Owner Robert Kraft’s initial statement in the wake of the Ted Wells report was along the lines of “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I won’t blow your house down.” Last night’s reaction from Kraft in the aftermath of the various penalties imposed on the team and quarterback Tom Brady suggests that Kraft is now thinking about blowing someone’s house up.
It’s a given that Brady will appeal his four-game suspension. Per the league office, the Patriots separately can appeal the $1 million fine and the removal of two draft picks — a first-rounder in 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2017. Any appeal from the team would be handled by the Commissioner or his designee.
It’s also possible that the Patriots and their lawyers will consider the possibility of conjuring a possible lawsuit, in the event the appeal is unsuccessful. Peter King of TheMMQB.com and NBC’s Football Night in America thinks it’s possible that Kraft will decide to “go rogue” and sue. It’s possible that Kraft will simply want the league to fear litigation when processing an appeal, in the hopes that Kraft will be placated by a reduction in the penalties.
Litigation filed by the Patriots remains an unlikely possibility, for a variety of reasons. For example, it would potentially alienate Kraft from his partners, and it would set a bad precedent.
If Kraft is angry enough to consider filing suit, however, that’s bad news for Commissioner Roger Goodell. Once Kraft realizes that filing suit isn’t a realistic option, Kraft could instead embark on an effort to overhaul the leadership of the league.
Either way, it makes for potentially awkward meetings next week, when the owners convene in San Francisco for the quarterly get-together of the folks who run the sport.