Winning Super Bowl 51 with the greatest comeback in NFL championship history has helped New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft cope with the Deflategate penalties that cost his franchise $1 million, a pair of draft picks, and four games of Tom Brady’s prime. That doesn’t mean he’s over it.
Kraft trashed the overhyped scandal about underinflated footballs Tuesday evening at a Bloomberg Breakaway event, suggesting “envy and jealousy” over the Patriots’ sustained success was a factor in the investigation and its eventual penalties.
“I don’t hold grudges, but I also don’t forget anything,” Kraft said. “Envy and jealousy are incurable diseases. I’m going into my 24th season as an owner. I’m passionate about owning a football team.
"If I hadn’t won, I would be so angry at our folks and thinking about what we’d have to do (to win a title). So, our competitors, I understand how they brought pressure on the league office to be very strong and (lobbied) not to compromise on an issue that was nonsense and foolishness.”
It wasn’t the first time he’s accused other teams of resenting New England’s success. He referred to the league’s “envy and jealousy” in an interview with HBO’s Bryant Gumbel in February, even going as far to call Patriots’ detractors “haters.”
While winning may heal most wounds, it’s clear Kraft still has a sore spot for the scandal that threatened to taint both Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s legacies. The Patriots overcame overblown league sanctions to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this February. Since the Colts went public with their accusations of deflated footballs, New England has gone 30-7.
He continued his lecture by finding a way to backhandedly throw shade at America’s youth, calling the Pats’ historic comeback against the Falcons a “great lesson for the millennials on how hard work, perseverance, and never giving up.”
He also touched on the pairing that helped transform his team from AFC also-ran to one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. Kraft said hiring head coach Bill Belichick went beyond his then-underwhelming resume and to his unique fir with the Patriots. He called five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady “a special human being.”
Kraft earned satisfying redemption when his club overcame the league’s Deflategate penalties to pull off a stunning victory at Super Bowl 51. However, that doesn’t seem to be enough to satisfy the longtime NFL fixture. If opposing team’s ill will towards the Patriots were indeed a driving force between the league’s sanctions, Kraft will have to hope his franchise doesn’t land in hot water again after accusing 31 other teams of “envy and jealousy.”