Patriots owner Robert Kraft took an unusual step this week when he publicly criticized the league office, saying Commissioner Roger Goodell was wrong to suspend Tom Brady and saying that the Patriots were wrong to trust the league office to handle Deflategate appropriately.
Those words were music to the ears of the NFL Players Association.
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said on Mike & Mike that Kraft was saying many of the same things the union has been saying about the league office doing a poor job of enforcing the league’s own rules. Atallah said he hopes other owners will listen to Kraft and agree to a new disciplinary process.
“It says a lot when you have an owner echo the sentiments of our union. It says a lot when you have someone like Robert Kraft, who is respected around the league and obviously in the league office, say the things that he said with respect to fairness and process and faith in the league office. Those are the things that, frankly, give us a lot of validation for many of the fights that we’ve had over the last several years. Now the hope is that other owners will step up and say, This disciplinary process doesn’t make sense. We need to negotiate a new one with the union.”
Atallah said Kraft is now learning the hard way that someone needs to stand up to Goodell.
“For somebody like him to step up and say that he made a mistake by not fighting the initial discipline against the team, that’s exactly why we fight everything,” he said. “We fight every violation of our players’ due process.”
It’s not often that the players’ union views an owner as an ally, but that’s how the NFLPA now views Kraft. The union and the Patriots have a common enemy in Goodell.