(SportsNetwork.com) - Robert Kraft had the big bark, but history will confirm there was no bite as the New England Patriots owner tapped out on Tuesday, deciding his team will "reluctantly" accept the NFL penalties handed down in the deflated footballs scandal.
"I don't want to continue the rhetoric," Kraft said at the NFL's spring league meeting. "I'm going to accept, reluctantly, what (the league) has given to us. We won't appeal."
That was a 180-degree turn for Kraft days after amping up that rhetoric by allowing his legal team to release a 20,000-word rebuttal to the NFL-sponsored Wells Report, which implicated quarterback Tom Brady and two low-level employees in the scandal.
Kraft's decision, however, will have absolutely no bearing on how the NFLPA will proceed in regards to Brady, who officially appealed his four-game suspension last week.
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah took to Twitter moments after Kraft spoke to make the union's position clear: "The Patriots may not appeal, but this will not impact the NFLPA appeal of the 4 game suspension of Tom Brady."
Kraft tried to frame his about-face as a epiphany while at the same time looking to save face, claiming the interests of the 32 teams as a whole are more important than the Patriots' needs.
"You know what I've learned over the last two decades is that the heart and soul of the strength of the NFL is a partnership of 32 teams. What's become very clear over those two decades (is) that at no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32," Kraft claimed in a rare socialist moment for a billionaire.
He also attempted to calm the Patriots' fans, many of whom stood behind the organization with what now is confirmed as nothing more than blind loyalty bordering on stupidity.
"I have a way of looking at problems that are very strong in my mind," Kraft said. "Before I make a final decision, I measure nine times and I cut once. I think maybe if I had made the decision last week it would be different than it is today. But believing in the strength of the partnership and the 32 teams, we have concentrated the power of adjudication of problems in the office of the commissioner. Although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for the Commissioner and believe that he's doing what he perceives to be in the best interest of the full 32.
"Now I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision, but I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time, taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL, and I hope you all can respect that."
No need to worry there. The Kool-Aid cups will be filled to the brim in Boston as they always are, but the end game here is that Kraft took the temperature of his fellow owners before making the decision to submit.
He realized he didn't have the necessary support to push things with Roger Goodell and begged off because the commissioner enjoys staunch support amongst the league's most powerful owners despite his consistent missteps over the past calendar year.
In essence this was a concession speech by Kraft and points to the fact Goodell remains safe because the Dan Rooneys and John Maras of this world believe he is irreplaceable.
And assuming no one else is capable of stewarding a massive, billion-dollar industry on autopilot without the numerous public relations follies Goodell has spawned is a specious as it gets.
Kraft and the league are now hoping the ugly volleying between the two sides will slowly evaporate because the Patriots will be accepting a $1 million fine and the loss of a 2016 first-round draft pick and a 2017 fourth-round selection.
Instead they created more whispers with many already speculating Kraft has a handshake deal with Goodell to reduce Brady's suspension (unlikely), and others claiming the Pats owner secured a bird in the hand for some future quid pro quo (somewhat more likely).
Either way, if the NFL's owners think perceived back-room dealings between Kraft and Goodell make them look better in the long run, they are even more out of touch than we all thought.