BOCA RATON, Fla. — Patriots owner Robert Kraft pleaded to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell via a letter, but the team won’t be getting back the first-round draft pick it forfeited for Deflategate.
In fact, the topic was never even discussed this week at the NFL owners meetings.
Four NFL owners told the Globe at the conclusion of the meetings Wednesday morning that the 32 owners never talked about giving back this year’s first-round pick to the Patriots, and that Kraft never addressed the topic in the league’s closed-door meetings.
One NFC owner, when asked if there was any appetite for considering the Patriots’ pleas and reducing the penalties, stated bluntly: “No. Not at all.”
Giants owner John Mara and Steelers chairman Art Rooney reiterated that sentiment.
“I would speculate that the answer to that would probably be no,” Mara said. “It was not discussed at all, at any time, since we’ve been down here.”
“We didn’t have any discussion on the floor, no,” Rooney said.
Goodell confirmed Wednesday that the Patriots’ punishments will stand. They were docked a 2016 first-round pick, a 2017 fourth-round pick, and fined $1 million for their role in Deflategate and for not, in the NFL’s view, giving 100 percent cooperation to investigator Ted Wells.
Kraft sent a letter to Goodell about a month ago asking the league to reconsider its penalties against the Patriots, who have long professed their innocence and continue to update their website, The Wells Report In Context, with their passionate defense.
Kraft also asked the NFL to reduce the penalty against Tom Brady, who faces the prospect of a four-game suspension if the NFL wins its appeal over Brady and the NFL Players Association in federal court. Kraft emphasized that Brady’s performance in 2015 was just as good if not better than ever, even with the NFL instituting stricter protections around football custody and random PSI testing.
“I personally wrote a letter to the commissioner responding to his comment that if any new facts came up he would take them into consideration,” Kraft said Monday. “And I personally believe that when the league made their decision, they did not factor in the ideal gas law. They admitted that publicly.
“They’ve had a full year of being able to observe Tom Brady play with all the rules of whatever the NFL was and make any judgments there, and we have laid it out pretty straightforward, and now it’s up to them to decide.”
Goodell said Wednesday that he replied to Kraft about two weeks ago, and did not find any reason to reduce the penalties.
“I told him that I had considered his views,” said the commissioner. “I didn’t think there was any new information in there that would cause us to alter discipline. So there will be no changes to the discipline.”
Goodell also was asked about settling with Brady and the NFLPA before the appeals court reaches its decision. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that a settlement was possible as the NFL and NFLPA were growing closer to altering the league’s discipline policy, but Goodell shot down any notion of a settlement.
“I’m not aware of that,” he said.
The NFL and NFLPA are awaiting the results of the appeal, which was heard in front of three judges March 3 at the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. A decision of two of three judges is needed for either side to win, although a ruling may not be announced until at least May or June. Brady won the initial lawsuit in September, allowing him to play the entire 2015 season, but the appellate judges can reverse the decision and force Brady to miss four games in 2016.
Goodell also dismissed the notion that the NFL and NFLPA are close to creating a new system of discipline that would potentially strip Goodell of his powers and put them in the hands of a neutral arbitrator, as the Wall Street Journal also reported.
“We are not close to an agreement by any stretch of the imagination on any changes to that as it relates to third party or other individuals making those decisions,” Goodell said. “But we are open to them. We’ll continue to have that dialogue directly with the union.”
Goodell said the NFL is willing to modify the current system and potentially remove the commissioner as the chief discipline officer. However, the NFL owners aren’t simply going to cede their disciplinary powers to the NFLPA without getting something big back in return.
“I’ve been very open over the last several years, and we have had discussions about the discipline process for decades,” Goodell said. “We began after we signed our collective bargaining agreement in 2011 to discuss how we can modify the existing plan, and we’re always open to that. If we find a better discipline system, let’s do it.”