Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, was caught on tape in midJanuary allegedly attempting to pay for sex.
The New England Patriots are grabbing headlines once again, only this time for all the wrong reasons. Owner Robert Kraft was arrested Feb. 22 and charged on Feb. 25 with soliciting a prostitute at a massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida.
Kraft is only one of 25 men being charged in the large-scale sting operation, the result of an ongoing investigation surrounding human trafficking in Florida.
On Jan. 19 and 20, Kraft allegedly visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, according to affidavits filed by Martin Country authorities. These charges allege the wrongdoing took place around the same time as the AFC Championship Game, where the New England Patriots were facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs.
There is video evidence of the first incident, showing Kraft visiting the spa and paying in cash at the front desk. After the illicit events took place, Kraft left the facility and was later pulled over by police during a routine traffic stop, confirming his location. Kraft returned to the spa the following morning, Jan. 20, for similar services, afterwards flying to Kansas City for the AFC Championship game.
What will happen to Robert Kraft? There are two areas in which Kraft could face punishment: the Florida judicial system and the NFL.
The repercussions for the two are supposedly independent of one another, yet both come directly into play considering the reputation of commissioner Roger Goodell regarding outside misconduct by members of the league.
Regarding administrative conduct, the NFL’s personal conduct policy states: “Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the Personal Conduct Policy occur.”
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay similarly was suspended for six games and fined the maximum $500,000 in 2014. Irsay pleaded guilty to both driving while intoxicated and possessing controlled substances.
Additional examples of commissioner-sponsored punishment can be found in disciplinary actions against both other members of franchise front offices and players. Investigations and punishments against Tom Brady, Jerry Richardson and Ezekiel Elliott are primary examples.
Goodell’s past stances on individual conduct suggests that he will take some type of action against Kraft. However, it is extremely unlikely that Kraft will be punished by the league in any meaningful way.
Off-the-field issues for players are not a new phenomenon; players have been getting suspended for years in the NFL, and this brand of misconduct is not uncommon. The unusual aspect of this is merely the opportunity to set an example regarding the misconduct of administrators and owners, the latter of which rarely face any sort of palpable consequences.
This is an opportunity for the NFL to communicate similar standards between administrative staff and players, and take a strong stance against misconduct at all levels of the organization.
If players can receive suspensions or expulsions for something as minor as marijuana, owners and other administrative staff should be held to a similar standard, especially in a situation as serious as that of Robert Kraft’s.