Sunday Notes: The truth will set Kraft free and end the Orchids Day Spa drama

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I stop by my mom’s condo four or five times a week. A former fourth-grade teacher, Jane A. is a Boston College graduate and devout Catholic.

She’s 80 now. Her thoughts don’t move clickety-clack down the track like they used to, especially since a bad car accident a couple of years ago. But she’s still a hawk.

Her husband, John (my Dad died in 1996 and my mom remarried in 2003), works tirelessly to make sure Jane’s squared away in every way. He’s deaf as a tree root, which leads to myriad moments of agitation when he doesn’t quite catch what Jane’s trying to say (which is putting it lightly … he hears not a lot at all).

Jane runs the show. And when I stop by, usually with my beagle Bo in tow, those two are in their power recliners, watching Gunsmoke. I sit across from them on a loveseat, Jane lobs questions at me while feeding Bo treats. We re-establish that Jerod Mayo is a nice guy and so are the McCourtys and that Mike Giardi is handsome.

It usually isn’t long before we adjourn and I make for the door. A nice, simple visit.

Except … EXCEPT!

Twice – TWICE – in the past few weeks, I’ll be collecting Bo and looking for my keys when John pipes up with, “So whaddya make of this Kraft stuff…?”

(Deep breath, exhale…)

“I don’t know, man,” I’ll answer. “Tough deal.”

“What does he make of the WHAT?!” Jane interjects.

“The Kraft stuff! Down in Florida!”

I get that tightening in the chest. Not like a heart attack. More like words collecting in a clogged drain. Just a tiny pinhole in that clog and here come the words, bursting out. I’ll let them all go. I’ll tell them what I really “make of the Kraft stuff.” That it’s stupidity all the way around.  

But I don’t get to.

“Who CARES!?!” snorts my 80-year-old mother, the aforementioned devout Catholic who, in February of 1979 and ‘80, made my brother and I watch as she fed offending Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues into the wood stove. “He doesn’t want to talk about that! Why would he want to talk about that?! Who cares?!”

“I don’t know,” John says, cocking his head. “Seems like he really stepped in it. Looks bad for him. What’s Goodell gonna do?”

“Yeah, I don’t know. Pretty complicated … c’mon Bo.”

“Who cares?!” my mom says one more time. “Leave the guy alone.”

I think she’s talking about Kraft. She might be talking about me. Either way, WHY AM I TALKING ABOUT THIS AT ALL WITH MY 80-YEAR-OLD MOTHER AND 84-YEAR-OLD STEPFATHER?! (Stepfather seems an odd title, since he showed up when I was 35, but whatever…)

I need to delve into charges that a 77-year-old multi-billionaire was sexually pleasured in exchange for money at a spa in Florida – TWICE IN 12 HOURS – with Jane and John? Or at least find a way to wriggle out of having to explain what I know about what went on at the Orchids Day Spa and what it all means to me, given that I cover the team and all?

Why are we still talking about this?

If my 80-year-old mother, veteran of myriad cursillos, retreats and Sunday school classes, a woman who’s probably spent a solid year or two of her life on her knees in church … if she doesn’t care? Then, Bob Kraft, what are you trying to prove anymore? And to whom? Why are we still having life breathed into a story that could have the plug pulled on it today?

The damage has long since been done. And if Kraft gets off (so to speak) on some technicality in which courts rule the cops shouldn’t have bugged the massage parlor or stopped his friend’s car, the world isn’t going to line up to clap Robert on the back and say, “You won!”

The damage has been done. It’s not nearly as severe as Kraft imagines. The punishment isn’t going to be nearly as penal as the protracted fight that only the lawyers love.

Fold your tent, Robert, and go Bezos.

Because what Kraft and his attorneys are afraid of having released by police is precisely the same thing Amazon’s Jeff Bezos had held over his head by the National Enquirer. Compromising images.

Bezos short-circuited the National Enquirer’s saber-rattling that it would release embarrassing images if he didn’t acquiesce to their demands by laying his cards on the table and saying, “Here’s what’s going on everyone.” You can read all about it here if you haven’t already. 

Bezos didn’t release the images. Nor has the Enquirer. Kraft doesn’t have the video in his possession. But he does have something. His version of what circumstances led to these two events coming to pass. And he can dull the quest to find and share the video by saying, “This is what you will see.”

Anybody who’s spent a minute or two considering the story has already pictured in their mind’s eye what went down. Any video released will just confirm what he states occurred.

Kraft explaining what’s on the video, laying bare the whole scenario will serve to make the eventual release of the video anticlimactic. Be an open book. Spare the family, spare the region, stop the drip, drip, drip of daily coverage with a tourniquet of truth.

Then fight on in the legal system as long as the money holds out (which will be a good long time) but do so without playing the victim or having others try to paint you as such. And ask your friends not to do the same because it doesn’t help.

This is a no-win situation. It’s now to a point where Kraft needs to cut his losses and try to be above it. Try to make “something good come out of it” as Kraft told me he hoped would happen when I spoke with him briefly at the owners meetings in Arizona.

Nothing good is going to come out of it while Kraft’s legal team is still throwing haymakers and Florida authorities are returning fire.

Kraft says he did nothing “illegal.” Explain that. And then leave it to the prosecutors to decide whether their case – now toothless because Kraft took the bite away from the sensational aspects of it – needs to go on and on.

It won’t happen this way, of course. There will be no tent-folding, no capitulation. The drip, drip, drip will continue and the day-to-day anticipation of what the next break in the case will go on and every day thousands of, “Whaddya make of the Kraft stuff…” questions will be posed. World without end, amen. 

*****

Nearly a month into free agency, free agent wide receiver Chris Hogan remains unattached. More than that, he remains unremarked upon as well. Save for a report prior to free agency that there was a bunch of interest in him and that the Patriots and Giants were among suitors, it’s been nothing but crickets. Hogan, who turns 31 in October, was with the Patriots for three seasons. His best year was 2016 when he led the NFL in yards per catch (17.9) and had 36 receptions. In the 2016 and 2017 playoffs, he was a standout with 26 catches for 484 yards and four touchdowns in six games. But 2018 was a puzzlingly bad year for Hogan who was targeted two or fewer times in seven games and seemingly fell completely out of Tom Brady’s favor. A return can’t be ruled out completely, especially if the Patriots aren’t able to shore up their wideout corps. But if Hogan was hoping for a change of scenery, it hasn’t yet materialized.

*****

It’s a shame the Alliance of American Football went belly-up this week. But blaming the NFLPA for the league’s demise because it wouldn’t “share” bottom-of-the-roster NFL players with the AAF makes no sense. That’s what the league’s majority owner Tom Dundon did in the days leading up to the shuttering. 

"If the players union is not going to give us young players, we can't be a development league," Dundon told USA Today.

Maybe I’m overly cautious but, if I were starting a venture hoping employees contracted to another business were going to be loaned to me, I’d feel uneasy until I got that promise in writing. Which is probably why I don’t own a professional sports franchise, like Dundon does with the Carolina Hurricanes.

*****

The Patriots are annually among the busiest teams when it comes to draft trades. And with 12 picks this year – six in the first three rounds – they’ve got artillery to move around. How high can they get in the first round if they see a player worth targeting? We used the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart to take a stab at it.

The Patriots first three picks have a combined value of 1,200 points (the 32nd pick is worth 590, 56 is worth 340 and 64 is worth 270).

The 12th overall pick (held by Green Bay) is worth 1,200. The 13th is worth 1150 (the Dolphins hold that). If the Patriots wanted to combine their two second-rounders to move up in the first, the 610 points those two picks are worth would only get them up to about 30 (620 points).

A couple of years ago, Rich Hill – who does great work at Pats Pulpit – came up with a revised draft value trade chart. Evaluating all draft pick trades since the 2012 draft, Hill developed a different point system that has held up when analyzed.

So how high can the Patriots get with their first three picks if they want to package them together? They can get as high as No. 10, according to Hill’s chart.

The upshot? Not only is the cost to get close to the top 10 exorbitant, the Patriots loathe having big gaps between picks. If they traded up to No. 10, for instance, they wouldn’t be on the clock again until the 73rd pick. That’s a lot of players going off the board with the Patriots just watching. Not likely.

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