New England owner Robert Kraft responded to an opinion by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman that the Patriots wouldn’t be punished if found guilty for deflating footballs because of the close relationship between Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Sherman said there was a conflict of interest between Kraft and Goodell, who was photographed at Kraft’s home the night before the AFC Championship Game. Kraft explained the party at his home was for the Patriots’ lead sponsors, which ultimately helps the NFL and the club grow revenues.
“The NFL always used to pay for a big party for the AFC Championship Game,” Kraft said Tuesday during Super Bowl XLIX Media Day. “When the league stopped giving the parties, we started doing it. I think Mr. Sherman understood that he’s the biggest beneficiary, because they get over 50 percent of the revenues. So, he didn’t go to Harvard, but Stanford must be pretty good because he figured it out.”
Patriots’ points leader
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Kicker Stephen Goskowski became the Patriots’ all-time scoring leader with 1,179 points this season, surpassing Adam Vinatieri (1,158) in the Patriots’ win over Miami on Dec. 14. Vinatieri owns three Super Bowl rings with New England, while Gostkowski is still looking for his first after two tries.
“I have been put in a good situation in a heck of a team with a great offense,” said Gostkowski, who led the NFL with 35 field goals this season and tied for the league lead in 2013 with 38. “I’ve been able to take advantage of my opportunities. Kicking field goals, you’re only as good as the opportunities you’re given.
“Thanks, Tom Brady … It’s cool, it’s exciting. It’s a testament to playing for a long time at the same place. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
Difficult for dynasties
No team has repeated as Super Bowl champion since New England in 2003-04, but the Patriots and Seahawks are coming as close to dynasties as possible in the NFL.
Seattle is bidding to repeat as champion, and the Patriots are playing in their sixth Super Bowl since 2001.
“It is difficult,” Seattle center Max Unger said. “We kind of struggled early this year dealing with that exact issue. There’s so much turnover in the NFL, and just being able to recreate your team year after year and finding your identity, almost a new identity, every time is very difficult. You look at the Patriots, they just had like their ninth first-round bye in 10 years … I’d call that a dynasty.”
Though now a member of the Big Ten, Rutgers is not considered a football factory. But the Patriots have four players from Rutgers: defensive backs Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon and tight end Tim Wright.
“It’s amazing,” said McCourty, a first-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2010. “Rutgers has been huge. To be playing here with three of the younger Rutgers guys who came in as little brothers when I was back at Rutgers, and then now all over again, them coming in as little brothers. It’s letting us know if we do the right things, we’ll have an opportunity to play in this league.
“We’re one of the top colleges in here ... I’m hoping it gets high school kids to say, ‘I’m going to Rutgers.’ ”