Patriots

Patriots

If Tom Brady had been suspended for Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft told 98.5 The Sports Hub the team wouldn't have raised the Super Bowl banner without their quarterback.

No Brady, no banner. Of course. 

Instead, Kraft said, the team would have unveiled a banner honoring their quarterback.

Was it a "Free Brady" banner? Or would it say "12" somewhere?

Kraft explained that " '1' and '2' was on it. Not 'free.' And there may have been some other things that were on the banner. It was much more factual and substantive than that.  Tom may have been a three-time Super Bowl MVP and a four-time Super Bowl winner, and that may have been a part of it too."

Now that Brady will be under center Week 1, the Super Bowl championship banner will be raised as planned.

Here are a few other notes from Kraft's interview with the Sports Hub . . . 

On how Kraft heard the news: "I was actually on a conference call on a deal, and it came flashing across my Reuters screen, and I yelled out an expletive, and then I told the people on the phone goodbye."

On Brady's reaction: "Tom was very happy . . . He's had to take time. He likes when the season starts to just be focused on getting ready for the season . . . No matter how strong you are mentally, when you have that going on, it takes something away. I think there was some relief . . . I think he's really excited, and he's excited to be on the field Thursday night where he belongs."

 

On Brady as the NFL's "poster child": "Tom is the poster child with what's right in the NFL. He's the greatest quarterback of all time, he's an amazing role model . . . He's an exceptional guy. And why he was put through this, I guess Judge [Richard] Berman questioned that also. I realize today was much more about the process that got him there, but Tom Brady deserved this vindication . . . When a guy like that is unfairly targeted, it should get to anybody that's a real fan of the game."

On whether the Patriots would pursue the first-round pick they lost as punishment for Deflategate: "Robert's a man of his word, and we're part of a partnership. I would never say never to anything, but as I sit here today it's not our intention."

On John Jastremski and Jim McNally's potential reinstatement: "The way the discipline was set up by the league, the team and the employees that aren't players are not covered by collective bargaining. The team, and they were direct employees of the team, part of the discipline of the league was applying and getting permission from the league to reinstate them, and that's something I'm sure we'll be talking about."

On the 16-0 banner, which is no longer hanging at Gillette Stadium: "Since we won another Super Bowl, nothing football-related should clutter up the football end zone other than Super Bowl banners . . . We'll figure that one out. We might send it to Don Shula. That's a joke!"