The New England Patriots will accept their discipline handed down by the NFL following the investigation into the use of under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced Tuesday at the Spring League Meeting that the team will not appeal its punishment, which includes a $1 million fine and the loss of a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round selection in 2017.
"Although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for the commissioner and believe that he's doing what he perceives to be in the best interest of the full 32," Kraft said during a six-minute address to reporters. "So in that spirit I don't want to continue the rhetoric that's gone on for the past four months. I'm going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric and we won't appeal."
Kraft remained clear in his opinion of the discipline, which also includes a four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady. He called the Deflategate punishment "way over the top, unreasonable, unprecedented in my opinion" while adding that the team's decision about how to respond might have been different last week than it was on Tuesday.
In the end, Kraft expressed his desire to move forward for the benefit of the league. Texans owner Bob McNair later told the Boston Herald that New England accepting the discipline was the "smart thing to do." It was perhaps an indication of the type of behind-the-scenes pressure the Patriots were facing as this showdown escalated.
"At no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32," Kraft said.
"The one thing that we can all agree upon is that the entire process has taken way too long," Kraft said. "I don't think anyone can believe that four months after the AFC Championship Game, we are still talking about air pressure and the PSI in footballs."
It might be the one point both sides of this story can wholeheartedly agree on.