NEW ORLEANS --New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said that it might be time to rethink the NFL's disciplinary process in which commissioner Roger Goodell has ultimate decision-making authority.
Kraft, speaking during a radio interview before New England's preseason game Saturday against the New Orleans Saints, was clear that he wasn't speaking specifically about the NFL's handling of its investigation into underinflated footballs, but instead from a big-picture viewpoint.
"The personal conduct policy and how discipline would be handled by the commissioner started under [former commissioner] Paul [Tagliabue] and was strengthened under Roger," Kraft said during his weekly pregame radio interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub. "You have to look back to the middle part of the last decade when the real premise of how it's done was created.
"I think the world has changed and the complexity of some of the situations -- things that I don't think we ever thought we would be dealing with, we're dealing with."
Kraft stated he wasn't "referring to footballs and air pressure," but instead "the seriousness of a lot of the other issues that we're dealing with," including domestic violence.
"There probably needs to be a rethinking so that the league office and the commissioner aren't put in a spotlight in a way that detracts from the league's image and the game -- even if the league office is doing the right thing, or the wrong thing, or whatever you think," Kraft said. "It probably needs to be rethought for the modern era that we're in and the different things that are coming up that I don't think people anticipated and how the public wants to see them treated.
"At the end of the day, our league consumes the country's consciousness for big periods of the year and what we're doing at the league level, and what the players are doing and coaches are doing should be the focus of how the public views us that vast majority of the time. I'm talking about all the things that have been talked about over the last year. I think it's a general big-picture issue that needs to be addressed, but I don't have any answers for you today."
Kraft was then asked who would be involved in making such a change, and answered that it "definitely involves all parties" -- a reference to owners and players.
"I think the league office, with the business of football, there is so much to handle day to day, and so much to do," he said. "I think there needs to be a prescribed process for how certain parts of the discipline process are going to work, especially probably the appeals, so that the spotlight and the attention doesn't all have to fall on Park Avenue. I'm not saying Park Avenue is capable or not capable. I'm not making a value judgment with what I'm saying. I think I'm just making a big-picture macro observation."