The Robert Kraft situation is expected to take a legal turn on Monday, with the Patriots owner likely being served a warrant for his .
Kraft's legal situation will play itself out in the normal path that occurs in these situations. The Pats owner, through a spokesperson, "categorically den[ied]" that he "engaged in any illegal activity," while law enforcement claimed it has video of Kraft engaging in acts multiple times. There is no black and white answer as to how that will end.
What's more clear is that the NFL can. The league confirmed as much on Monday with a statement about how the Personal Conduct Policy applies to owners.
"Our Personal Conduct Policy applies equally to everyone in the NFL. We will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the Policy," the league said in a statement. "We are seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation. We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts."
The Policy was revamped in recent years with a focus on domestic violence and treatment of women, as well as creating an equality in terms of discipline between players, coaches, owners and any employee of the league, essentially across the board.
"It is a privilege to be part of the National Football League. Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from 'conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in' the NFL," the policy now states. "This includes owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials, and employees of the league office, NFL Films, NFL Network, or any other NFL business."
Another note in the NFL's policy points out that owners and management-level figures are "held to a higher standard" and can face "more significant discipline" when violating the Personal Conduct Policy.
There is one recent example of such an instance, with Colts owner Jim Irsay having been fined and suspended after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor when he was found operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
As a result of that situation,. That is probably a pretty good baseline for any potential Kraft situation.
"I have stated on numerous occasions that owners, management personnel and coaches must be held to a higher standard than players," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to Irsay at the time. "We discussed this during our meeting and you expressed your support for that view, volunteering that owners should be held to the highest standard."
Additionally, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo was suspended a full year and fined $1 million as a result of his involvement in a gambling scandal. DeBartolo had pled guilty to a felony count of "failure to report an alleged extortion attempt" involving a riverboat casino. This was also at a time (1999) when gambling was far less acceptable, particularly in the realm of a professional sports league.
If Kraft is suspended to start the year, he will not be present for the Patriots raising of their sixth title banner under his watch as owner. Having Kraft, an extremely public figure, absent for that ceremony would certainly bring attention to any potential investigation or discipline as the season starts. This might be another good reasonof the Patriots.
Regardless, expect the NFL to be patient with its approach here. The league will let the judicial process play out and then likely hold its own investigation before any discipline is imposed.