PHOENIX — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sidestepped most questions about Deflategate at Tuesday’s Super Bowl XLIX media day after offering a staunch defense of his team, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady a day earlier.
However Kraft did direct a sugar-coated jibe at remarks made Sunday by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who said the owner’s ties to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would likely prevent the Patriots from being punished.
“Well, I think Richard Sherman is a very smart marketing whiz,” he said.
But the Deflategate cloud lingers.
“I’m going to speak about our football team and the game Sunday,” Kraft said.
Of course, he was asked about addressing the media Monday after the Patriots’ arrival in Arizona and giving his embattled franchise his full support amid the continuing controversy over whether the Patriots used illegally deflated balls during the AFC Championship Game.
“My instincts said to me that was the right thing to do. We have special people in Tom and Bill,” said Kraft, who declined to go into specifics of the matter or rehash his defense.
“Now it’s time to talk about football.”
“Probably not. Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes,” said Sherman. “I think he was just at Kraft’s house last week for the AFC championship. You talk about conflict of interest. But as long as that happens it won’t affect them at all.”
Kraft explained that the league used to pay for a “big party” at the AFC Championship Game.
“It’s a way to try to grow revenues for the NFL and our team. So I think Mr. Sherman understood that he’s the biggest beneficiary because they (players) get over 50% of the revenues.
“So he didn’t go to Harvard, (but) Stanford must be pretty good because he figured it out.”