Patriots president expresses support for Goodell
BOSTON (AP) — New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft expressed support Thursday for commissioner Roger Goodell and said the NFL will go forward with him in charge.
“Roger’s our commissioner and we are very happy with him,” said Kraft, whose father, Robert, owns the Patriots.
Goodell originally suspended Ray Rice for two games after a video showed him dragging his then-fiance Janay Palmer out of a casino elevator.
After a second video showing Rice hitting her inside the elevator was released, Goodell suspended the running back indefinitely for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, and the Baltimore Ravens released him.
Before the second video became public, Goodell wrote a letter to all 32 teams in which he said, “I didn’t get it right.”
Kraft said, “I’m paraphrasing, but he effectively said: ‘At the NFL, we hold ourselves to an extremely high standard, both on and off the field, and in a recent incident of domestic violence I didn’t do a good job, I didn’t get it right, I didn’t hold the league to that very high standard and that one’s on me.’”
Kraft spoke at a Bloomberg News luncheon in response to questions from a moderator and did not take questions from other reporters.
Goodell “realized without having to see the (second) video that domestic violence was a much more serious thing for society in general,” Kraft said, “but for our league to be setting an extremely strong message on about just how unacceptable it is and he didn’t do it.
“He acknowledged it and after the video became public he acknowledged it again.”
Kraft also addressed the way New Jersey authorities handled the incident.
“The criminal justice system of the state of New Jersey ... saw that video (and) chose to let him walk,” he said.
Rice, a former Pro Bowl running back, was arrested in Atlantic City on an assault charge for hitting Palmer, now his wife, in February. Rice has been accepted into New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, which enabled him to avoid jail time and could result in having the charge expunged from his record.
“It doesn’t absolve the NFL of anything and the fact that we bore the brunt of this criticism, justifiably, says that we have a platform that we can work from to really try to help affect change,” Kraft said. “We have to help make sure that in addition to the league having no tolerance for this and that we get the message out, especially to teenage boys as they’re developing their adult behaviors, about what’s acceptable and what isn’t, that the criminal justice system also starts to take this seriously.”
Kraft also addressed the Patriots mediocre start. They’re 2-2 after Monday night’s 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s better than 1-3 or 0-4, but we obviously haven’t played well,” he said. “We haven’t played well and we better start playing well.”
Pressed further, he echoed the words of coach Bill Belichick from the previous day, cracking the audience up with, “We’re moving on to Cincinnati.”
Kraft also said he sees a team in London “as most probably” the European city in the NFL’s future but indicated he thinks Los Angeles will come before London.
“We won’t go back to Los Angeles without a great venue,” he said. “It’s what hurt football in Los Angeles before. You had the Rams playing in Anaheim, in a baseball stadium, you had the Raiders playing in a venue that was historic but not a great venue (the Coliseum) and way oversized and that’s why they both left.
“We have a lot of great options. The options on the stadium site have never been more real and never been more close.”
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