Irsay, Dungy, Polian Praise Gesture Made by Kraft, Belichick
PALM BEACH, Fla. – Jim Irsay said the gesture wasn't needed.
But once it was made on Tuesday by New England Patriots Owner Bob Kraft and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Irsay – the Colts' Owner and Chief Executive Officer – said it was very much appreciated.
Kraft and Belichick each addressed the NFL owners and head coaches on Tuesday morning during the 2008 NFL Owners Meetings at The Breakers in Palm Beach, addressing the so-called "Spygate" incident in the Patriots' 2008 season opener.
Last season, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell penalized the Patriots and Belichick for videotaping defensive signals against the New York Jets in the regular-season opener, fining Belichick $500,000 and taking away from the Patriots a first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Kraft told the meeting he considered the NFL a family and understood the incident had caused problems for everyone, Patriots spokesman Stacey James told Bloomberg Tuesday.
"I think it was something that wasn't necessary," Irsay said Tuesday, "but obviously they felt compelled to say something. Personally, I'm past it. I think there was a very stiff punishment handed down very quickly. As I said before the Super Bowl, you have to move on at some point. You can't keep punishing someone for something that has been dealt with from a disciplinary standpoint. I thought it was good for them to address it for the last, final time and clear the air.
"I didn't think it was necessary. I think most of us were past it. . . . I think as owners, we've moved past it. To me, it's a past issue, but the fact that they did it shows class.''
Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy spoke several minutes with Kraft later in the afternoon, and although he declined to speak extensively on the matter, he said of Kraft's words to the meeting, "It was very, very sincere and very heartfelt. I appreciated what he had to say."
Colts President Bill Polian was not present in the meeting, but learned of the actions of Kraft and Belichick later.
"I certainly appreciate everything Mr. Kraft and his family have done," Polian said. "They've made this league a much better league and they continue to do so. Certainly, from one man's point of view, a working stiff's point of view, he certainly doesn't need to apologize for anything.
"The New England Patriots have been a bellweather for this league for as long as the Kraft family has owned them. They're tough to play against, but that's all to the good."