|Tom Brady, Robert Kraft officially become part of UFC||09.30.16 at 9:33 am ET|
Tom Brady and Robert Kraft are expanding their horizons.
The Patriots quarterback and team owner have become minority partners in UFC.
“Expanding our ownership group to include this caliber of talent and entrepreneurs is a strong indicator of UFC’s fast-growing global presence,” UFC President Dana White said. “Our new investors bring an incredible depth of knowledge and experience to help us continue to elevate this brand and capitalize on its entertainment and sports crossover appeal.”
Brady becomes part of a star-studded group that is buying in on one of the biggest and fastest-growing brands in sports worldwide.
Also included in the partnership are Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, Adam Levine, Anthony Kiedis, Ben Affleck, Calvin Harris, Cam Newton, Conan O’Brien, Flea, Guy Fieri, Jimmy Kimmel, Li Na, LL COOL J, Maria Sharapova, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay, Rob Dyrdek, the Williams sisters (Serena and Venus), Sylvester Stallone, Trey Parker and Tyler Perry.
In July, global entertainment and sports leader WME/IMG – joined by Silver Lake Partners, KKR, MSD Capital, L.P. and MSD Partners, L.P. – announced it would acquire UFC, the world’s premier professional mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.
The organization, founded in 1993, produces more than 40 live events annually and is the largest pay-per-view event provider in the world, broadcast in over 156 countries and territories to more than 1.1 billion television households in 29 languages.
UFC continues to capitalize on digital platforms via its wholly owned subscription over-the-top service, UFC FIGHT PASS, which delivers exclusive live events, thousands of fights on-demand and original content to fans around the globe.
|Rob Gronkowski wins Ron Burton Community Service Award||08.30.16 at 8:33 pm ET|
Tight end Rob Gronkowski was named this year’s winner of the Ron Burton Community Service Award on Tuesday night in a ceremony at Gillette Stadium.
Gronkowski is the 14th player to win the award, which is named in honor of the late Ron Burton, the first player drafted by the team and a community leader whose widespread charitable work was a model for how a Patriots player can make an impact off the field.
“Rob is just as fun to watch at a community event as he is on the game field,” said Kraft. “Giving back to the community is a big part of being ‘Gronk.’ He is engaging with fans of all ages. His gregarious personality makes him one of our greatest ambassadors, especially when spreading cheer to children at local hospitals or schools. We love the devotion and enthusiasm that he shows in the community and are proud to present him with this year’s Ron Burton Community Service Award.”
The three-time All-Pro joins a select group of Patriots players to receive the honor. Past recipients include Nate Solder (2015), Devin McCourty (2014), Matthew Slater (2013), Zoltan Mesko (2012), Jerod Mayo (2011), Vince Wilfork (2010) and Kevin Faulk (2009).
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Robert Kraft issues statement on passing of former Patriots offensive lineman Bill Lenkaitis||08.28.16 at 2:39 pm ET|
The Patriots have issued a statement from owner Robert Kraft on passing of former New England offensive lineman Bill Lenkaitis, who played for the team from 1971-1981.
“Bill centered one of the greatest offensive lines, not just in franchise history, but in NFL history. In 1976, he helped propel the Patriots to an 11-3 record and our first NFL playoff berth. Two years later, the offensive line powered the Patriots to our first NFL division title, while setting the NFL rushing record. As a season ticket holder during his playing days, I was a fan of the player he was on the field. But, in my 22 years of ownership, I became an even bigger fan of the person he was off the field. He was a big man with an even bigger personality and a huge heart. As a Patriots alumnus, he remained active in our communities and regularly volunteered to support out Foundation’s many initiatives. He was a great Patriots ambassador and he will be missed. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and former teammates.”
|On 15th anniversary of their Super Bowl season, Patriots set to pay tribute to 2001 title team||07.26.16 at 5:19 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Tuesday they will be holding a series of events over the course of the 2016 season to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 2001 Super Bowl team.
The weekly features will run throughout the season and culminate on Dec. 4 with a special reunion of the 2001 team during a halftime ceremony of the Patriots game against the Rams at Gillette Stadium.
“The Super Bowl XXXVI win over the Rams was the first championship for our team and will always hold a very special place in our hearts,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft in a statement issued by the team. “The victory made everyone that ever wore a Patriots uniform or rooted for the Patriots on the bleachers at Foxboro Stadium feel proud to be a fan. I know I am looking forward to reliving some of those great memories throughout the 2016 season.”
The series of tributes will include video segments accessible via the Patriots Twitter feed and Facebook page, and will feature key stories from the 2001 season, including the Tom Brady/Drew Bledsoe quarterback debate, the infamous Snow Bowl playoff game against the Raiders and the events surrounding Super Bowl XXXVI. In addition, there will be “Where Are They Now?” segments on “Patriots All-Access” that will highlight members of that year’s team, as well as a special exhibit at the Patriots Hall of Fame.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Remember when Vladimir Putin may have swiped Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl XXXIX ring 11 years ago this week?||06.29.16 at 9:38 am ET|
As a franchise, the Patriots have had more than their share of surreal moments, but one of the strangest took place 11 years ago Tuesday.
In June 2005, Robert Kraft was part of a group of businessmen who were meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kraft apparently carried his Super Bowl XXXIX ring to the meeting, a 124-diamond piece that the Patriots commissioned in the wake of their win over the Eagles a few months before. Putin was admiring the jewelry, and one of the Kraft’s friends said, “Why don’t you show the president your ring?”
Putin was apparently very impressed, saying at one point, “I could kill someone with this.” He put it on his finger, and then, apparently pocketed it on the way out the door. It was unclear if Putin thought the ring was a gift or if he swiped it, but Kraft later issued a statement when the news of the incident leaked.
“Upon seeing the ring, President Putin, a great and knowledgeable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness. At that point, I decided to give him the ring. I have ancestors from Russia, so it added significance for me to know that something so cherished would reside at the Kremlin along with other special gifts given to Russian presidents. It was truly an act of serendipity and one that I am honored to have experienced. It touched me to see President Putin’s reaction to the ring, and I felt, emotionally, that it was the right way to conclude an exceptional meeting.”
The story has taken on new legs the last few years. After Kraft re-told the story in 2013 saying the Putin may have made off with the ring without his permission, Putin disputed the account.
“What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN, who added that the ring is at the Kremlin’s library. “I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift.”
Perhaps not wanting to make an enemy of the Russian strongman, Kraft reiterated the fact that it was, indeed, a gift. He invited Putin to a Patriots’ game to present Kraft with a ring Putin was apparently making for him.
Regardless, we’re going to presume that Kraft had another ring made, but it’s interesting to think about the possibility of a Super Bowl XXXIX ring floating around the Kremlin somewhere thanks to a “misunderstanding” between the Patriots owner and the Russian leader.
|Robert Kraft part of group that reportedly purchases UFC for roughly $4 billion||06.22.16 at 8:37 am ET|
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has reportedly been sold for approximately $4 billion to a group that includes Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
According to Flo Combat, the organization has been sold to an investment group led by the William Morris Endeavor-IMG agency, which includes The Kraft Group and a pair of Chinese-based companies.
The brainchild of Boston native Dana White, UFC has made crossover stars out of fighters like Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, and Chuck Liddell, and reportedly grossed over $600 million last year.
White, who reportedly owns nearly 10 percent of the UFC, will stand to net more than $300 million in the sale while being granted an ownership stake and continuing with his role as president and promoter.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Report: Robert Kraft among investor group vying to buy UFC||06.16.16 at 6:14 pm ET|
Robert Kraft is already synonymous with winning in football, and apparently he wants to expand his empire to include the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
According to a report on ESPN, Kraft is part of a group attempting to buy the UFC in a deal that could top $4 billion. The report, from business reporter Darren Rovell, said that Kraft and other investors have agreed to put up $25 million to $50 million each with WME-IMG in conjunction with Dalian Wanda Group. WME is co-chaired by Ari Emanuel, reportedly the inspiration for Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold character on HBO’s Entourage.
A group of investors from China are also in the running for the wildly successful UFC, the brainchild of former Boston resident Dana White.
The UFC, which has made crossover stars out of fighters like Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, and Chuck Liddell, reportedly grossed over $600 million last year.
Bidding is drawing to a close and could be decided on Friday, ESPN reported.
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