New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has hit out at the punishments handed down to the team over the Deflategate scandal.
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Tom Brady was suspended for four games on Monday night and the Patriots fined $1 million (Dh3.67m) as the NFL came down heavy on its marquee player and its Super Bowl champions.
The NFL not only suspended the two-time MVP without pay but also stripped the Patriots of both their 2016 first round draft pick and the 2017 fourth round draft pick for deflating footballs in the AFC Championship game against Indianapolis Colts on January 18.
The idea is that a deflated and softer football is easier for a quarterback to handle and pass.
— Vanessa Coria 13News (@13VanessaCoria) May 13, 2015
Brady, via his agent Don Yee, branded the punishment as “ridiculous” and “” and now plans to appeal the decision.
Kraft said in a statement: “Despite our conviction that there was no tampering with footballs, it was our intention to accept any discipline levied by the league.
“The punishment, however, far exceeded any reasonable expectation. It was based completely on circumstantial rather than hard or conclusive evidence.
“We recognise our fans’ concerns regarding the NFL’s penalties and share in their disappointment in how this one-sided investigation was handled.
“Tom Brady has our unconditional support. Our belief in him has not wavered.”
Brady will miss the Patriots’ first four games of the 2015 regular season, meaning that if the suspension isn’t shortened, he will return to the field against his accusers in week six when the Patriots face the Indianapolis Colts.
The punishment was announced five days after the release of the Wells report which discovered there was “more probable than not” that two Patriots employees had conspired to deflate balls.
That probe also found that Brady – who went on to lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks – was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities” of the two employees, locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski.
— Fallon Tonight (@FallonTonight) May 13, 2015
The fine equals the largest ever dished out by the NFL back when they went after San Francisco 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo Jr after he pleaded guilty for his role in a Louisiana gambling fiasco in 1999.
The league singled out Brady saying he not only tarnished the league’s image but refused to cooperate with investigators.
The league said Brady declined to turn over his cell phone, texts, and emails to help with the probe, “despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information.”
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