Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Q&A with Robert Kraft
By Mike Rodak
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft spoke to reporters Wednesday following a luncheon at which the team's charitable foundation awarded $200,000 in grants to local nonprofits as part of the Myra Kraft Community MVP program.
The biggest topic afterward, of course, was the Patriots' recent signing of quarterback Tim Tebow. The following is a Q&A from the exchange:
Thoughts on the Tim Tebow signing?
"If you want to win in this league, you need quality depth management, in the age of the salary cap. Whenever you can get a competitive, first-grade person to join your team, you never know what happens. But for me personally, having Tim Tebow on this team, he's someone who believes in spirituality, he's very competitive and works hard, and has a great attitude, and he's a winner. So having him as part of our franchise is great, but he has to compete just like anyone else. We're blessed to have a lot of people like that, but the fact that spirituality is very important to him is very appealing to me."
What makes New England an ideal environment for Tebow?
"You'll have to ask him that. We try to have a certain standard here of what's right for us. Every interaction I've seen and watched when he was in college or when I met him in the draft process, he handles himself in a first-class way. I don't know anyone who has ever said anything that is not positive about him, among people who are objective."
Do you worry about the media frenzy surrounding Tebow?
"I'm just excited that you're all back, I'm excited football is back. I really have missed it. It's going to be tough getting to the end of July after tomorrow. I'm just really excited for this season and excited about the team we're building."
Four years ago, when the issue of Michael Vick as a free agent came up, you said, "Why would I ever want to take Tom Brady off the field?" Can Tim Tebow find other ways to contribute to the team if Tom Brady is upright and playing?
"In my mind, we have the greatest quarterback of all time on our team, and every time he has the ball in his hands, we have the chance to do something great. So nothing has changed in that regard for me."
How much contact have you had with Tebow over the years?
"I like to go to two or three college games, and some of my sons, one of my grandsons loves to go. We went down to Florida. I had a chance to see him play. I had a chance to see him play in a college championship game. And then I remember in the draft process and we've had a chance to run into one another, and he's just first class."
What impresses you about Tebow on the field?
"I think he's hard-working and he's very cooperative. I don't think there's any coach who wouldn't like to have a team full of people like he is. So like Brady, who goes out there and works hard, or Vince Wilfork or Jerod Mayo. They come in, they work hard, they prepare hard and they're all business. You can't get enough people like that on your team, so we're honored that he's with us."
Have you talked to Josh McDaniels, who drafted Tebow in Denver, about what he can contribute to the team?
"Well, I try to hire good people and let them do their job and don't question how they do things. We evaluate how they handle everything."
How did the signing come about? "He's just one of 90 people right now. So I wonder if we haven't talked enough about him [laughter]. But if you want to keep talking about him, we can do that."
Bill Belichick said it was a teamwide decision to bring him in. Were you part of that team, were you part of that decision? "Yes. [Belichick] spoke to me about it. Look, life is about collecting good people around you who you like to have with you and who want to win. And I think he, like many of our other players, fall into that category. So you can't have enough good people around you. And he has the added dimension of spirituality being so important to him, and that personally appeals to me a lot."
With one day left in the offseason program, what are you noticing about this team?
"To be honest, after the draft, I'm always excited. I'm always excited now. But in the end, you need two, three, four, five, six games, and hope there are no injuries. I am excited about this team. I think our young players from last year have improved, they've worked hard. We've seen the greatest jump in the past of so many of our players, between the first and second year. With the salary cap and free agency, you have a player for four years, and if you're going to try to build a team and get good value, that second year is very important. But we've been able to bring in some interesting free agents, so I'm very excited about the team."
What do you think of Tebow's throwing mechanics?
"He's a lot better than I am. Actually, watching him yesterday, I was just out there for a short period, but to me he looked pretty good. It's fun having him here. I think that Tom Brady throws pretty well, and I also think that Ryan Mallett does the same, so it's nice to have three quarterbacks who can throw very well."