With Robert Kraft Facing Charges, Attention Turns To NFL's Response
Patriots Owner Robert Kraft is "expected to be charged" as early as today by Florida state prosecutors for soliciting prostitution, according to Fox & Hilliard of the BOSTON GLOBE. Kraft faces "two counts of solicitation of prostitution, and a warrant will be issued for his arrest." After the Jupiter (Fla.) Police Department named Kraft in its case on Friday, he reportedly "spent part of the weekend in California attending parties ahead of the Oscars." A source said that Kraft has also been "seeking local legal representation in Florida" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/25). NBC News' Dylan Byers writes Kraft's arrest could "precipitate the downfall of one of the most powerful men in the business of American sports, one whose influence extends to the worlds of media and entertainment, real estate and private equity (BYERS MARKET, 2/25). In Boston, Bob Hohler in a front-page piece noted hidden surveillance cameras at the Orchids of Asia day spa "recorded Kraft engaging in a sex act with a prostitute during two alleged visits to the club between Jan. 18 and Jan. 22." A spokesperson for Kraft said, "We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity." President Trump said, “I was very surprised to see it. He’s proclaimed his innocence totally and -- but I’m very surprised to see it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/23). The GLOBE's Hohler & Hilliard noted "embarrassing details" of Kraft's visits to the spa "may be forthcoming, as prosecutors are required to present evidence to show they have probable cause to issue an arrest warrant for him" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/24).
WHAT WILL GOODELL DO? NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King notes Roger Goodell in his 12-and-a-half years as NFL Commissioner "hasn’t faced a situation like this one," which makes it "difficult to forecast what Goodell will do to Kraft, if the charges are true." If Kraft is found guilty, Goodell "couldn’t give Kraft a hefty fine alone," and he would be "more likely than not to be suspended." To recoup his image, Kraft could "agree to lead an NFL initiative to help fight human trafficking, and provide significant seed money for the project" (NBCSPORTS.com, 2/25). In Boston, Karen Guregian wrote it is "hard to believe Goodell will be inclined to throw the book at Kraft and take away draft choices, or force him to sell" the Patriots. It would "seem more in line with a fine and perhaps a suspension of games" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/23). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell wrote Goodell’s track record on personal conduct matters "suggests that he’ll take action against Kraft," but the "key will be the swiftness and substance of any such move." Kraft "deserves his due process but not a double standard" (USATODAY.com, 2/23). In N.Y., Ken Belson wrote Goodell will "be under pressure to penalize" Kraft to "compensate for the embarrassment the league has suffered." Kraft’s case is "complicated," as he was "charged with two misdemeanors, and those charges may be reduced or dropped as charges of soliciting a prostitute often are" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/23). But ESPN's Jeff Darlington noted the NFL does not "need to use whatever happens in the legal system" to punish Kraft. The league's personal conduct policy states owners are "held traditionally to a higher standard" than other league personnel. Darlington: "If a violation 'damages the reputation of others in the game and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL,' that person can be disciplined" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/23).
ALL EYES ON KRAFT: SI.com's Michael McCann explored the Kraft case under the header, "Potential Defenses, How The NFL Might Respond" (2/22). MASSLIVE.com's Andrew Callahan went with, "What’s Next In Robert Kraft's Criminal Case, What Are His Potential Penalties And Will The Patriots Owner Go To Trial?" (MASSLIVE.com, 2/23). Kraft's case was the focus of Michael Ramirez's cartoon in the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 2/24).