New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft strongly defended coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady on Monday night in addressing Deflategate, or what he called “air pressure matter.”
In a surprising four-minute address before Belichick was to meet reporters before Super Bowl XLIX, Kraft said after speaking with Belichick and Brady about the accusations the Patriots reduced the air pressure in footballs before the AFC Championship Game, he is convinced “unconditionally the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in violation of NFL rules.”
Fox Sports reported the NFL has zeroed in on a Patriots locker-room attendant in connection with the underinflated footballs, and the person of interest was already interviewed by the league. There is surveillance video showing the attendant taking the footballs from the officials’ locker room into another room at Gillette Stadium before bringing them out to the field, sources told Fox Sports.
Even with that report circulating, Kraft backed Belichick and Brady to the hilt.
“Tom, Bill and I have been together for 15 years,” Kraft said. “They are my guys. They are part of my family. I have never known them to lie to me. It bothers me greatly their reputation has been called into question this week.”
Attorney Ted Wells, who is leading the investigation along with NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash, released a statement Monday that said they expect the investigation to take at least several weeks.
“We welcome the league’s investigation and the involvement of attorney Wells,” said Kraft, who was confident the Patriots would be exonerated.
“Many jumped to conclusions and made strong accusations against our coach and quarterback,” Kraft said.
If the charges prove to be unfounded, Kraft said: “I would hope the league will apologize to our entire team, and in particular coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.”
Belichick declined to address the matter, saying he answered questions about it in two press conferences last week.
Brady said he has tried to “move forward” on the matter.
“We’ve dealt with adversity this season,” Brady said, “and have to deal with more.”
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