BOSTON (CBS) — Florida police announced on Friday that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing two charges for soliciting a prostitute. An arrest warrant was being prepared at the time of the announcement. A spokesperson for Robert Kraft “categorically” denied the charges in a statement made to CNN, shortly after the police announcement.
Regardless of what may come from the news in terms of the legal system, the NFL is certain to monitor the situation closely. The league’s personal conduct policy requires that “everyone who is part of the league must refrain from conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.” The policy also states: “It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.”
Prohibited conduct in the policy includes “assault and/or battery, including sexual assault or other sex offenses.”
It’s far too soon in the process to try to predict what this news might mean for Kraft, the Patriots, and the NFL. But for perspective, here’s a look at what has happened to other owners who found themselves entangled with the law in recent years.
Jim Irsay — Indianapolis Colts
In March of 2014, Jim Irsay was arrested in Indianapolis on suspicion of drunken driving and drug possession. He had $29,000 in cash in his vehicle, stashed in a briefcase and a laundry bag, along with prescription drug bottles. A toxicology report showed that Irsay had oxycodone, hydrocodone, and alprazolam in his system, as he slurred his speech and had trouble standing at the time of his arrest.
Irsay eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for operating a vehicle while under the influence. He was sentenced to a 60-day jail sentence, but he served just two days — both of which came at the time of the arrest.
NFL Punishment: The league suspended Irsay from running the team for six games and fined him $500,000 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did not issue further punishments — i.e. the forfeiture of draft picks — because Irsay’s actions did not have a “competitive consequence.”
Jerry Richardson — Carolina Panthers
In December of 2017, Sports Illustrated released an investigative report into a culture of sexual harassment within the Carolina Panthers organization. Team owner Jerry Richardson had reportedly reached settlements with several employees.
NFL Punishment: After investigating the matter, the league eventually fined Richardson $2.75 million. But Richardson had already begun the process of selling the team. Richardson made the announcement that he’d be selling the team on the same day that Sports Illustrated released its story.
Jimmy Haslam — Cleveland Browns
The owner of the Cleveland Browns since 2012, Haslam is also the co-owner of the company Pilot Flying J. In April 2013, the FBI alleged that Pilot Flying J had engaged in a five-year fraud scheme, based on a bogus rewards program. Seventeen employees pleaded guilty to fraud charges. The company ultimately had to pay a $92 million penalty.
NFL Punishment: No punishment came from the league. “No prosecuting authority has found reason to bring charges against Mr. Haslam” a spokesperson for the league told Jason La Canfora. “So that’s where we leave it.”
Zygi Wilf — Minnesota Vikings
Zygi Wilf became a billionaire as a real estate developer. He — along with partners — purchased the Minnesota Vikings in 2005. In August 2013, Wilf and two relatives were ruled to have committed fraud — in a case that took 21 years to be resolved in the court system. The Wilfs were forced to pay $84.5 million to their defrauded business partners. The judge in the case ruled that “The bad faith and evil motive were demonstrated in the testimony of Zygi Wilf himself.”
The judge also said: “[What was done in this case] was done not with a reckless but a willful disregard of the rights of the partners, Jarwick and Josef Halpern, and it was clearly not negligent. It was not even grossly negligent. It was grossly willful. And it was done repeatedly.”
NFL Punishment: No punishment was issued by the NFL. In May of 2014 — just months after the judge issued the ruling — the Vikings were chosen as the host for Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis in February 2018.