"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 to 98.5 The Sports Hub prior to the preseason game against the New Orleans Saints. "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."
Kraft made a point of stating that this was not entirely about DeflateGate and how the league has botched the process at every turn. It's a point to how NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has absolutely whiffed on the disciplinary actions during BountyGate, the bullying scandal in Miami, and the headline trio of domestic violence cases with Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson.
"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," Kraft continued. "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."
While Kraft doesn't have an idea on how to exact change in the league structure (spoiler: independent arbitration hearings), he's not alone in his thoughts. There have been some owners that have talked about how Goodell is embarrassing the sport of football and how they're getting "uncomfortable" with how DeflateGate has played out.
At least one team owner- well, heir to the San Francisco 49ers empire and current team CEO- has quietly made his opinion known. In MMQB, Peter King highlights the fact that Jed York retweeted Schefter's original announcement of Kraft's thoughts. (King also takes the time to apologize for confirming ESPN's Chris Mortensen's erroneous "11 of 12 footballs" report.)
It will take the support of owners to remove or limit Goodell's power in the next collective bargaining agreement and it starts with other owners agreeing with Jonathan Kraft's statements.
And Kraft is absolutely right. It's deplorable that the narrative of February through August has been about approximately 0.2 PSI in a handful of footballs, when June and July are really the only dead periods in football news. The over-saturation of football might not have an immediate effect- the annual Hall of Fame Game was welcomed back with a 28% increase in viewers over last year- but not a single person will point to DeflateGate as the driving reason for an increased interest in the game of football.
People will watch football because it's a great product and it's well produced for television. They won't watch it for the legal drama, and they certainly won't support the NFL every time they show a complete lack of credibility and sensibility towards domestic violence.
In March of 2014, the one NBA owner, Mark Cuban, warned that "the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion...pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they're getting hoggy...when you try to take it too far, people turn the other way."
The ineffectual way Goodell has handled every softball toss in his direction over the past few years has certainly kept the NFL hog in the headlines, but he's been feeding the animal with garbage- and Goodell is left to be the one acting like a pig.