New England Patriots: Robert Kraft

Robert Kraft statement on investigation

January, 23, 2015
Jan 23
Shortly after the NFL detailed its investigation of the New England Patriots, owner Robert Kraft released the following statement:

“On Monday, I received a letter from the league office informing me that they would be conducting an investigation into the air pressure of the game balls. Immediately after receiving the letter, I instructed our staff to be completely cooperative and transparent with the league’s investigators. During the three days they were here, we provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league’s representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search. It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously. I very much support the league’s desire to conduct a complete investigation and welcome the appointment of Ted Wells to lead the process. Competitive balance and the integrity of the game are the foundation of what makes our league so special and I have the utmost respect for those principles. Our organization will continue to cooperate throughout the league’s investigation. Meanwhile, our players, coaches and staff will continue to focus on our preparations for Super Bowl XLIX and the many challenges we face as we prepare for the Seattle Seahawks.”

Belichick, Kraft guests on 'Mike & Mike'

October, 31, 2014
ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” show made its annual trip to Gillette Stadium on Friday morning, broadcasting a Halloween-themed “Morning Fright” program in front of a live audience. Host Mike Greenberg dressed as Tom Brady, complete with full uniform, snow cap, eye black and, of course, a pair of Uggs on his feet. Mike Golic donned a blue hoodie in doing his best Bill Belichick impression, only to be ridiculed by the coach himself.

Interviews with Bill Belichick (listen HERE) and Robert Kraft (HERE) were the highlights of the show.

Mike and Mike ESPN

Tom Brady rectifies Kraft's high-five fail

September, 23, 2014
Mr. Kraft, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knows how you feel ... and he's got your back.

Robert Kraft took some ribbing on social media on Sunday after CBS cameras showed him reaching for a high five from Mark Wahlberg in his owner's box after a Patriots touchdown and the actor left him hanging, apparently not seeing the owner reaching out.

Belichick, Kraft take Ice Bucket Challenge

August, 12, 2014
Following Tuesday's practice session, the entire Patriots team took the #IceBucketChallenge to #StrikeOUTALS. The day before, Giants president John Mara nominated Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft for the challenge. Here's a Vine of the icy bath posted by the Patriots:

Ty Law dances his way into Patriots Hall

August, 1, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Cornerback Ty Law’s induction into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame on Friday was capped with flair, as Law provided owner Robert Kraft a new pair of shoes and the two danced on stage as music blared.

“We’re going to do this Ty Law-style!” Law said to the crowd after a lengthy speech that included one moment when Law -- fitted in the traditional red jacket for inductees -- had to gather his emotions while thanking his family.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Law and Kraft have busted a move on stage.

[+] EnlargeTy Law
Mike Reiss/ESPNTy Law and Robert Kraft busted out their moves one more time on Friday.
In the Patriots’ victory parade following the Super Bowl XXXVI victory over the St. Louis Rams, Law famously called for Kraft to dance with him on stage. The two did it again in 2011 at The Tradition, an annual event hosted by The Sports Museum that honors New England greats.

This time, Law handed Kraft a gift box that included red, white and blue shoes, and he called for video to be shown of their previous two dances. Then Law asked for the music to be turned up loud, and the two capped off the 90-minute ceremony with the unique touch.

Law’s celebratory dances were unforgettable during his time with the Patriots (1995-2004), and Kraft -- in a humorous introduction speech -- shared the story of how Law gave him an autographed photo from the Super Bowl parade that was signed, “Who says white guys can’t dance?” That photo still hangs in Kraft’s office.

The Patriots Hall of Fame induction has turned into one of the highlights on the Patriots’ annual calendar, drawing thousands of fans who fill the 80-plus steps in the plaza outside the team’s hall, while also surrounding the stage. In addition, notable alumni return from all eras, with this year’s group consisting of safeties Lawyer Milloy and Rodney Harrison, as well as cornerback Otis Smith, who were three of Law’s closest friends during his playing career.

In his speech, Law reflected on how meaningful it was to have always received such a warm welcome from Patriots fans, even when he was “sleeping with the enemy,” a reference to his 2005 season with the New York Jets.

“I’m very humbled by you, the fans, because it was one of the best feelings in the world to come back and see those 24 jerseys out there still cheering,” he said.

Kraft also shared a story from that part of Law’s career, detailing how contract negotiations between the team and Law had reached a stalemate after the team’s final offer. Kraft said Law stopped him in the locker room and said, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Ty F'ing Law!”

Then Kraft noted how “Ty F'ing Law” signed with the “New York F'ing Jets” and proved it by totaling a career-high 10 interceptions that season. Law was never short on confidence.

“How good was Ty Law? The best,” Kraft said in his speech. “And if you don’t believe it, just ask him.”

That led the crowd, and Law, to erupt in laughter on a memorable night that included a little bit of everything -- laughs, tears, poignant memories and, of course, one final dance.

Kraft on another title: 'We want it real bad'

July, 25, 2014
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft appeared on the ESPN "SportsCenter" set this morning in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and spoke with anchor Hannah Storm and analyst Tedy Bruschi about a number of topics.

On the start of training camp. "You feel reborn. ... It's great to see football back."

On the team's upgraded football facilities. "We've invested over $25 million to try to get our facilities top-notch. In this business, if you aren't always pushing -- whether it's in the area of developing software or getting the right free agents or doing all the little things that can help, hopefully, put you in a good position to try to win. It's so hard, as you know.

"I probably speak for every owner in the league that this time of year we're all excited. We think the sky's the limit. We've made our offseason moves. We've had our draft. It's 0-0 wins and losses. So optimistic."

It's going on 10 years now since the Patriots last won a Super Bowl. Does he get impatient? "Absolutely. Especially as the years start creeping up and you realize how delicate everything is. Look at last year: We thought we had a great team and then Vince [Wilfork] goes down in Week 4 and Tommy Kelly in Week 5 and Jerod Mayo in Week 6. So that solid defense … that's the beauty of this game, no one knows what's going to happen.

"We want it real bad. In the end, like everything in life, it is about execution. You have to make it happen, and you also need good fortune not to have injuries and then have the ball bounce right."

On the importance of the NFL putting a team (or teams) in Los Angeles. "I think we've gone almost a generation, almost 20 years I think, without a team in L.A. … It isn't good for the NFL. We have a generation of young people growing up not really branded or tied to a team. I think that kind of passion only comes when you have a team you can root for. I think it's very important. I'd like to see us get two teams in L.A., personally ... then we have the AFC and the NFC."

Kraft talks more about Los Angeles in the video above, saying he would love to see a team come to the city within the next two to three years.

Extra points from Patriots' Play60 event

May, 28, 2014
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A few "extra points" from Wednesday morning's Play60 event with the New England Patriots:

Kraft: Potential special for Patriots: Owner Robert Kraft said that he watched the team's first organized team activity Tuesday, and he is optimistic about what is ahead. "I always think football is back with the draft," Kraft said. "Seeing everybody in there, having 90 people in our system, it's very well organized and it's very exciting. I'm excited about this upcoming year. I know my coach would say 'there's a lot of work to do' and he's right. But the potential is pretty special."

Edelman: Revis and Co. make us all better: In this week's "Monday Morning Quarterback" by Peter King on, Tom Brady talked about how he was tired throwing in the direction of cornerback Darrelle Revis in practice. Along those lines, receiver Julian Edelman was asked if he's tired of going up against Revis himself. "No," he answered. "Revis, [Brandon] Browner, [Devin] McCourty, [Kyle] Arrington, [Alfonzo] Dennard all these guys -- it's only going to make everyone better, including our corps with the receivers. You like going against guys that are very, very good. If you don't, you're in the wrong business. If you can get open on guys like that, it's only going to make you better for Sundays." Edelman added that there is still the taste of losing in the AFC Championship Game, and "you still have to live with that."

Vereen complimentary of rookie White: The Patriots' running back corps picked up a talented newcomer in Wisconsin's James White, the fourth-round draft choice from Wisconsin (130th overall), and he's made a favorable impression on four-year veteran Shane Vereen. "I had never met him [before], my brother [Brock] played against him in college and my brother kind of has a relationship with him. We kind of kicked it off at that," Vereen relayed. "He's cool, we're growing, and he seems to be a really good guy. He likes to learn and is a hard worker." Asked if it's fair to say that he and the 5-foot-9 White represent the smaller crowd at running back, the 5-foot-10 Vereen laughed. "Absolutely. We're the smaller ones but we have all the heart."

Event makes an impression on observer: This Play60 event was well done by Kraft and the Patriots, as well as the students and staff at Igo Elementary School. It also included members of Foxborough's senior center, making it an inter-generational event. Great energy from the students. On a day when former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was in court again, reminding us of a disappointing chapter in the team's history, this event reflected a more positive vibe on how a team connects with its local community.

Kraft issues statement on Wilson's death

March, 25, 2014
New England Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft issued the following statement on the passing of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., who died Tuesday at age 95:

“I would like to extend my sincerest sympathies to Ralph’s wife, Mary, his daughters and his extended family, including every coach, player, staff member and fan of the Buffalo Bills who are mourning his loss today. As one of the founding fathers of the AFL, Ralph deserves a lot of credit for taking that initial risk and for the many contributions he made to the NFL over the past 54 years. He built a franchise that the Buffalo community loves and embraces. Personally, I will always be grateful for how he welcomed me when I first entered the league. He was always a gracious host and I will never forget that. I will miss him.”

Timing key with Wilfork, Patriots

March, 25, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A lot can change in a span of two weeks, and that is the big takeaway when it comes to the Patriots and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.

It doesn't mean they'll ultimately strike a contract agreement that works for both sides, but it does clear up some confusion over the last two days at the NFL's annual meeting at the Ritz-Carlton.

First, owner Robert Kraft shared his thoughts Monday that he hopes Wilfork remains a Patriot and that he believes Wilfork feels the same way. That cautious optimism indicated that perhaps there was forward momentum between the sides.

But almost immediately after Kraft said those words, a report surfaced that Wilfork was so angry, he had "ripped" his nameplate off and cleaned out his locker. In some media circles, that blunted what Kraft said and created a picture of acrimony between the sides.

Except ...

"That happened a long time ago," a source said.

That timing is key when it comes to Wilfork and the context surrounding his present situation.

Surely, he was angry two weeks ago when he requested his release and did indeed clean out his locker, as first reported by the Boston Herald. Doing so represented a symbolic showing of his discontent.

But that doesn't account for what could have happened over the last two weeks or so. Things have changed, the sides are talking.

That probably explains why Bill Belichick seemed to go out of his way Tuesday morning to dismiss the idea of a contentious situation with Wilfork. It might have been at one point, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's that way now.

There have been some steps forward, but more are needed to push it over the goal-line. As we learned last year with Wes Welker, just because things might be looking up doesn't mean an agreement is forthcoming. It can fizzle out quickly.

But one thing is clear: The Patriots and Wilfork are in a better place than they were two weeks ago.

Belichick: Should verify with Vince

March, 25, 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. -- When a reporter asked Bill Belichick about defensive tackle Vince Wilfork's request to be released, this was Belichick's response at Tuesday's AFC coaches breakfast:

"You need to talk to him about any of those statements, which I think you should verify first."

Earlier in the breakfast, Belichick had been asked about the "contentious" situation with Wilfork and said, "I don't really know the nature of your question, maybe that's something you have to talk to Vince about."

Belichick's remarks came one day after owner Robert Kraft said, "I very much hope we get it done, and I believe [Vince] very much would like to do it as well."

These comments have stood out to me over the past 24 hours.

Belichick's, in particular, seems to call into question the context and/or accuracy of Wilfork's reported request to be released, or perhaps Belichick is simply focusing on the present snapshot, which has shifted from two weeks ago.

There was a point Tuesday morning when Belichick was asked specifically if Wilfork had requested his release, and the coach said he wouldn't get into specifics on any players.

The big takeaway from all of this?

It's clear the sides are working through a complicated contractual issue, and in light of that, Wilfork's future with the franchise still hangs in the sensitive balance.

But remarks from Belichick and Kraft paint a picture of a situation that isn't as contentious as it might seem to be from a public perception standpoint.

How that affects the endgame still remains to be seen.

A day to highlight special teams market

February, 24, 2014
On a day the Oakland Raiders signed special teams ace Taiwan Jones to a three-year contract extension through the 2017 season, it highlights the market for valuable specialists.

It's a market in which Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater is one of the key figures.

Initial reports of Jones' deal indicate that he'll receive $4.355 million as part of the three-year extension. Because he had one year left on his rookie contract, it essentially amounts to a new four-year, $5 million contract.

That comes in below Slater, as it should, given Slater's standing as one of the NFL's premier special teamers. Slater's most recent contract, signed in the 2012 offseason when he was an unrestricted free agent, is a three-year, $5.4 million pact.

Slater is scheduled for free agency after the 2014 season and it already seemed to be on the mind of owner Robert Kraft when he spoke with reporters at the Super Bowl this year.

“We’re doing whatever we can to free up any money we can,” Kraft said. “[One reporter] has said we need some players on the offensive side. Other people say we need on the defensive side. We have a fellow like Matt Slater who is such an outstanding special-teams player, he’s a free agent coming up. So we have to balance a lot of things.”

Exploring Michael Sam and Patriots fit

February, 10, 2014
With Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announcing publicly Sunday that he was gay, putting him in position to become the first openly active gay player in NFL history, the thought probably crossed the mind of many team-based reporters:

Could you envision a scenario in which Sam lands on the team you cover?

Here are some of my Patriots-based thoughts:

1. It’s about winning: If Bill Belichick thought Sam could help the Patriots win, and he represented the oft-stated “value pick” when he was available, I don’t think he’d hesitate to draft him or sign him after the draft.

2. Something Kraft would root for: Owner Robert Kraft doesn’t make X’s and O’s football decisions, deferring to Belichick, whose track record speaks for itself. But if all things were equal, I think adding Sam is something Kraft would root for because of the inclusive message it would send by his franchise. I think that would mean a lot to Kraft, who takes pride in the Patriots being a “pillar in the community.”

3. Locker-room culture: As an anonymous scout mentioned in Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” piece on, the Patriots have the type of culture -- with strong leadership at the top with Belichick and in the locker room -- where the hubbub that is sure to follow Sam would be quickly extinguished. Former Patriots receiver Donte’ Stallworth made a similar point on Twitter. There are countless examples of situations that were supposed to be distractions (e.g. Aaron Hernandez's murder charge, Tim Tebow's signing etc.) that turned out to be anything but distractions because it’s about football, first and foremost, in New England. For that to work, the player(s) and team have to be working off the same script.

4. Sam’s football fit in New England: Sam is an undersized defensive end by NFL standards (6-foot-1 5/8, 260 pounds) and those players usually don’t carry as high of a draft grade with the Patriots, who have generally preferred their end-of-the-line players to be in the 6-foot-5 and 255-pound range (similar to 2012 first-round pick Chandler Jones). So purely from a height-weight-role standpoint, I don’t see the perfect football fit with the Patriots based on the team’s drafting history. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t happen, as one possible comparable is 2003 Patriots seventh-round draft choice Tully Banta-Cain, who was in that same type of “tweener” category of 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebacker. Banta-Cain developed into an effective pass-rusher for the team, and every club is looking for disruptive pass-rushers.

Kraft: 'Loading up' strategy not for me

January, 31, 2014
Following his chat with reporters at the Super Bowl, Patriots owner Robert Kraft visited with the “Felger and Mazz” show on Boston sports radio 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday afternoon, and answered a question that's been on the minds of New England fans ever since the loss to the Broncos in the AFC title game: With Tom Brady's window closing, does Kraft feel any urgency to “load up” in the next couple of seasons to give the team its best chance to win another title while his Hall of Fame quarterback is still in his prime?

Kraft was sympathetic to that opinion, considering the Patriots' last Super Bowl victory was nearly a decade ago, but his stance was clear. His Patriots team has reached at least the conference title game in nine of his 20 years as owner, so why change strategies now?

“We're trying to manage our resources as wisely as we can and be as aggressive as we can, but make sure every year we are putting ourselves in a position to win,” he said.


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In other words, sacrificing future success for a potentially better chance in the short term is not how he prefers to build an NFL team. There are just too many variables out of his control, injuries being the most significant.

“There's so many things that happen. I don't ever believe in selling your soul for a bowl of [porridge],” Kraft said. “We want to be in the running and do whatever we can to be the best we can be.“

Show co-host Mike Felger cited the 2012 Baltimore Ravens as a team that loaded up and went on to win the Super Bowl.

“Let's talk about that for a minute,” Kraft responded. “Baltimore beat us in the [AFC] Championship Game last year and won the Super Bowl. What happened to them this year? Did they make the playoffs?”

For the record, the Ravens finished 8-8 in 2013 and out of the playoffs.

Kraft was asked: But don't you want another championship?

“Nothing is more important to me personally than winning as many championships as we can win while the good Lord lets me be on this planet,” he said.

So isn't it worth giving up a little in the future to give the team the best chance at one more title?

“You can load up and do whatever you want and you don't know what's going to happen,” Kraft said. “There are things happening way beyond your control. There are injuries that happen. God forbid anyone on our team get injured.

“When we started the season, we had some offensive weapons that were pretty powerful and defensive weapons. And look what happened -- less than half the season in, we probably lost five or six of the top players on our roster.

“I think a better strategy [than loading up] is to try to be solid and be able to compete year in and year out.”

In an interview with a group of reporters earlier, Kraft said he'd like to see the team re-sign key free agents Aqib Talib and Julian Edelman. On the radio show, Kraft said he'd like to see the Patriots sign as many of the team's free agents as possible, but acknowledged the realities of the salary cap.

“It's not like we have unlimited funding,” Kraft said. “[Talib] wasn't on the field a lot of the time since he's been with us. It's a balance, of us balancing all that out and what is he worth. I think he's happy here and would like to be here. We're happy with him and we'd like to have him here. Now it's just about doing business, and that's our intent.”

The Patriots' salary-cap situation for 2014 is a bit of a moving target because the NFL has yet to set the actual cap (projections have it ranging from $123 million to $128 million). We know the Patriots have $128 million committed to their cap for 2014, but they will get a $4.1 million credit because that is the amount they are rolling over from 2013.

Unless they make some cuts or do some restructuring, they don't presently have a lot of wiggle room.

“We have to try to sustain success by managing as wisely as we can. That's not dependent on any one player because no one knows what's going to happen,” Kraft said. “We are always spending to the cap. Because certain incentives might not come in, if we don't spend to the cap we're going to carry it over and we're going maximize the dollars we are able to spend. It's the matter of how you commit them that really counts.”

Roster depth, he said, is as important as anything due to the unpredictability of injuries. He cited the three defensive linemen who were undrafted free agents who ended up playing key roles toward the end of the season.

“The bottom third of your roster is so important. We'll have to go through a lot of soul-searching over the next few months and come up with the best solution,” he said.

Sound bites from Robert Kraft at Bowl

January, 31, 2014
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hold his “state of the NFL” news conference on Friday, which is usually attended by most team owners. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is in attendance and expected address reporters later in the day.

This morning, Kraft was a guest on “CBS This Morning” and CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, and one of the common threads in the interviews is that Kraft is a big proponent of a cold-weather Super Bowl.

Here were some of the sound bites from Kraft:

Looking ahead to the Patriots’ 2014 season (CNBC): “The good news is, I believe we’re the third youngest team in the NFL. People don’t realize that. We have a great young crop of players, and we’re still privileged to have Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo -- core veterans. I think we have the best coach and best quarterback in the NFL.”

On quarterback Brady, who turns 37 in August, and his current standing (CNBC): “I’ll just tell you, all week this week, he’s been in the stadium, working with our offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to see what they can do to improve. There is a great focus.”

On an NFL franchise potentially located in London (CBS): “We have three games there; [I think] they’re sold out next year. We’ve played there a couple times. I think that’s a great place. I really believe that before the decade is out we’ll have a team there.”

On the Thursday night broadcast package out for bid (CBS): “We have a Thursday night package that’s in the bidding process now, and you talk about the great interest of football, the interest in our Thursday night package from all our broadcast partners is tremendous. We are the only way to get a mass audience watching, as you will see this Sunday. I would hope the next few weeks we’ll choose the right partner.”

What the Brady vs. Peyton Manning rivalry has meant for football (CBS): “It’s wonderful. We’re going to play them again next year, and it might be the last time the two of them -- the two greatest quarterbacks in the modern era are on the field [together]. They have great respect for one another. They’ve played 15 times, and my guy Tommy has won 10 of them. Not that we’re competitive [panel laughter].”

Who is he rooting for in the Super Bowl (CBS): “I have people on both sides. I love Wes Welker. I’ve hired two coaches in my career, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, in 20 years. I get torn, but to be honest, it’s hard to root for anybody when you’re in my position. ... [Pete] is such a great guy, one of the nicest men. He’s a different profile than most of the coaches; he’s like an energetic, enthusiastic young man on the sideline. He has a great family. He’s a very special person. ... Wes Welker is also a pretty special guy.”

Robert Kraft: 'I loved Sam Berns'

January, 11, 2014
KraftThos Robinson/Getty Images via HBOPatriots owner Robert Kraft said he extended an offer to be honorary captain for tonight's game and was shocked and saddened to hear of his death.

News of the death of Sam Berns, the 17-year-old Foxborough resident and diehard Patriots fan who battled the rare premature-aging disease progeria, drew an emotional response from Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Kraft, who had befriended Berns and took a deep interest in the young man's medical condition, at one point donating $500,000 to the foundation started by his parents in search of a cure, issued the following statement Saturday afternoon:
"I loved Sam Berns and am richer for having known him. He was a special young man whose inspirational story and positive outlook on life touched my heart. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time with him and to get to know his incredible family. Together, they positively impacted the lives of people around the world in their quest to find a cure for Progeria. The HBO documentary ‘Life According to Sam’ shared his incredible story with a national audience. It was so beautifully done. It made you laugh. It also made you cry. Today, it’s the latter for all who knew Sam or learned of his story through that documentary. Earlier this week, I had extended an invitation for Sam to be the Patriots’ honorary captain for tonight’s playoff game. I was looking forward to spending more time with Sam and his family. News of his passing came as a complete surprise. It is another reminder that we can’t take anything for granted. Be sure to give your loved ones hugs and kisses and tell them how much you love them. My heart aches for his parents, Scott and Leslie, his aunt Audrey and the rest of Sam’s extended family. Words cannot express the sadness or the depth of sympathy I feel for them today.”