Soundbites from Jonathan Kraft

March, 21, 2011
3/21/11
6:05
PM ET
NEW ORLEANS – Soundbites from Patriots president Jonathan Kraft in his Q&A with reporters today:

A message to season ticket holders who are facing a March 31 deadline to submit payment. “I appreciate their feelings. We always have had March 31st as our deadline, I think since we’ve moved to Gillette. The way you back up the timeline – we believe there is going to be a season in 2011. In order to get the renewal process done, then to handle the upgrades, as well as the moving of people off the season-ticket waiting list, and then print the tickets that are personalized by accounts and have it in people’s hands by the beginning of July, we actually needed to stay with that date. It’s not something where you can just decide in the middle of August, ‘Oh, we’re going to have a season’ and send out an invoice. It would be physically impossible to process all of it. So we’re going to stick with our traditional schedule and if games aren’t played, the game monies are going to be refunded and refunded with interest.”

Jonathan Kraft
Mike Reiss/ESPNBoston.comTalking with reporters at the NFL owners meeting, Jonathan Kraft said he fully expects there will be football in 2011.
On Brandon Meriweather and today’s Orlando Sentinel report that Meriweather’s lawyer says he wasn’t the shooter. “I haven’t read it and I haven’t seen it. I can’t comment on something like that where I haven’t seen the comment and don’t know anything about it.”

What it’s like at Gillette Stadium without players. “We’d like to be operating under normal conditions. We put what we believed was a very fair offer on the table to keep the negotiations going. Again, the players and their representatives chose to get up and leave the table. That’s why we’re here where we are now. It would be fun to see all the players in Foxborough right now, but that’s not the reality.”

Where do the Patriots stand in terms of cutting coaches’ salaries because of the lockout. “Right now, we’re focused on getting ready. We believe there’s going to be a season in 2011 and so our full complement of organizational staff is working full-time under normal terms and conditions and we’re going to keep working that way for the foreseeable future.”

How important it is that the relationship with players isn’t damaged by labor battle. “The idea of protecting what makes the NFL so special, while all this sausage-making is going on, is important. I can tell you that the people in this room today, that’s something we’re all focused on.”

Mike Vrabel’s suggestion to have both sides’ executive committees meet in labor dispute. “I think the Commissioner has said this pretty consistently, this is going to get resolved not through litigation but through sitting down at a table and negotiating, with the federal mediators, and resolving it that way. In that regard, I think Mike is saying the right stuff. He’s an ex-Patriot, so we’d expect him to say the right things. I think the league, we’ve been pretty consistent in saying we’re prepared to sit down and negotiate to a resolution as opposed to litigate.”

Digital media advancements in the NFL. "Hopefully by the start of this season, for the first time in our history, all 32 clubs will be on the same content management system, which I think is going to allow us to take an internet network -- 32 club sites and the league site, that today is very popular [with] over 100 million uniques and growing pretty aggressively, to grow it even more aggressively and generate even more money so that we have growing revenues to divide up between the players and the owners and have some success. I think you're also going to see us announce some news, hopefully around the tablet business and some other things, in the next 24 hours. They still have to be brought to a vote among the whole ownership here."

On Robert Kraft’s absence from the NFL meetings. “My dad is fine. He is dealing with something else that we’re just going to keep private.”

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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