When New York Times writer Mark Leibovich spent some time with Donald Trump back in the fall of 2015, he began to realize just how highly Trump thought of the Patriots -- particularly Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
That, in turn, led to some pretty scathing remarks from the now-President about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. At the time, Goodell had already punished Kraft and the Patriots for Deflategate, and the league was in pursuit of a four-game suspension for Brady.
"The commissioner is a weak guy," Trump said at the time. "When he made the Ray Rice deal, everybody said: You’re stupid. You’re weak. And it was such a weak deal. So now he’s going overboard with their star, Brady."
He added: "The commissioner is a dope. He’s a stupid guy."
Trump's opinion of Goodell, it seems, led to him criticizing his friend Kraft for the way the Patriots chairman and CEO handled the Deflategate punishment levied on the Patriots: two draft picks, including a first-rounder, and a record fine.
"You know, Bob Kraft is also one of my best friends," Trump said. "I said, 'Bob, you should have never made the deal.' "
The "deal" in this instance, according to Trump, was Kraft accepting the team penalty in order for the league to show some leniency when it came to Brady's punishment.
Trump went on: "Bob said, 'I had a wink from the commissioner' . . . He choked, just like Romney choked. He said: 'You know what? They winked at me.' I said, 'Bob when you make a deal, you should have gotten it all wrapped up.'
"Who ever heard of making a deal like that? Now you got this mess."