The New England Patriots held their first round of media availability in Phoenix on Monday. If this was any indication on what the rest of the week will hold, it's going to be an interesting seven days.
The biggest talker coming in to the most scrutinized sporting event on the planet was allegations of the Patriots using deflated footballs to gain an edge in the AFC Championship game. Last week, Pats owner Robert Kraft said his team would be completely helpful with the NFL's investigation.
However, over the weekend he had a chance to think about things a little more. And he has a few more things to say about this issue. Here is the full transcript of his statement from Monday in Phoenix:
“On the plane ride out to here, I prepared a few remarks which I would like to read to you.
“On behalf of the entire organization, I want to express what an honor it is to be here and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. I know how difficult it is to get to this game and I appreciate the work of everyone who helps host the event. We are anticipating a great game against the defending Super Bowl champs, Seattle Seahawks.
“Given the events of the last week, I want to take a minute to address the air pressure matter before we kickoff this week’s media availabilities. I have spoken with Coach (Bill) Belichick. I have spoken with Tom Brady. I have taken the time to understand to the best of my abilities what goes on in the preparation of game day footballs. And I want to make it clear that I believe, unconditionally, that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of NFL rules.
“Tom, Bill, and I have been together for 15 years. They are my guys, they are part of my family. And Bill, Tom, and I have had many difficult discussions over the years, and I have never known them to lie to me. That is why I am confident in saying what I just said. And it bothers me greatly that their reputations and integrity, and by association that of our team, has been called into question this past week.
“As I said on Friday in my prepared statement, we welcome the League’s investigation and the involvement of Attorney (Ted) Wells. I am confident that this investigation will uncover whatever the facts were that took place last Sunday and the science of how game balls react to changes in the environment. This would be in direct contrast to the public discourse, which has been driven by media leaks as opposed to actual data and facts. Because of this, many jumped to conclusions and made scarring accusations against our coach, quarterback and staff questioning the integrity of all involved.
“If the Wells’ investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the League would apologize to our entire team and in particular, Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week. I am disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.
“In closing, I would like to say to all the fans of the National Football League, and especially the amazing fans of the New England Patriots, that I and our entire organization believe strongly in the integrity of the game and the rules of fair play properly, equitably and fairly enforced. Thank you.”
Of course, it's the media's fault. Isn't it always? Forget about the fact the media also showed leaked footage of the Patriots recording the Jets coaches making calls in 2007, sparking an investigation that proved Belichick and his band of miscreants were guilty. The media was right before, and odds are it's right again.
It's fine for Kraft to defend his coach and quarterback. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have made him a lot of money. And, if this whole incident does turn out to be false, then the league and the media do need to apologize for it.
But when we all find out just how bad this thing really is, Kraft needs to get back on that podium and apologize for HIS false accusations. That's only fair, right?