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Kraft and Benson: Ringing in at dinner time

08.11.10 at 2:53 pm ET

FOXBORO — There was plenty of jewelry to be shown off on Tuesday night when Patriots owner Robert Kraft sat down with Saints owner Tom Benson.

Kraft’s Pats won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX while Benson’s Saints are the defending NFL champs having conquered the league in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.

“You can be very proud of what you’ve done down there in New Orleans,” Kraft told Benson.

Then Kraft shared a little bit more of his dinner talk with Benson.

“I was trying to pick his brain to learn how to sell automobiles and run banks and build a Super Bowl team in this decade,” Kraft said. “So it was very good. He said he hoped we could both play each other again this year, and there’s only one way that can happen, and that would be in your neighboring state of Texas. I hope he’s prescient.”

Super Bowl XLV will be at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX on Feb. 6, 2011.

As for the here and now, Kraft said Wednesday he is liking a lot of what he is seeing in camp so far this summer.

“This is great. Seeing the crowd here,” Kraft raved. “I know it was great for our guys to go up against another great team here. It tested our offense, defense and special teams to go against the Super Bowl champs. We got a lot more out of this practice than we would have if we had not done something like this, and I hope it’s something we continue over the next few years.”

After two days of practices against each other and scrimmages, the Patriots and Saints kick-off the preseason on Thursday night at Gillette with the game scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, On the eve of his induction to the Patriots Hall of Fame, Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham was again recognized for his work beyond the gridiron on Wednesday. Kraft recalled a dinner at his Brookline home in 2009 when John Hannah paid tribute to Cunningham as a man who opened up football to African Americans in the deep south of Alabama.

“What will always stick out to me about him was what he did for integration in the South,” Kraft said. “At our 50th anniversary ceremony, it was very poignant and he hadn’t been back here since he left and we had a party in our backyard and John Hannah and he are there and John Hannah said, ‘Sam Cunningham did more for integration than Dr. Martin Luther King in that area’ because when Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant brought him into the locker room after they had been beaten by USC and said, ‘This is what a real football player is.’ That made it appropriate for all people of color in that neighborhood to start playing football.”’s Christopher Price has more on what Cunningham can offer Laurence Maroney besides just his Patriots No. 39.

Hannah was an All-American at Alabama under Bear Bryant while Sam Cunningham ran for USC in the years immediately following O.J. Simpson. Cunningham was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame on June 14 and will be inducted as part of ceremonies prior to Thursday’s game with the New Orleans Saints.

Read More: Cowboys Stadium, nfl, Patriots, Robert Kraft



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