Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports writes a piece on Patriots owner Robert Kraft today. This is the time of year Silver likes to unveil his annual "owner rankings", but he decides to take a one-year break to focus on Kraft and his contributions to ensuring labor peace during a time of personal grief.
"In the aftermath of Myra’s passing – and in acknowledgment of this very unusual offseason – I’m going to suspend the rankings for 2011 and instead write about an owner who pushed for labor peace amid tumultuous personal circumstances and earned the sympathy and admiration of allies and adversaries alike," Silver writes.
Comments from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith are part of the piece.
"To assume that this was ever personal in the sense of there being animosity between the two sides, that would be a mistake,” Smith says. "But at the same time, to assume that it was never personal – especially with respect to Robert – that would also be a mistake. Early on, it became clear what he was going through. And we really connected."
Writes Silver, "Whereas Smith and others on the players’ side were often skeptical of the owners’ motives, they viewed Kraft’s insistence upon doing a deal fair to both sides to be genuine, which is one reason they repeatedly requested his presence."
Kraft tells Silver that Elton John, a close family friend, has made plans to send a construction crew to his house to create a garden in Myra's memory.
Meanwhile, quarterback Tom Brady talks about how the players know how much this season means to Kraft. Every player and coach will wear a patch in memory of Myra this season.
"Every time we run out with those patches on our jersey, that’s who we represent, and we’ll be thinking of him," Brady says. "Every game will be emotional in that sense, just cause of what it means for him. We always want to represent him well and do our best for him, and especially now.
"He’s a wonderful person, and I think family has always been what’s most important to him. He gives his life to his family, through and through. And because of that, everyone who knows him understands the loss he’s had to endure."