PITTSBURGH — Jonathan Kraft wasn’t hiding from the Josh Brown domestic violence controversy that has engulfed the NFL this week.
Speaking on the Patriots pregame radio show, the team president said he and his father are very sensitive to the issue since the early days of owning the franchise. He referenced what he and his family learned from the ill-conceived drafting of defensive tackle Christian Peter in the fifth round of the 1996 draft.
“Well, I’m going to speak for the New England Patriots. I think it’s something going back to the days of Christian Peter that we’ve been pretty stringent about, and I think ahead of the curve, in terms of the seriousness of,” Kraft said.
The Patriots relinquished the rights to Peter only a week after the draft. After Myra Kraft spoke out against Peter’s arrest (his eighth in seven months) for grabbing a woman’s throat, the team said Peter was “incompatible with our organization’s standards of acceptable conduct.”
Jonathan Kraft reiterated that stance on Sunday.
“There might be some that are as serious but there’s nothing more serious than what’s going on in the domestic violence and the sexual abuse area,” Kraft said. “It’s something we have felt strongly about since we’ve owned the franchise. We’ve partnered with Maura Healey over the last year, plus, to starting bringing programs into high schools in Massachusetts to make sure we’re using the power of professional sports, and our players and our brand that at the teenage level that A, we prevent teenage sexual assault and abuse and hopefully, teach young men when they’re still in their formative years that it’s something that’s totally unacceptable and it’s not something we’re ever going to tolerate here at the New England Patriots.”
Does Kraft feel he and the Patriots still have to contend with the perceived league incompetence on the issue?
“We’re part of 32. The league is under a spotlight,” Kraft said. “And I think after the Ray Rice situation of a couple of years ago when the league acknowledged that they were clearly behind the curve on this issue, we’ve changed our policies around what the discipline is and the league has added a number of resources. I know people are focused on the investigation of Josh Brown. But the offseason education that goes on at the clubs now is a mandatory thing. It used to be that clubs would do what they thought was appropriate.
“It’s now mandatory. It’s done at the league level. Every team undergoes where the players are taught what’s appropriate and what isn’t, and given resources if they feel the impulse to do something inappropriate, they have a tremendous amount of resources to reach out, and in the case where unfortunate incidents happen, investigative resources have been put in place as well. Obviously, there’s still a ways to go to make it perfect.
“At the Patriots, we have taken it seriously for years. Our family has owned and for us, it’s literally something where there is no gray area. It’s a very definitive and clear situation. We’re very proud of the “Game Change” program we’ve done in partnership with Attorney General Maura Healy and it’s something everyone should take very seriously. This is an extremely important life lesson for young men that it’s inappropriate to touch a woman in any way that connotes violence.”