|Patriots owner says he didn't know team was using videocamera|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 16 September 2007 17:53|
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he didn't know his team was using a sideline camera that brought a hefty fine and loss of a draft pick, and expressed displeasure Sunday night with coach Bill Belichick for violating an NFL rule.|
The videocamera was confiscated during the first quarter of the season-opening 38-14 win at the New York Jets.
``Before last Sunday's game, I had no knowledge of this practice,'' Kraft said Sunday night in an NBC television interview at halftime of New England's game against the San Diego Chargers. ``I must tell you, it was really disappointing, especially after such a great game.
``What made it particularly disheartening, in our group of companies we hold people to very high standards, and this isn't what we're about. I've discussed that with coach Belichick.''
Kraft promised that ``it won't happen again.''
He declined to comment on a report on ESPN.com that Belichick had agreed to a contract extension through 2013.
``The coach and I have had a policy that we don't discuss his contract, but he's made great contributions to this franchise over the last seven years, and myself, and all of our fans, truly appreciate his efforts,'' Kraft said.
Kraft issued a written statement after the penalty imposed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was announced Thursday night. Belichick was fined $500,000, the maximum allowed, and the team $250,000. The Patriots also would lose a first-round draft choice next year if they make the playoffs, or a second- and third-rounder if they don't.
At first, Kraft thought that was too severe.
``I must tell you I was quite upset and perturbed when I saw the penalty, because I didn't think that the incident deserved this kind of punishment,'' he said. ``Over the last couple of days I've been thinking about it and have cooled down. I realized he wasn't just sending a message to the New England Patriots, he was sending it to all 32 teams.
``I support that and I think so do the fans who emotionally get charged by us.''
Belichick was ``very articulate'' in presenting his side of the videotaping to Goodell, Kraft said.
But the owner wouldn't say if he was considering additional action against his coach.
``Commissioner Goodell levied the highest penalty on anyone in the history of the NFL between the first-round draft choice and the financial penalty,'' Kraft said. ``He made his statement known. We accepted it. Coach Belichick apologized and from here on in, it will be handled as an internal, private Patriots matter.''
In a letter to the Patriots announcing the penalty, Goodell had said, ``This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid long-standing rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field.''
He said he considered suspending Belichick but didn't ``largely because I believe that the discipline I am imposing of a maximum fine and forfeiture of a first-round draft choice, or multiple draft choices, is in fact more significant and long-lasting, and therefore more effective, than a suspension.''
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