Kraft on Deflategate: This has been very disturbing


Following the release of the Ted Wells Report, Robert Kraft released a statement disputing the findings of the 243-page document. Now, after the NFL handed down a stiff penalty last week, the New England Patriots owner is talking and remains fervent in his team's innocence.

In an interview with The MMQB's Peter King, Kraft reiterated his support for Tom Brady, who was given a four-game suspension for his role in deflating footballs and not cooperating with the NFL's investigation. Asked directly if the quarterback is innocent, Kraft responded:

"Yes. Because we had the discussion-if you did it, let's just deal with it and take our hit and move on. I've known Tommy 16 years, almost half his life. He's a man, and he's always been honest with me, and I trust him. I believed what he told me. He has never lied to me, and I have found no hard or conclusive evidence to the contrary."

In addition to Brady's suspension, the Patriots were fined $1 million and docked two draft picks, including a 2016 first-round selection.

Kraft reiterated his belief that the Wells Report didn't display significant proof of wrongdoing and described it as compiled "ambiguous circumstantial evidence."

"This whole thing has been very disturbing," he said. "I'm still thinking things out very carefully. But when you work for something your whole life ...

"I just get really worked up. To receive the harshest penalty in league history is just not fair. The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn't fair. If we're giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting. But in this report, every inference went against us ... inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us. That's the thing that really bothers me.

"If they want to penalize us because there's an aroma around this? That's what this feels like. If you don't have the so-called smoking gun, it really is frustrating. And they don't have it. This thing never should have risen to this level."

According to King, Kraft sounded "defiant and angry" and was "curt" at times during the 50 minutes the two spoke by phone Saturday.

The Pats owner would not comment on whether he would take any legal action against the NFL, and when asked about his relationship with Commissioner Roger Goodell, he provided a simple "you'll have to ask him."

Kraft pointed to the evidence when asked why his response to the Deflategate penalties was different than his acceptance of the sanctions handed down in 2007 following the similarly suffixed Spygate incident.

"Last time," said Kraft, "there was no dispute about the facts. The team admittedly said what happened. ... It was illegal to videotape (the opposing sidelines), and in the end we admitted it and took our penance. This is very different. In 2007, we did something and acknowledged the fact of what was done. This is an accusation of wrongdoing, without proof."

Kraft and the rest of the NFL ownership will meet in San Francisco beginning Tuesday for the annual NFL Spring League Meeting.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast welcomes Lindsay Rhodes to discuss the Patriots' response in the "Deflategate" saga and the latest names revealed on the "The Top 100 Players of 2015" countdown. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.