Myra Kraft leaves indelible imprint on Patriots franchise
|07.20.11 at 11:24 am ET|
It is difficult to measure the impact of Myra Kraft on the New England Patriots franchise. The wife of the longtime owner was one of the most powerful women in the NFL in recent years — she had a strong voice when it came to guiding the fortunes of the team, helping serve as an unofficial adviser. Make no mistake, it was not Robert Kraft who owned the Patriots. Instead, it was a partnership.
“Words cannot express the deep sorrow that we feel in learning of the passing of Myra Hiatt Kraft,” the team said in a statement Wednesday. “Myra passed away early this morning after a courageous battle with cancer. We are all heartbroken. The global philanthropic community and the New England Patriots family have suffered a great loss.”
Her impact was seen immediately following the announcement on Twitter, where several current and former Patriots expressed their sadness. They painted Kraft as a woman who helped her husband guide the fortunes of the franchise, spark an unprecedented community outreach program and provide a warm touch for the families of new players when it came to getting acclimated to the New England area.
“She wasn’t someone we saw like Robert or Jonathan and the rest of the family, but her impact was felt in many other ways,” veteran offensive lineman Matt Light told the NFL Network. “And just the things she did, in that community, and what that did for guys on the team, I mean, it really drove me to do a lot to give back and find my little niche to be apart of that community. I’ll tell you, she’s an incredible person. She really was.”
“I’m truly heartbroken today,” wrote former Pats safety Lawyer Milloy. “Myra Kraft has passed away. With my [b]risk departure from Boston, she is the one person that I regret not saying goodbye to. As a young player/man she was a [great] example of how a woman stands beside, not behind, a man of power! I never got a chance to say thanks [for] that lasting impression. R.I.P. You will be missed.”
“We have lost [one] of the greatest women I know [and] hands down the finest in all of sports [with] the passing of Mrs. Myra Kraft,” wrote former New England fullback Heath Evans, who recalled his wife’s first meeting with Kraft. “I’ll never forget the first day Beth met Myra. She came home [with] so much joy on her face [because] of how special Myra made her feel,” Evans added.
Later in an interview with WEEI, Evans called her “special.”
“Very few owners in this business and this league that truly care about their guys both on and off the field. They are an organization that practices that, they preach it, but they back it up with action and words,” he said. “Myra always made Beth Ann feel so special, and as a husband there is nothing more rewarding than your wife coming come and bragging about the owner’s wife making her feel special and appreciated, always just embracing their ideas for different things in the community and how she embraced the Heath Evans foundation and how special she made Beth Ann feel for stepping up and allowing her story to get all over the country. Myra was instrumental in praising Beth Ann for that.”
“Great family, great ownership that really cares about EVERY player!” added former wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth. “My condolences to the Krafts.”
Myra established the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation in 1994, when the Krafts purchased the team. And her influence was never more apparent than in 1996 when she served as the moral compass for the franchise, pushing for the release of draft pick Christian Peter, a fifth-round selection who was who was convicted of four charges in college, ranging from public urination to third-degree sexual assault, in separate incidents while at Nebraska.
Over the last year, the Patriots owner shuttled back and forth between the NFL labor talks and the hospital where his wife was being treated.
“We mourn her loss and the entire player family is with heavy hearts today,” NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith told reporters.
In a sad and ironic twist, current players are prohibited from contacting Robert Kraft to express their condolences because of the work stoppage.
“Myra was a wonderful woman who my wife and I loved dearly,” wrote defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who expressed frustration that he was not able to reach out to Robert Kraft. “F’n lockout I don’t even know how to get in touch with Mr. Kraft to offer my support and condolences … a wonderful life lost that I probably [woulda] had the chance to see again if it wasn’t for f’n $$$ problems!! Luv ya Myra ‘momma.’”
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