Yesterday Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced he would not appeal the consequences handed down to the Patriots over Deflategate. In announcing his decision, Kraft said, "Although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for Commissioner Roger Goodell and believe that he's doing what he perceives to be in the best interests of all 32 teams. So in that spirit, I don't want to continue the rhetoric that's gone on for the last four months."
Today, Roger Goodell denied having any contact with Kraft in the days leading up to his announcement and said that Kraft's decision would not impact the state of Brady's appeal. I think it is highly unlikely that Goodell and Kraft did not have a conversation or other communication about the Patriot's punishment or Kraft's very recent and surprising decision to accept the punishment without appeal (and, hopefully stop whining about it as well). This assertion is even less plausible since Kraft and Goodell were both present at the recent owners meeting.
Kraft has been a longtime friend and public apologist of Goodell, defending him in the wake of several league controversies including the 2011 lockout and the Ray Rice case. Kraft, described as one of Goodell's closest confidants, spoke on his friend's behalf, saying, "He had no knowledge of this video." Also, according to GQ, Kraft was the impetus behind Goodell's interview with Nora O'Donnell about the matter. Just as the scientist cited in the Patriot's rebuttal of the Well's report had a history with Kraft, Nora O'Donnell has a strong Kraft connection: She works for CBS, whose head-honcho Les Moonves is a close friend of Kraft.
In many ways Kraft has functioned as Goodell's right-hand man. Who else in the NFL enjoys this type of access to and influence over the commissioner? Looking back on the Goodell-Kraft bromance, Kraft's whininess and accusations of unfairness seem patently absurd.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady still plans to appeal his suspension, and the NFLPA also released a statement yesterday indicating that it has made a formal request for Goodell to recuse himself as arbitrator in the appeal. It remains to be seen if this request will be honored. For now, Goodell has said, "I look forward to hearing directly from Tom if there's new information... information that can be helpful to us getting this right." Good luck with that, Roger.
Tom Brady's lack of cooperation was a factor in his suspension, according to Goodell, but stopped short of saying that future cooperation would not impact Tom Brady's suspension. In other words, from what I understood, Goodell left the door open for a reduction in sentence if Brady suddenly decides to cooperate.