The New England Patriots will accept the NFL's punishment for their involvement in the "Deflategate" scandal and will not launch an appeal.
The team was fined $1 million and docked two draft picks after an NFL investigation revealed it's likely team employees and quarterback Tom Brady conspired to doctor footballs ahead of the AFC Championship Game.
"I accept, reluctantly, what (NFL commissioner Roger Goodell) has given to us," team owner Robert Kraft announced Tuesday.
Kraft acknowledged that his decision will likely upset many Patriots fans but indicated he believes he's acting in the best interests of the league.
Kraft opened by saying he believes all parties can agree the scandal has stretched far too long into the offseason.
"I have two options - I can end it or extend it," Kraft said. "At no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the 32."
And so, Kraft will end it. Or, rather, he will "reluctantly" accept his $1 million fine and forfeit a 2016 first-round pick and a 2017 fourth-rounder.
Kraft made no mention of Brady's ongoing suspension appeal, which will lead many to conclude he has been assured by Goodell that Brady's four-game ban will ultimately be reduced - especially in light of a report that Kraft and Goodell were recently spotted hugging and chatting.
That doesn't seem to be the case - not yet, at least. Kraft's decision not to appeal was made without assurance that Brady's penalty will be reduced, according to Greg A. Bedard of Sports Illustrated.
Until Brady's appeal concludes, "Deflategate" will remain in the headlines. Until Brady actually watches the season opener from home, the possibility of the two parties reaching a compromise that reduces his suspension will remain in play.
On May 6, Ted Wells released the findings from his investigation of the New England Patriots' alleged underinflating of footballs in their AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts. Wells determined that it was "more probable than not" that Patriots personnel both participated in violations of league rules and were involved in a deliberate attempt to circumvent those rules.
Need to Know
- The report also states that quarterback Tom Brady was aware of the inappropriate activities and was uncooperative throughout the investigation, declining to turn over the required documentation and/or electronic materials.
- As a result of the report, the NFL suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season and fined the Patriots $1 million. New England will also have to forfeit its first-round pick in the 2016 draft as well as a fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft.
- On May 14, Patriots lawyers issued a lengthy, highly critical response to the Wells Report in an attempt to add what the team describes as "context" to the NFL's investigation into the "Deflategate" scandal.
- On May 19, Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced that New England "reluctantly" accepts the NFL's penalties, and will not launch an appeal with respect to the $1-million fine and draft-pick forfeitures.
- Ted Wells, author of the Wells Report, defended his findings following the backlash after the Patriots' punishment was revealed. Wells shot back at detractors, saying "I think it’s wrong to question my independence because you don’t like my findings."
- Once the report was released, newspapers were quick to poke fun at the findings, depicting everything from Brady as Pinocchio to Brady being physically deflated on their front pages.
- Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft was quick to issue a statement in response to the report, expressing his disappointment and relative confusion with regard to its findings.
- Brady's agent Don Yee issued a scathing statement of the report questioning Wells' integrity and suggested investigators determined Brady's guilt before seeking facts and then built the report around that framework.
- The case began in January with the NFL looking into the possibility that New England deflated footballs during their 45-7 victory over the Colts.
- Even president Barack Obama took a jab at the Super Bowl champions when they visited the White House. "I usually tell a lot of jokes at these things, but with the Pats in town, I was afraid that 11 out of 12 of them would fall flat," Obama said.
- Juliet Macur of The New York Times believes the incident will forever tarnish Brady's legacy as one of the game's best players. [The New York Times]
- Ian Crouch of The New Yorker examines the hit Brady's image will take not only from the revelation he likely cheated but the lies he likely told in the wake of his violations. [The New Yorker]
- Ian O'Connor of ESPN.com dives deeper into what this mess means for Brady's credibility moving forward. [ESPN]
- Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe encourages the Patriots to come clean and start rebuilding trust, lest they tarnish their legacy irreparably. [The Boston Globe]
- Peter King of The MMQB says if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decides to penalize Brady with a suspension or heavy fine, it will forever alter Brady's perception among peers and fans. [MMQB]