|Robert Kraft and his ‘pretty cool’ Patriots||06.12.09 at 2:05 pm ET|
FOXBOROUGH – Maybe it was the fact that he had just celebrated his 50th high school graduation from Brookline (Mass.) High last Saturday at Gillette Stadium or maybe it was just because he is feeling very young at heart but listening this week to Patriots owner Robert Kraft talk about his New England Patriots and what’s he’s built in Foxborough, you sense you’re listening to a very enthusiastic and genuinely young man.
“We’re also very excited about kicking off our 50th season,” said Kraft, who visited a General Electric plant in Lynn, Mass. this week, spreading the word about the Patriots in the community. “There was a young lady who was an original cheerleader on the Patriots in the early 60s. To think we’re starting our 50th season here, opening up on a Monday night, where Monday Night Football is celebrating its 40th season, it’s pretty cool. New England is about tradition and history and we hope we give you all a great season this year.”
When the Patriots open their golden anniversary season against Buffalo at Gillette Stadium on Monday, Sept. 14, Kraft, like everyone else in New England and the football world will be looking out to see No. 12, Tom Brady, back behind center for the Pats.
“He’s moving so beautifully and throwing beautifully,” Kraft said, before acknowledging another player he respects. Another player who just so happens to be looking for a new contract to remain in New England.
“And Vince Wilfork is a great guy. Every year we have these business issues that have to get worked out. And one way or another, they’ll get worked out and hopefully Vince will be here for the long term.
“It’s hard, it’s hard on both sides because, look, we’re blessed to have a lot of good players on this team,” he continued. “Unfortunately, the nature of the business, if you want to win every year or put yourself in the position to be able to try to win every year, you need to make decisions and prioritize. There’s a limited amount of money we can spend so we’re always trying to balance that and keep a team together and put ourselves in the best position to win.”
Listen to Kraft and there’s no mistaking what comes first. Family as team and team as family. He attended the Patriots Foundation charity golf event last Monday in Bolton, Mass. It was there he was reminded of the competitiveness of Tom Brady.
Tedy Bruschi won the long drive competition but later, Kraft said, it was confirmed that Brady was following the ‘rules’ by using practice range balls while Bruschi was not.
“Team has always been first here,” Kraft said. “Tom Brady is a great leader. He doesn’t like to lose. He kept reminding me of that the whole round.”
While there will be no fine for that minor indiscretion on the course, when it comes to the seriousness of contract negotiating, Kraft leaves everything in the hands of his football ops. Like when dealing with the Wilfork talks.
“I leave the heavy lifting to our football people,” Kraft said. “Vince and I have a great relationship.”
Kraft takes great pride in the fact that players like Wilfork make their statement by holding out of a voluntary organized team activity but showing up at a mandatory minicamp, as was the case on Wednesday with Wilfork.
“It’s a credit to our coaching staff, our personnel people and the kind of players that come into the system,” Kraft said. “They are respectful. It’s complicated stuff, though. In the end, we’re always trying to put ourselves in the best position to win football games. Whether it’s the field or any decision we make, winning is always what comes first.
“Vince is a very special guy. While touring the G.E. plant in Lynn the question that kept coming up was, ‘We’re not going to let Vince get out of here now, are we?’ He’s got a lot of fans in this region and we all realize how special he is,” Kraft said.
Off the field, or more to the point, just to the north of it, stands The Hall at Patriots Place. It, along with Gillette Stadium, is perhaps the jewel of what Kraft and his family have built in Foxborough.
“We have not had visitors from South Dakota,” Kraft said. “That’s the only state. They’re looking to get some kind of incentive prize for the first South Dakotan who shows a license there. And I think it’s about 13 foreign countries. I was touring there and there were people there from Knoxville, Tennessee, who are pretty big Patriots fans. It was pretty cool.
“Two teams are trying to copy what we’ve done here, to try and get the history,” he added. “I love the Green Bay Hall of Fame, and we’re trying to find a way of making it even more special than that.”
So when Brookline High needed a place for its Class of 1959 reunion, Kraft had just the place in mind.
“You can spend a lot of time there,” Kraft said. “I had my high school reunion down here for lunch on Saturday. People came from all over the country and most of them stayed for five hours. so we’re pretty proud of The Hall at Patriot Place.
“We’re pretty proud of what we have here in all of Patriot Place,” he added. “It’s just getting the word out and letting them know what we have here.”
2013 PATRIOTS DRAFT PICKS
2013 NFL DRAFT
- Patriots Claim OT Kevin Haslam; Waive R.J. Mattes
- Patriots Spend League High $140K In Guaranteed Money For UDFAs
- New England Patriots Links 5/22/13 - Talib: OTAs About 'Getting Down the...
- The Potential Importance Of Jake Ballard
- Four Missing From Second Day Of Patriots OTAs
- The Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2012: Number 8
- New England Patriots Links 5/21/13 - Watching for Early Signs of...