FOXBORO — Jonathan Kraft played it politically correct with ESPN in town to broadcast their first game at Gillette Stadium since Deflategate.
Asked specifically about how ESPN handled coverage of Deflategate, which was perceived in New England as dramatically anti-Patriots, the team president took the high road.
“ESPN was a conduit for … I don’t think ESPN, the day after the AFC championship, said, ‘Hey, we want to go get the Patriots.’ I don’t believe that was something they wanted to do but as a conduit to the public, sometimes you get given information and that information is inaccurate,” Kraft said. “We’ve talked about it before and unfortunately, we ended up with what we ended up with.”
Kraft was referring to the tweet from Chris Mortensen that blew Deflategate into a national story. He reported that 11 of the 12 footballs were found to at least 2 PSI below the 12.5 PSI threshold, a report that was rebuffed by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Super Bowl Sunday.
ESPN also had to issue an apology in the middle of an overnight broadcast for referencing a taped walkthrough prior to Super Bowl XXXVI based on an unsubstantiated report in the Boston Herald.
“A lot of the whole way the whole thing was covered by a lot of people… The real thing about the situation, if more people involved with football had more of a knowledge of ideal gas law, I think this would have been put to bed very quickly,” Kraft said. “It was admitted in the appeals hearing, no one had ever heard of it. That’s why they were shocked that air pressure in balls could have been that low. We tried to explain that. People weren’t interested. That’s where we are.
Kraft was then reminded of the 21 degree wind chill at kickoff.
“It is cold tonight,” said Kraft, who was asked if balls could lose a little PSI. “Probably.”
The league is also testing balls at halftime at some games. Kraft said he has not been privy to that information or aware of what the league is doing with that information.
“You’d have to ask the league about that,” he said. “I think it’s great that they want to learn more and understand more. So I think that’s a good thing. I think if you really wanted to have a perfect test of it, you’d probably want to do it at every game and have a methodical approach. That might be in the works for next year. They sent a memo out at the start of the year and said they would be doing it at select games.”
The Patriots team president was also asked about state attorney general Maura Healy’s suggestion to prohibit those under the age of 21 from participating in daily fantasy sites such as Draft Kings.
“I haven’t read her formal proposed edict or guidelines,” Kraft said. “The federal government specifically made something legal and it should be regulated. I think the fact our attorney general took a leadership role instead of grandstanding and bringing people to court is good. I think there’s a lot more important things going on in the world. But to issue regulations and guidelines I think is a smart approach to it, and hopefully, other attorney generals will copy the way it’s done. Whatever they think makes sense but clearly, it is a legal activity.”
Healy made it clear in a report by the Boston Globe that she would not move actively to outlaw daily fantasy sites like her counterpart in New York. Instead, she will focus on consumer protection.
Kraft also addressed how the team is dealing with the loss of players like Julian Edelman, Jamie Collins and Dion Lewis to illness and injuries.
“They pile up for every team,” Kraft said. “The one great thing about this team, I have never walked in and heard anyone lamenting… That’s football. Teams that get caught up in it, that’s a recipe to lose.
“If you get caught up in injuries, you’re not going to be successful. The accomplishment isn’t so much double-digit wins. The accomplishment is, if we can keep going, is to get into the playoffs. The ultimate goal is about winning a championship.
“Stability and consistency and the philosophy, that starts with Bill,” Kraft said.
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