Robert Kraft: ‘I believe in this team, big time’
|01.23.12 at 8:22 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Several times on Sunday evening – as he was handing the AFC championship trophy off to different players – Patriots owner Robert Kraft touched his fingers to the left side of his chest, then to his lips and then pointed to the sky.
These 2011 Patriots are the perfect embodiment of the spirit of Myra Kraft, and that is what touches Robert Kraft’s heart the most. He made that much very clear on Monday in giving thanks to his head coach Bill Belichick and the players who have made possible his sixth trip to the Super Bowl as team owner.
“I believe in this team, big time. We have a coach who has gone through the learning curve pretty well,” Kraft said Monday. “It’s funny, I was just chatting with Rodney Harrison who was here doing some work with NBC. I was telling him how I had the privilege of having Drew Bledsoe stay at my house the night before the game. He flew in and was one of the honorary captains and then I realized he never played with Drew Bledsoe; Rodney really came in afterwards.
“What that made me realize and I bring it to Coach Belichick and the system we have here that we hopefully have a system and discipline and the best coach in place that will keep people focused. Fortunately, we’ve had the experience of going to this game before. We have certain disciplines we follow and we’ll follow those now. We hope we have the privilege of bringing our fourth championship back to the New England community.”
Kraft has watched as Belichick turned his roster over nearly completely since their last trip four years ago against the Giants. There are just seven Patriots on the active roster that were on that team that lost in Glendale, AZ to the Giants. The seven are Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Kevin Faulk, Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Stephen Gostkowski and Vince Wilfork. Center Dan Koppen also played in the game but is on injured reserve. The Giants have 15 players remaining from Super Bowl XLII.
“I think both teams are blessed to have good coaches and good personnel people. I know the Giants have good ownership,” Kraft said of John Mara and Steve Tisch.
After watching his team survive the Ravens in the closing seconds, Kraft watched the Giants beat the 49ers in overtime to force a rematch of that game four years ago.
“But it was something and they both went right to the end,” Kraft said of the AFC and NFC championship games. “Somehow I feel we’re going to have a Super Bowl that’s going to be in the same category. But how lucky are we to be going to Indianapolis? I hope these 20 people who celebrate the good acts of this region will enjoy the game and hopefully we bring this victory back.
Kraft was asked if he has vivid memories of Super Bowl XLII.
“I’ve never been able to watch it,” Kraft said. “[Sunday] night, you saw a kick being missed at the end of the game. But that kick would have tied the game and then put it into overtime, which is amazing. I do remember the end of the game, a ball going through our cornerback’s hands that if he had caught that ball and it hadn’t gone through his hands, we would have been able to take a knee and we would have won the game. And, you know, that [Eli Manning] doing a great job escaping from that pile of guys that we had on him, and whether the whistle blows and the great catch and all these things. In the end, there are a lot of little things. That was a great game, that was a great team and we’re looking forward to having the privilege of going to Indianapolis.”