Sharing thoughts on Myra Kraft

Myra Kraft was the "First Lady of Football" in New England. She viewed the popularity and reach of the Patriots franchise as an opportunity to make a difference in the local community and beyond.

Her passing Wednesday morning after a courageous battle with cancer is met with sadness not just in the Patriots community, but throughout the region.

Robert Kraft often laughed when telling the story of his family purchasing the Patriots in 1994, and how Myra wasn't the biggest football fan. Father and sons had attended games as season-ticket holders, but Myra wasn't a regular. He had to sell her on football, and it wasn't long before she was hooked.

Troy Brown was a big part of that.

There was the day at training camp in Smithfield, R.I., when the Patriots trained at Bryant College, and Myra was walking through campus with all the 200- and 300-pound players, thinking "they all look so tough." Then she spotted Brown, in a reflective moment, feeding some of the fish by the water.

Brown became one of her favorite players after that, and the connection with players grew stronger in the years to come.

"What made Myra Kraft special?" former Patriots fullback/running back Heath Evans asked on Twitter. "Strong but Tender-hearted/Proud but Humble/Bold but Soft-Spoken/Extremely blessed but lived to be a Blessing."

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork called her "momma" and a "wonderful woman."

Robert Kraft often referred to Myra as his "sweetheart", the two usually holding hands when together in public. Television images of the two sitting together in the owner's box became a regular of every Patriots broadcast.

But the games weren't her personal highlight when it came to the Patriots. It was philanthropy.

Every Patriots player has a clause in their contract to take part in 10 charitable events per year, and the Patriots Charitable Foundation seemed to grow each year, helping more in need as times became more challenging.

While the NFL is a business, Myra Kraft represented everything that was good about it, using it as a vehicle to make the lives of others better. That is part of her legacy.

Condolences to Robert Kraft and sons Jonathan, Dan, Josh and David.