BY Art Thiel 07:20PM 01/26/2015

Thiel: Angry Pats’ owner fires back at critics

Patriots owner Robert Kraft surprised the football world Monday by calling out the handling of Deflate-gate by the NFL and media, demanding an apology if no wrongdoing is found.

A couple of hours after he deplaned in Phoenix from Boston, Patriots owner Robert Kraft denounced the attacks on his franchise’s integrity. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

CHANDLER, AZ. — If Seahawks fans and others around the country weren’t taking Deflate-gate seriously, they will now.

In an unscheduled appearance before reporters Monday night after arrival at the team hotel for the Super Bowl Sunday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft angrily denounced the controversy over tampered footballs and said if no fault is found with his franchise, he will demand an apology from the NFL.

Which means his good friend, commissioner Roger Goodell, would have to be on figurative bended knee, cementing the widespread notion of who is in charge of the NFL.

“If the Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs,” said Kraft, reading from a statement he said he wrote on the flight from Boston, “I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to Coach (Bill) Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they’ve had to endure this week.

“I’m disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts rather than circumstantial, leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.”

Kraft, who took no questions after reading the statement, was unequivocal in support of his coach and quarterback.

“I want to make it clear, I believe unconditionally that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or are in violation of NFL rules,” Kraft said. “Tom, Bill and I have been together for 15 years. They are my guys. They are part of my family. Bill, Tom and I have had many difficult discussions over the years. I’ve never known them to lie to me. That’s why I’m confident in saying what I just said.

“It bothers me greatly their reputations and integrity – and by association that of our team – has been called into question this week.”

Kraft, who hired and fired Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as coach ahead of hiring Belichick in 1998, apparently sought to close the matter before the annual Media Day frenzy Tuesday, but instead seemed to inflame the controversy.

Belichick, who took the hotel ballroom stage after Kraft exited, turned away several questions about Kraft’s surprise rebuttal, talking only football and praising effusively the Seahawks.

“I appreciate the question, but I’ve spent quite a bit of time and had two lengthy press conferences about that,” Belichick said to the first question of his news conference.

Also mum on the topic was Brady, who earlier in the day said on his weekly radio show that he had “hurt feelings” about the doubts surrounding his public statement.

Along with that news came a report that the league’s investigation had turned up a Pats locker room attendant who is a “strong person of interest” because he had possession of the footballs in question before the game. Fox Sports cited anonymous sources, and the NFL did not confirm the report, which said the person had been interviewed and a video existed of some part of his activities.

It’s clear that the controversy won’t go away by game time. Ted Wells, the investigator hired by the NFL, said Monday that he expects his investigation to last at least several more weeks.

“We are following customary investigative procedures and no one should draw any conclusions about the sequence of interviews or any other steps, all of which are part of the process of doing a thorough and fair investigation,” Wells said in a statement.

Kraft’s decision to break the NFL’s highly scripted Super Bowl-week protocol for a scolding of both league and media was unprecedented, and a sign of the depth of resentment within the franchise

Belichick said Saturday in another unplanned presser, this one at team headquarters, that he was “embarrassed” at the amount of time he spent on the issue since the Pats won the AFC title nine suddenly long days ago over Indianapolis.



  • Bayview Herb

    It is widely known that air pressure rises in heat and lowers in colder air. Kraft could be right if after blowing up the balls, they then take them outside where they are not re-examined, thus causing air pressure to lower because of the temperature difference That would be the only innocent explanation..A test in room temperature, then the appropriate outside temp should tell the tale.

    • 1coolguy

      The change in temperature does not make a difference unless it is significant, which it was not. The Colts balls were found to be in regulation, so the temperature had little to nothing to do with this.
      Clearly someone on the Pats blew it and the team should be penalized.

      • art thiel

        Kraft has to know every detail of the investigation, or he wouldn’t have been so defiant.

        • eYeDEF

          Interesting point. So you think the league is keeping Kraft abreast of details about the Wells investigation? To what end?

          • Dave Mauro

            So Goodell can see what the worst penalty is that Kraft will allow him to levy against Kraft.

    • Eric K

      Neil Degrasse Tyson has said that theory is bogus.

      I think I’ll trust him more than random Pats fans posting comments.

      • Bayview Herb

        Well, you are wrong on two points. First I have been a seahawk fan since the first game ever between The Hawks and St Louis in 1976. Secondly, The increase in pressure isn’t a theory, it’s fact. Put you car’s air in at 30# then drive away into the desert. Retake the air pressure reading. If you need more help with this, call your local tire dealer and ask that question. I’m no random, just objective.

        • Eric K

          Fine your not a Pats fan, your still wrong.

          The change in pressure is related to the size. Car tires are significantly larger than footballs.

          Don’t take my word for it, listen to Bill Nye, Neil Derasse Tyson and Wilson, who makes the footballs. Or the fact that The Colts balls were in the same weather and they didn’t deflate. Of the fact that the Pats balls in the 2nd half didn’t deflate.

  • Jeff

    Bayview….then why were the Colts footballs the correct air pressure? Were they not in the same weather?

    • 1coolguy

      Each team supplies its’ OWN 12 balls each game. The Colts were found to be fine.

    • art thiel


  • joe

    then the colts balls would have suffered the same fate.

  • notaboomer

    blah blah blah. pbs frontline reports about how most nfl player brains test positive for cte brain imjury and the nfl has no comment. ask kraft about that, reporters.

    • art thiel

      Human nature and our culture are all about the now and the future. The consequences to retired NFL players are about the past. Not justifying or condoning it, just pointing out that most people don’t care about the past, and quite a few fear it because it can’t be changed.

  • 1coolguy

    The worst that can happen is a lower rung person gets blamed and possibly the Pats let him go. This isn’t a criminal act so it’s all in the family, so to speak.
    That said, I would think given the very poor, rainy conditions for the AFC championship game, a less deflated ball would be easier to throw and catch. Fully inflated NFL balls are pretty hard. So what about the idea the coach closest to Brady, Josh McDaniels, his OC, had the ball boy do it? It would not be a surprise.
    As to the ball being noticeably deflated, the first person who noticed was the Colts defensive player who intercepted a Brady pass, then it went from there on the Colts sideline. So if he knew, from the feel of the ball, then it clearly makes a difference.
    As the NFL has announced 11 of 12 balls were under-inflated, it’s a violation of league rules and the Pats need to be penalized, regardless of the league finding anyone at fault.
    I vote for loss of their 1st round choice and a stiff fine on the team, similar to the Video-gate penalties.

    • art thiel

      We’ll see who’s responsible for the equipment guy’s actions. But not before Sunday.

      • Dave Mauro

        We better not see him driving a new Mercedes.

  • Dave Johnson

    An NFL football’s inflation
    Is governed by league regulation.

    But questions related
    To balls less inflated

    Have led to this investigation.

    • dinglenuts

      Dave, if you’re going to be the SportPressNW poet laureate, you’re going to have to mix in a sonnet every now and then with the limericks. If that seems too daunting, there’s always Haiku.

      • Dave Johnson

        Thanks dn, I’ll do my best.
        BTW, I love your avatar; it looks exactly like my cat Mojo.

        I wonder if he’s learned how to type…

        • dinglenuts

          That’s Sugar. Any of the cogent posts on this site are his, not mine.

          • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)


  • notaboomer

    pats get off bus in snowy boston, throw ballboy under it, board plane for sunny arizona. kraft says “definitively determine.” this sounds like like, what is it, oh yeah, plausible deniability.

  • notaboomer

    breaking: tomas berdych’s australian open balls were deflated in nadal match. but it was a blowout so no biggie.

    • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

      Nadal Deflates the oppositions spirit.Wilson/Lynch/cast of Hawks do that to NFL opposing forces~sights squarely set on the 3Bs this Wknd.The weather likely will be too nasty for a cumbersome SB Parade out in Boston anyway so deflation here we come to role models Belichick/Brady/Browner!The make NE Proud bunch.Here is to an entertaining game on both sides of the World!Go Nadal.Go Hawks!

  • notaboomer

    it’s not too late to get the colts on a plane to phoenix is it?

  • portlandsportsfan

    Did anyone else get the impression that Kraft has a few too many whiskey sours on the plane ride from NE. What is a “impology from the league”?
    Brady’s hurt feelings coupled with Sherman poking the NFL with a stick can’t help but affect Brady’s mindset in this game. Kraft and company have been assured that the hammer will not fall this week and this all that is saving Brady from a total meltdown.

  • jafabian

    I don’t know if Kraft is ignorant or idiotic. He accuses the league of jumping to conclusions and not going on facts but the facts remain that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were under the league mandated weight. He demands apologies but uses words and phrases like “IF no wrongdoing is found” and refusing questions meaning he’s aware there’s at least a modicum of possibility that cheating is involved with his team. If he and Belichick took questions I’d want to know 1) Have you used the same protocols to prepare footballs for games during the entire season? The entire Belichick era? 2) So have all footballs been under inflated during the Belichick era? If you were aware of it why did you do nothing about it? And as Jeff asked 3) Why were the Colts footballs unaffected?

    The more the Patriots as an organization remain defiant and throw out their pat answer of “I appreciate the question” response (Must have gone to the Mark McGwire school of question answering) the more they undercut their fan base. When they take the field on Sunday they could hear more boos than cheers. You don’t want to start off the game that way, just ask Peyton Manning. Loved hearing the sound bites of Brady saying how all this hoopla hurt his feelings. Be interesting to see if the constant media badgering on this takes a toll on him and affects his play.

  • whoKarez

    The only reason Kraft is acting that way is because he feels reasonably confident that they would be cleared from wrong doing. Makes me wonder how much the commissioner has already told him behind closed doors.

    • jafabian

      Probably. And if that’s the case then Richard Sherman was right.

  • Big

    The fix is in and time to move on to the SB.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    There will be no apology. Its beyond fishy… and Belichick rattling off atmospheric conditions. What a laugh. Bill Nye the science guy debunked him properly although he ended it with Go Hawks! Credible but from Seattle. That’s Ok~I’m glad Bill is one of the 12s. Go Hawks!

  • Kristafarian

    “Kraft’s decision to break the NFL’s highly scripted Super Bowl-week protocol for a scolding of both league and media was unprecedented….”

    And then, there’s Marshawn … People cheering him on off the field for not bowing to Media’s golden calf and why can’t you just answer the question. They’re making Marshawn a folk hero. Go Beacon Plumbing!*

  • Hugo Stiglitz

    Dear Mr. Kraft,

    Here is your “IM-POLOGY” as you called it.

    We’re very, very SORRY your team chose to CHEAT…..AGAIN!


    The NFL

  • Concrete Brad

    Not pictured below on the tarmac:
    Goodell on his knees while waiting for Kraft.

  • just passing thru

    “leaked evidence”? Well, that’d be just a bunch of hot air, Mr. Kraft.