Kraft Caves, Won't Fight Penalty

Today was not an easy day for Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization, as the owner reluctantly accepted the ridiculous penalty levied by the NFL in the overblown #Deflategate situation. As hard as it was for Kraft, it was worse for Patriot fans and players.

Patriots fans may be basking in the glow of another Super Bowl title, but the truth is today hurts for the most reviled fan base in all of pro sports. New England fans don't deserve the treatment they receive, but once the fans of the other 31 teams got a taste of the Spygate situation, the hatred for all things Patriot began. The sentiment was always the same- "win a fourth Super Bowl and prove you didn't cheat." Well, 2014 came around and the Patriots finally were on their way after a 45-7 romp of the Colts in the AFC Title game. Fans were pumped as the Patriots had their best chance to win the Super Bowl due to their excellent secondary and explosive offense.

Then they woke up the following morning to stories of low PSI and partially deflated footballs, and the fun quickly ended. Two weeks later, after listening to the media tear apart their favorite team's accomplishments, things improved greatly as the Patriots beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl for the ages. After that, there was about three weeks of bliss, but then the offseason of hell began. As we waited for the Wells Report to be released, we watched Darrelle Revis bolt back to the Jets and the rest of the Patriots cornerbacks get cut and sign elsewhere. Although frustrated, fans were still able to remind themselves that Belichick always finds a way. Most fans believed the Wells Report would exonerate them and wouldn't have any future repercussions. Needless to say that those beliefs were way off base.

When the Wells Report was finally released, it was another gut punch, and the league was ready to hand down a HARSH penalty. The suspension is rough, but losing draft picks can be crippling. The Patriots have done damage in the first and fourth round in past drafts, finding MANY starters that contributed to four championships, and being docked those two picks will have an effect on the Patriots roster building. When the Wells Report was dissected by the media and fans, it appeared very flawed and vague, but according to the legal crowd, it would have held up in court, regardless of zero hard evidence. Tom Brady has an excellent chance of winning in court if he doesn't have the suspension wiped out by the commissioner; the NFL simply cant prove Brady knew anything, and his lawyers will prove that. It is considerably easier for players to win in court against the NFL versus teams winning in court.

Robert Kraft claimed he was going to fight and Patriot fans were excited because they felt, and justifiably so, that this whole situation was overblown and the penalty was unfair. The Patriots legal team released their rebuttal, which did a good job at times to show the Patriots innocence but reached with the text messages, and that made it seem like this really was headed towards the courthouse. There is no appeal process for owners and teams, so Kraft dropping his "appeal" today is technically incorrect. What he should have said was he isn't going to court to battle the league and 31 other teams; some say it is a move based on being smart and wanting to move on, but the truth is it's all about money. Patriots' fans were once again kicked in the gut as Kraft walked away with his tail between his legs after pumping his fist last week upon hearing the punishment.

Has any fanbase ever had less fun after winning a Super Bowl the previous season?

With Kraft "reluctantly" accepting the penalty today, Patriots fans will now forever hear the word "tainted" from the legion of Patriots Haters across the country. Yes, there are a lot of national and worldwide Patriot fans, but the haters are real, and for every Patriot fan that says their team is the best, they'll be a hater there to call them "cheats". It is going to reach the point where Patriot fans are going to watch their team play and completely walk away from social media and shows like SportsCenter. Who wants to listen to their team get bashed? Nobody does, and this isn't fair to the fans.

The moron(s) who decided to take a needle to the ball, if this did happen, should be ashamed of themselves for bringing drama to an organization that was just starting to get over the Spygate fiasco. 2014 was going to be the year to win and cleanse themselves, but instead of cleansing themselves, they further dirtied their reputation around the rest of the NFL. New England fans and the players don't deserve this, and everyone, including those who leaked reports (talking to you Indy) should be ashamed of themselves. This is a basic penalty in the rulebook and because the NFL doesn't properly function at its highest level, the Patriots were dragged into a media-induced witch hunt that turned a basic equipment penalty into the biggest fiasco in NFL history. Hey Indy, I'm sure you're all loving what happened today, but I would be very worried come Week Five, because your team might allow the most points in history.

Patriots fans, keep your head up and remember that every great dynasty in the NFL has been fined by the NFL for either a real issue or an overblown issue. The NFL wants parity, and they'll do anything to make it happen. Unfortunately for Goodell and the NFL, Belichick and Co. have all the motivation they need to go out and capture their fifth title. So go ahead, take the picks, Belichick will use the compensatory picks he's getting for the losses of Revis and Browner and everything will work out in Foxboro, like it always does.

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