Robert Kraft takes subtle shot at Deflategate after Super Bowl win

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are far too classy and media savvy to have overshadowed the greatest Super Bowl ever played by taking some petty shots at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the Deflategate controversy that entangled the New England Patriots for almost two years and kept Brady off the field for the first four games of 2016. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t make a subtle allusion to the story that set off a national firestorm, enraged a fanbase and helped a team come together with a unifying goal that had even more meaning than the Lombardi Trophy that every team sets out to win.

The much-anticipated awkward moment was anything but. There were the usual boos that accompany any commissioner (think David Stern at the NBA Draft or Gary Bettman whenever he awarded the Stanley Cup) but nothing out of the ordinary. However, when Kraft took the trophy and began talking with Terry Bradshaw, he did take a little dig (emphasis added):

“Two years ago we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona and I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all. But a lot has transpired during the last two years, and I don’t think that needs any explanation. But I want to say to our fans, our brilliant coaching staff our amazing players who were so spectacular: This is unequivocally the sweetest.

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Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Goodell sought out Brady after the game and the two engaged in what appeared to be a cordial handshake, with Brady seeming to bring the commissioner back for a longer conversation than the perfunctory words that were initially exchanged.

But, on the field at least, there was no overt criticism of the commissioner, the incident or anything else. Maybe the emotions of the victory parade later this week will bring out a comment or two. For Sunday at least, in the aftermath of the great Super Bowl LI, the victory did all the talking.