San Francisco, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - In the interest of moving on, the New England Patriots are moving on.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced Tuesday that the team will "reluctantly" accept the penalties handed down by the NFL in the deflated footballs scandal.
During an unexpected 5 1/2-minute address at the NFL owners' meetings, Kraft said "DeflateGate" has already taken up too much time and it's in the best interests of the league and its 32 teams for the Patriots to move on.
"I don't want to continue the rhetoric that's gone on the past four months," said Kraft. "I'm going to accept, reluctantly, what (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) has given to us and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric and we won't appeal.
"I know a lot of Patriot fans are going to be disappointed in that decision but I hope they trust my judgement and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL and I hope you all can respect that."
The NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and docked them two draft picks based on the investigation of attorney Ted Wells, whose report found the team violated league rules and failed to cooperate with the probe over improperly inflated footballs in January's AFC Championship Game against Indianapolis.
Kraft reiterated Tuesday that he thinks the Wells report was unfair and based on circumstantial evidence and that the penalties handed down by the NFL were "way over the top," but also said the process has taken too long.
"I don't think anyone can believe that after four months of the AFC Championship Game, we are still talking about air pressure and the PSI in footballs," he said.
Kraft didn't take questions Tuesday and didn't address the four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady, who the Wells report found was "generally aware" that two Patriots employees were letting the air out of footballs.
The NFL players union has filed an appeal on behalf of Brady, who has denied any wrongdoing.
Kraft said in an interview published Monday that he believes Brady didn't direct footballs to be altered for the AFC Championship Game, which the Patriots won 45-7 on the way to their fourth Super Bowl title in the Brady era.
"We had the discussion -- if you did it, let's just deal with it and take our hit and move on," Kraft told Peter King. "I've known Tommy 16 years, almost half his life. He's a man, and he's always been honest with me, and I trust him. I believed what he told me. He has never lied to me, and I have found no hard or conclusive evidence to the contrary."
Kraft didn't comment on the team's suspensions of locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski, the central figures in the deflated balls scandal.