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Roger Goodell: Friendship with Robert Kraft ‘was never strained’

The friendship between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft without question hit several rough patches throughout the course of the protracted Deflategate saga. But it certainly appears that things are beginning to smooth out between the two.

Goodell joined Kraft in Jerusalem on Tuesday for the opening of the Kraft Family Sports Complex and it would appear that the Patriots owner might be letting bygones be bygones.

Robert is very important to me personally …” Goodell told The Jerusalem Post’s Allon Sinai, via NFL.com. “My friendship with Robert was never strained. We both understand that we have jobs …

I know how important this is for him. My respect and admiration for him has never waned. We believe our best days are ahead.”

Enjoying a fantastic 2016 season that culminated in a Super Bowl LI victory — despite Goodell levying a four-game suspension upon Tom Brady at the onset of the season (the Patriots were also fined $1 million and stripped of two draft picks in the wake of the Deflategate saga) — arguably helps Kraft put some of the animosity between the Patriots and the commissioner in the past.

Kraft also has expressed concern in the past over the possibility that things might not “ever be the same” between himself and Goodell. And the Patriots owner did mention Deflategte when accepting the Lombardi Trophy following the team’s fifth championship of the Brady-Belichick era.

Kraft, saying “a lot has transpired during the last two years” that he didn’t believe “needs any explanation,” said the Super Bowl LI triumph was  “unequivocally the sweetest” of them all.

Perhaps Kraft nevertheless still harbors some hostility toward Goodell for what transpired over the course of two-plus years as the Deflategate saga crawled to a conclusion.

But at least for one day, the two former embittered enemies — at least from Kraft’s perspective — set their issues aside with the hope, as Goodell put it, for the “best days” that lie ahead.