-- HOUSTON --? New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft believes Deflategate, which started two years ago and ultimately led to Tom Brady being suspended the first four games of this season, "galvanized" the Patriots and brought them closer together.
Kraft openly criticized Roger Goodell's handling of the situation and recently said he wasn't sure if his relationship with the NFL commissioner would ever be the same.
"Everyone wants to protect their family," Kraft said Monday at Super Bowl Opening Night. "I think our family was accused of being involved in something that was mishandled and inappropriate and became a big distraction. Leadership is about stepping up when it's the appropriate time and making sure everyone knows that we're all on the same page. Sometimes in a complicated situation in a business, people start pointing fingers, and we want to assure everyone that we're all together.
"When tough times come at you, there's a line in the Old Testament that says there's nothing bad that happens that doesn't have good associated with it if you manage it properly. I think in a way that galvanized our whole team, and we became very close last year. ... We're really pleased we got to this game, and it's sort of been a peaceful year, and we hope we have the privilege of winning on Sunday."
The Patriots were also fined $1 million and stripped of a first-round draft pick last year following the league's investigation, but it was Goodell's insistence on suspending Brady four games that was still a big topic of conversation Monday night.
Brady, however, wasn't interested in engaging reporters asking about his relationship with Goodell.
"I've moved on," Brady said. "I focus on positive things in my life, and I've made a concerted effort to be focused on what my goals were, which are ahead of me. Nothing that's been in the past -- good, bad, indifferent, neutral -- none of those things help going forward."