Foxborough, MA - Will there ever be an off-season for the New England Patriots where they're not mired by controversy after winning a Super Bowl? Who knows? But the fact of the matter is, apart from the Aaron Hernandez case, Friday's news could be the worst scandal in the history of the New England Patriots franchise.
On Friday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of misdemeanor prostitution solicitation as a result of an extensive investigation into a potential sex trafficking operation running out of the Orchids of Asia massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida.
The news was shocking, but it did not come completely out of the blue as sources had reported a major NFL owner's involvement before the story officially broke, and media figures like Bill Simmons had already raised an eyebrow to Kraft's recent behavior.
Kraft has denied the charges, but it appears that there may be solid evidence against him with the operations of the "massage parlor" caught on camera. If the charges remain limited to prostitution solicitation, then Kraft would likely face minor disciplinary actions and be presented with little to no jail time, especially considering his status (which is a whole different problem).
Now, in terms of the impact this will have on the Patriots organization, it seems unlikely that Kraft would lose the team in any form, so long as the charges do not go beyond solicitation of prostitution. He could face some sort of fine or suspension from the NFL though, as Commissioner Roger Goodell has frequently stated that NFL owners must be held to higher standards than players. There's a small precedent with Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay who faced misdemeanor drug charges and was fined half a million dollars and suspended six games. The Patriots could also lose some combination of draft picks as a result of the investigation.
However, if Kraft ends up being more deeply involved with the sex trafficking aspect, then I think the answer would be clear. He would have to be completely ousted from the Patriots and should face a great deal of jail time. Sex trafficking is a serious crime, and if Kraft took advantage of victims in that way, then it would be sickening to see him continue in society. Obviously, we don't know the whole story yet, but that's how I view the current landscape of what Kraft may face going forward.