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Robert Kraft predicts Pats will have a fun season, despite lingering woes

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In an offseason when he would prefer to be celebrating a Super Bowl championship, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has also been occupied with the NFL's investigation into the team's underinflated footballs and most recently the release of linebacker Brandon Spikes, who is subject to a police investigation regarding an abandoned car registered to him.

Those issues are lingering over the franchise, as evidenced by Tuesday when Kraft awarded $200,000 in grants to local volunteers yet was asked mostly about negative publicity surrounding the club.

"When you're privileged to have great things happen, more responsibility comes, and more stress," Kraft said after the Myra Kraft "Community MVP" event at Gillette Stadium.

"You just have to deal with it and hopefully good things happen. This will be the beginning of our 22nd season and I think back to the 34 years we didn't own the team and what transpired here during that period; in balance, I'm pretty pleased with the team we have and the organization we have.

"We have a lot of good people. I believe we have a very solid, good team. We're going to have a lot of fun this year."

Kraft hopes that part of the fun includes quarterback Tom Brady playing in the NFL's season-opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10.

Asked about the "shakiness" of commissioner Roger Goodell hearing Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension, on June 23, Kraft said: "We're part of a system and we'll follow the rules. It is our hope that opening game here that we'll have the privilege of having everyone who deserves to be on the field starting that game. I know that is what our fans want and that's what we want."

Kraft added, "Our focus is trying to do whatever we can with our team to hopefully wind up where we qualify to make the playoffs and then whatever happens, happens."