New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft could face more than just legal trouble after being charged with soliciting a prostitute in Florida.
Though Kraft is one of the most influential owners in the league, reports indicate that he could face significant discipline from the NFL, including large fines and a potentially long suspension. As ESPN reported, Kraft is subject to the league's personal conduct policy, which gives Commissioner Roger Goodell wide latitude to mete out whatever discipline he sees fit for players, coaches, and owners who commit legal infractions. The report noted that owners and management are held to a higher standard and "subject to more significant discipline when violations... occur."
While there is no indication yet what level of punishment Robert Kraft could face from the NFL, the report noted that other owners who have gotten into trouble with the law faced harsh consequences. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was slapped with a six-game suspension and fined $500,000 in 2014 after he was arrested on drug charges and pleading guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Detroit Lions team president Tom Lewand was also suspended 30 days and fined $100,000 after pleading guilty to a charge of driving while impaired, the report noted.
Robert Kraft has insisted he is innocent of the charges, but that might not matter. The NFL has still punished players who were accused of domestic violence even if the charges were dropped, and it is written directly into the rule that the league can punish members regardless of what happens in the court system.
As the New York Post noted, the league has a long history of doling out harsh discipline when owners step out of line.
"Other NFL owners have faced punishments previously, including Eddie DeBartolo, who was suspended for the 1999 season and fined $1 million following his guilty plea in a gambling scandal in Louisiana," the report noted. "In 2009, Bud Adams, who owned the Titans, was fined $250,000 for making an obscene gesture at Bills fans."
While the charges facing Robert Kraft may not be as high as felony DUI or other infractions committed by NFL owners, the details of his case could hurt his cause. Florida police said they uncovered a vast prostitution ring where women were forced into near-slavery, made to work every day with little access to the outside world.The NFL said on Friday that it is aware of the charges facing Robert Kraft and will be monitoring the situation.