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Could NFL go harder on Robert Kraft to prove a point?

Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (left) greets Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan (right) before the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Less than a week after he was caught up in a prostitution sting in Florida, it’s not yet known what faces New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft outside of the legalities.

Kraft was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution earlier this week. Said charges come with up to one year in prison.

Equally as troubling for the longtime Patriots owner is the fact that the NFL might very well come down hard on him. There’s allegedly video evidence of his visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Said videos will reportedly be released at some point.

Given that the NFL is all about its own perception, this will raise some eyebrows among the league’s brass in New York City.

According to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, the league could take perception into account.

If so, it might include handing down a more severe punishment than what we saw with then-San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo in the late 1990s and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay earlier this decade.

“The general consensus I hear from speaking to people in the league (who are guessing) is that if the accusations against Kraft are proved accurate, the NFL will punish Kraft more severely than it did Irsay or DeBartolo,” Freeman reported.

This is all speculation right now. There’s still no video evidence in public hands proving allegations against Mr. Kraft. Even then, that’s a rather alarming note from Freeman.

Back in 1998, a corruption case involving former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards saw DeBartolo plead guilty to failing to report a felony. He received $1 million fine and two years probation for turning on Edwards. DeBartolo was ultimately fined by the NFL and banned for a calendar year. In 2000, he sold the team to sister, Denise York.

As it relates to Irsay, he received a six month ban and was fined $500,000 back in 2014 after pleading guilty to a DWI charge.

These are two remarkably different situations. Even then, they could provide a blueprint for the NFL. According to Freeman, the issue for Kraft could be his power within NFL circles and the league wanting to make a point out of him.

“They believe the league doesn’t want to be viewed as going easy on arguably the NFL’s most powerful owner. Also, they say, the NFL may have no choice,” Freeman noted.

Previous suggestions were that the NFL would act swiftly in imposing sanctions on Kraft. The longer this draws out, the more likely it is that he’ll receive harsher discipline from the league. It’s just not yet known what type of discipline that might be.