|Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell on Dale & Holley||06.08.09 at 12:12 pm ET|
Patriots owner Robert Kraft joined the Dale & Holley Show from the Patriots Foundation Charitable Golf Tournament. Now in his 16th year as the owner of the football team, Kraft admitted that the team business model continues to evolve, and that it remains challenging to evolve with it.
“It’s a real head trip to own an NFL team in your hometown,” said Kraft. “I think we’ve evolved this like how we run our other businesses.”
Kraft visited a number of subjects, including the contract negotiations with Vince Wilfork, the economic situation of the NFL and the Patriots in light of the national downturn, and the team’s philosophy about player acquisition. Kraft was later joined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the Dale & Holley Show.
Here are some highlights from both Kraft and Goodell’s comments, as compiled by Greg Cameron.
On ex-Pats coach Bill Parcells: “Parcells would say that he would coach year-to-year. We learned that we’d rather find people and player not with fancy names, but who are committed to playing with us.”
On adversity following the Super Bowl loss: “You learn from both adversity and success. The Super Bowl was a devastating loss, we were on the verge of history. The bar’s been set a little high by our fans. But our product is doing well, we have had season ticket renewals in the high 90’s. It’s very important that we are a once-a-week thing. We hope to be a way for our fans to escape the economic downturn.”
On the team’s recent personnel changeover: “It’s the sick part of the business. The NFL is set up to bring things to parity. To be good year in, and year out and then dismember it, is hard to do. They’re taking a bit of our product elsewhere, it’s hard to take. Hopefully we’ll be a little bit better than all of them this year.”
On the recently brokered NFL TV deal: “We had great leadership from commissioner Goodell. The leadership he’s brought in is off the charts. In the end, our product is the only one that can attract a mass audience each week: 115-120 million people watch NFL football each week. We are the only league where every game is on free television in every market.”
On the construction of Patriot Place, despite the economy: “In life, you make decisions with the best information you have at the time. I hosted my 50th reunion from Brookline High School at the Hall [at Patriot Place], and people had no idea what we have down there.”
On “luck” the Patriots have had, especially with Brady: “I think a lot about that. He was the 199thpick in the draft and 12 quarterbacks were taken before him. Despite all of the ‘gurus’ around, it’s not an exact science. You want to avoid falling in love with players in the salary cap era. Brady’s brilliance is in processing things quickly.”
On the Vince Wilfork situation: “I’ve gone through a learning curve with falling in love with players, because they’re all good guys. We want guys who are committed to playing with us and winning with us. Winning is all that matters.”
On how long Bill Belichick will be with the team: I don’t see anything in the way of what we are planning to do with our franchise.”
On signing players with questionable character: “It’s a very big part of it. I told both Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick that the only important thing is that we don’t have thugs and hoodlums on this team. If we need them to win, then I’m out of this business. We want to win but not so badly that we’re willing to compromise our values.”
On the London game: “We are very excited. We read somewhere that we are the No. 1 team in the UK in terms of popularity. For us we’re taking an away game to London with a homefield advantage. There’s even a big Patriots fan club over there and we are looking to hold a big rally in Trafalgar Square sometime that week.”
On increasing number of regular season games: “I don’t think it’s inevitable. We want high quality. Our fans have shown us that the preseason is not up to standard and that we no longer need four preseason games to get ready. It’s not a sure thing, but something we are giving thought to.”
On the rumor of the Super Bowl would be in London: “When we recently named New Orleans the site for 2012, London was not a part of the consideration.”
On the television deal: “This wouldn’t have happened without Robert. His knowledge had us motivated to get it done.”
Vision for TV deal: “We are the only league to be successful on free TV. It says something about the quality of our product.”
On the Personal Conduct Policy and Michael Vick: “No meeting has been set up, but I will meet with him when everything is squared away and before I make a decision. It’s not just how you play the game, it’s how you conduct yourself on and off the field. In a league with 2,000 young men, you’re going to have some mistakes.”
On the Collective Bargaining Agreement: “We want to continue to grow the game. We need a system to ensure that. Things will work itself out, and it’s all about the common goal.”
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