New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft lashed out against the deflate-gate investigation one more time and also chimed in on his relationship with President Donald Trump in a wide-ranging interview at the Bloomberg Breakaway Summit on Tuesday night in New York.
On the league’s investigation into Tom Brady over under-inflated footballs, Kraft couldn’t help but take another shot at the league for its handling of the situation. Brady eventually served a four-game suspension after his appeal was dropped, and the Patriots were hit with massive penalties — the loss of first- and fourth-round draft picks, along with a $1 million fine — following the investigation that stemmed from the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in January 2015.
The Patriots, of course, have won two of the three Super Bowls since, reaching the AFC title game the one year they did not the championship.
“Well, I don’t hold grudges, but I also don’t forget anything,” Kraft said, via USA Today. “Envy and jealousy are incurable diseases. I’m going into my 24th season as an owner. I’m passionate about owning a football team in my hometown.
“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.”
Kraft also spoke about his relationship with President Donald Trump, which goes back 25 years but was crystallized following the death of Kraft’s wife in 2011. The Patriots owner said Trump was one of the people who tried most to keep his spirits up in the aftermath.
“He called me once a week for a year and invited me to things,” Kraft said. “That was the darkest period of my life. I’m a pretty strong person. My kids thought I was going to die. There were five or six people who were great to me, and he was one of them.
“Loyalty and friendship trumps politics for me. I always remember the people who were good to me in that vulnerable time, and he’s in that category.”
As for the now-president who has become a highly divisive public figure, Kraft said he doesn’t like the media’s portrayal of Trump but that some of that is “self-inflicted.” Still, Kraft makes an apology for Trump that others also have said in different forms.
“He doesn’t mean everything he says,” Kraft said. “I’m privileged to know that. People who don’t know him maybe don’t see the better side. I tell you one thing: He’s very hard-working.”
Also hard-working (and not roundly beloved — at least not outside New England) are Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whom Kraft said people warned him about back in 2000 when he hired Belichick.
“When I hired him, people told me I shouldn’t,” Kraft said. “We had to build a stadium. We needed goodwill from the public. We needed people who interviewed well and were gracious. People sent me tapes of him from Cleveland. In his five years in Cleveland, he had a losing record in four of the five years.
“In life, if you’re picking your life partner or key managers in your company, you can look at the curriculum vitae and look at all these things, but it’s [about] the simpatico of a connection. What is right for me may not be right for you.”
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