- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 5, 2017

Seemingly everybody who wanted the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl cited, at least in part, the prospect of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell having to present the trophy to the team he had accused for years of cheating. And owner Robert Kraft did not disappoint.

Mr. Goodell handed the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Mr. Kraft — to audible boos from the crowd — after the Patriots’ dramatic 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons, and he was asked by TV interviewer Terry Bradshaw to compare it to the four previous wins.

Mr. Kraft promptly referred to not having quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games, a reference to his suspension over “deflategate,” a purported cheating scandal that Mr. Goodell and the Patriots battled for two years all the way to the Supreme Court.

The league won because of the commissioner’s absolute power over player discipline, to howls of anger and claims of innocence from Brady, the team and its fans.

“A lot has transpired over the last two years,” Mr. Kraft said in saying that this victory was sweeter than the team’s previous victory two years ago over the Seattle Seahawks.

“And I don’t think that needs any explanation,” Mr. Kraft said, never once looking towards Mr. Goodell after the trophy was in his hands.

Neither Brady nor team coach Bill Belichick used his post-game time on the podium to refer, even allusively, to “deflategate,” though at least Brady could be seen shaking Mr. Goodell’s hand.

The league accused the Patriots of illegally deflating footballs before the AFC Championship Game two years ago, or to the resulting legal fights over the Brady suspension.

The Patriots also had run-ins with the league over purported illegal taping of practices, technology glitches at its stadium, and the fudging of injury reports.

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