BOCA RATON, Fla.—New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday he wrote to Commissioner Roger Goodell over a month ago asking to have the team’s first-round pick in next month’s NFL draft reinstated.

The NFL stripped the Patriots of their first-round choice as part of the ‘Deflategate’ penalties imposed on the franchise last year.

Kraft would not comment on what reply, if any, he received from Goodell about his letter.

Kraft suggested that his letter also sought to have the league’s four-game Deflategate suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady rescinded. The NFL has appealed a federal judge’s ruling last year that overturned Brady’s suspension. The league and the NFL Players Association are awaiting a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on the NFL’s appeal.

Speaking to reporters during a break at the annual league meeting, Kraft said he believes that Goodell has done “a very good job,” other than Deflategate.

The NFL declined to comment through a spokesman.

“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. “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. We have laid it out pretty straightforward and now it’s up to them to decide.”

The Patriots were fined $1 million and stripped of a first-round draft selection this year and a fourth-round pick in 2017 in the penalties announced by the NFL in May 2015. The penalties were tied to the Patriots’ use of footballs determined by the NFL to be improperly under-inflated, in the first half of the AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts following the 2014 season.

The draft’s opening round is scheduled for April 28.

Kraft acknowledged that fellow owners probably are not clamoring for the Patriots’ draft choices to be returned to them.

“I don’t think you’ll see any momentum among our peers,” he said. “I wish they would because they could be in a similar position. But we have put our best case forward and that’s in the league’s hands.”

Asked by a reporter whether his letter to Goodell also sought to have Brady’s suspension addressed, Kraft said: “I’ve really moved on from that. But you’re a wise man. You can put your own interpretations.”

Kraft said he sent the letter “over a month ago.”

Goodell has not said whether he would reinstate Brady’s four-game suspension if the NFL prevails in its appeal of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman overturning the penalty. Kraft did not directly address his feelings about the NFL’s appeal of Berman’s decision or the prospects of the issue being resolved by the league and the players’ union before the appeals court rules.

“I’m excited about the upcoming season and I’m trying to look forward, and we’ve covered that as best we can,” he said. “I’m moving on from that.”

Kraft was similarly elusive when asked if he’d received a response from Goodell to his letter, saying: “I’m moving on from that as well.”

It seems unlikely that the NFL would relent on the Patriots’ penalties while it seeks in court to reinstate its right to suspend Brady, even if Goodell has said that appeal is about the league seeking to assert its rights under the sport’s collective bargaining agreement and not directly about Brady.

There have been reports throughout the process about other owners not wanting to see Goodell allow the Patriots to escape punishment or be punished lightly because of his relationship with Kraft, which once was described as very close.

League and union have been negotiating potential changes to the sport’s system of player discipline and Goodell’s role in it. The union is seeking independent arbitration for players’ appeals of discipline imposed by the league in cases under the sport’s integrity-of-the-game rules, like Brady’s, and under its personal conduct policy. Currently, Goodell is empowered to resolve appeals in such cases. The players already have third-party arbitration of other forms of league-imposed discipline, such as penalties under the sport’s drug policies and for illegal on-field hits.

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, said last year that the league and union were having the right conversations toward reaching a player-discipline accord. He said at the Super Bowl he was cautiously optimistic a deal would be struck. A person familiar with the deliberations said recently that slow progress was being made and he believed the league and union eventually will reach an agreement but a deal, in that person’s view, probably is not imminent.

Some outside observers have suggested that a player-discipline accord between the league and NFLPA, if reached, also might include a settlement of the Brady case resolving his suspension. Some legal experts said following the courtroom hearing on the NFL’s appeal that the league’s chances of prevailing might have been bolstered based on the perception that the appeals court judges seemed to question Brady’s attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, more sharply that day than they questioned the NFL’s lawyer, Paul Clement.

Of Goodell’s tenure as commissioner, Kraft said: “Putting personal situations aside, I think he’s done a very good job. He’s worked hard. The health of the league has not been better. We have our issue that we don’t think has been handled well. But it is what it is.”

Kraft decided last year not to challenge the Patriots’ penalties in court.

“When you join the NFL as a partnership, you agree to abide by certain rules and conditions,” he said Monday. “We have tried to work the system as best we can and now it’s working its way out.”

The NFL conducted random checks of the air pressure of footballs at games league-wide this past season and said it found no violations, but did not release its data.

“They did their own testing,” Kraft said. “They have results. But for whatever reason they haven’t shared them with any of us. And we actually requested at the beginning of this season that they test every game throughout the league and do that. They chose to do it their own way.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.