The head coach of the New England Patriots stonewalled reporters asking about Deflate-Gate — but the team owner was more than happy to rip the NFL for persecuting star quarterback Tom Brady.
Robert Kraft, one of the most powerful owners in the league, said Wednesday it was “unfathomable” for the league to uphold its four-game suspension of Brady for his alleged role in letting air out of footballs before a playoff game in January.
“The league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything” to tamper with footballs, Kraft told reporters on the first day of training camp. “I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell accused Brady of obstructing the league’s Deflate-Gate investigation by having his cellphone destroyed just before he met with investigators in March.
Brady, in a lengthy defense posted to Facebook on Wednesday, said he was just replacing a broken Samsung with an iPhone. He denied any wrongdoing by himself or the team.
Brady’s post generated almost 200,000 likes in three hours — including one from his supermodel wife, Gisele Bündchen. Brady and the NFL players union could still seek an injunction in federal court.
Besides suspending the quarterback, the league fined the team $1 million and stripped it of two draft picks. Kraft decided in May not to fight the punishment. But he said Wednesday that he regrets not taking the NFL to court.
“It is completely incomprehensible to me that the league continues to take steps to disparage one of its all time great players, and a man for whom I have the utmost respect,” Kraft said.
A stone-faced Bill Belichick, the famously reticent coach of the Patriots, batted away reporters’ questions on the matter.
Asked whether he believes Brady, he said: “We start training camp today. We’ll get ready for the 2015 season starting today.”