NFL Nation: Robert Kraft

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
Jul 25
video 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.

Kraft issues statement on Wilson's death

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25
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
Mar 25
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
Mar 25
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.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Faith. Family. Football.

Those are the three things Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay constantly preaches to those in the organization. Those three things have strong ties to Irsay today and will tomorrow and in the future.

The faith has to be there that Irsay can overcome his unfortunate addiction. There's no better time than now for Irsay's immediate family and football family to stick by him as he works his way through rehabilitation. And at some point, many hope sooner rather than later, Irsay will be back running his football team on a day-to-day basis.

"We're going to support Jim no matter what and the biggest thing, No. 1, is his well-being, just getting healthier," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said in between sessions at the NFL owners meetings Monday. "We miss him, love him, wish he was here with us. But again, like I said, I'm not the only guy who would take a bullet for this man."

Irsay isn't at the owners meetings. His daughter Carlie Irsay-Gordon is in Orlando, Fla., representing the franchise while her father is at a health-care facility.

"My whole family's prayers are going for him," Arizona Cardinals coach and former Colts interim coach Bruce Arians said. "Let's hope he comes back strong."

Irsay faces four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance after being arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel late March 16.

"Anyone who knows Jim Irsay [knows he] is a good guy," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "He's a kind man, he's well-intentioned, and he's in my prayers. What's happened to him has not changed my opinion of him."

The Colts say they'll be fine with the day-to-day operations while Irsay is in rehab. Truth be told, they'll miss him. Irsay isn't one of those hands-on owners who's always meddling in things, but general manager Ryan Grigson uses his owner as a sounding board. That's not surprising considering Irsay was the Colts' general manager from 1984 to 1993.

Arians recalls Irsay coming out to practice every Thursday when he was the team's interim coach while Pagano battled leukemia in 2012 and they'd walk off the field together talking about a wide range of subjects.

"I don't care which game it was, which year it was, which player it was, schematically, offense, defensive philosophy, he knows it inside and out," Pagano said. "He's been around it forever and ever. He's got a bright eye for not only talent, but everything else he has to do to run a successful program."

Catching up with: Andre Carter

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
Andre Carter has a simple routine these days: Wake up, help his son do homework, work out and "do whatever my wife tells me." No, he's not retired but he's not far away from it either. Carter spent five seasons in Washington, arriving as a prized free-agent defensive end. He exited after one year as an ill-fitted outside linebacker in a 3-4. In between he recorded 34 sacks, with 10.5 (and four forced fumbles) coming in 2007, which also happened to be a playoff year for Washington. Other than that season, Carter experienced a lot of losing.

Here's what Carter had to say on:

[+] EnlargeAndre Carter
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsAndre Carter, a 13-year veteran, isn't ready to hang up his cleats just yet.
Whether he’d like to play again: I would still like to play. I haven’t officially retired. There’s still that one goal, which is to win Super Bowls. I know I’m not a younger pup, even though I still play like one. I’m realistic how the league moves over; everyone is going younger. My main goal and objective this offseason is to stay in shape, just because I love staying in shape. It gives me something to do. At the same time I have to shift my mind to the future and life after football and continue to make that transition. It’s a healthy balance.

Crossing that line from player to retirement: It’s not hard to cross that line. I talked to one of my former teammates, Bryant Young, after the season and he said what are you going to do? I said if someone wants me to play, I play. He said that’s good if you still have that fire, then by all means go ahead. Guys have said they know when they’re done because they said, ‘I had nothing left in the tank. My body is beat up. I don’t have the patience to keep the offseason training.’ I’m not there yet. I still feel as far as my durability and the knowledge of the game and the love of playing is still there. That’s something I’ll take to heart and know that in the end if a team does want me I’ll be ready.

Life after football: I have been talking to a lot of people I have a relationship with in TV and radio as far as commentating. It’s something I’m constantly working on, the craft of learning how to speak and be engaging, the mechanics of opening your mouth and analyzing the game. One of the good resources I have is [NFL Network’s] Mike Silver and my old high school coach is Tim Ryan. Those two are such a big part of my life. I connected with Tim when the Chargers played the Colts and I saw how he and his colleagues worked on the radio side [for Westwood One]. It was good to see. I wondered can I do this as a career and I was like I know I can. It’s a matter of do you want to do play-by-play or color or the pregame show. So many avenues.

Classes he’s taken to prepare: I’m working with a voice speed coach to try and understand annunciations, little things you may take for granted but are very important if you’re going into TV or radio, to project your voice and make sure you sound clear. I have a low voice so when I look at interviews I cringe because I understand what I’m saying, but does the audience understand what I’m saying? That’s why I’m doing technique exercises and drills, reading out loud. The reps help.

Why he wants to do this: To stay connected to the game. Your foot is still in the door, you’re still having fun, you’re still around the guys. It’s not the locker room, but it’s still fun. So why not? I would love to coach. But coaching is a lot of hours. It’s a big commitment. That’s something I’ll look at down the road once my son [now 6] graduates. Until then I’ll enjoy my family.

The best part about playing in Washington: I enjoyed just meeting the guys that came back, the old-school players. You name it, they were there and that just showed these guys really care about the tradition and really cared about continuing the legacy, that Redskins pride. That’s important. It brings a lot of camaraderie and a sense of pride about yourself. We were not only representing ourselves, but those guys that made the Redskins name.

The toughest part about playing in Washington: For as much talent as we had, it was disappointing when we were unsuccessful. Being with New England gives you a different perspective, especially this year. We had a lot of major injuries and a lot of key guys out. We could have turned it in early. But Bill kept us humble and hungry. He took guys not as talented as the other players who were out, but they worked their butts off. When a group of men believes in one another and you do your job, that’s what we did. We did our job. There’s no secret pill or drink we took. We just focused and tried to outexecute our opponents. If we had taken that mentality [in Washington] and used it to our advantage, who knows what we could have done? Live and learn from experience.

The difference in organizations: One thing the [Patriots] do so well is they evaluate themselves from a coaching standpoint and in evaluating players. But when I got there in 2011, one coach was here had worked there 10 years. Another had been there 12 years. Another guy learning to be an offensive line coach had been there for three or four years. The staff was such a tight-knit group and they worked together. It’s tough when you don’t have consistency in coaches. The philosophy and style changes. The play-calling changes. The scheme changes. It’s like starting over. That’s one of the toughest things from a team standpoint to go through. With the Patriots, you knew who we had and who they could trust and when you have that consistency it makes things so much easier.

Exploring Michael Sam and Patriots fit

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
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
Jan 31
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.


If you ran the Patriots, how would you approach this offseason?


Discuss (Total votes: 21,406)

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
Jan 31
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.”

Kraft: Team behind Gronk's decision

October, 13, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was a guest on ESPN New York radio on Sunday morning, and was asked by host Mike Lupica about tight end Rob Gronkowski's potential return.

Here is the Q&A from that part of the interview:

Q: Has Gronkowski's relationship with the team become complicated?

Kraft: "No, well, look, he's a young man that has had a number of different operations and I just want to make clear, because I know the media has a job to do, our first concern is his health and safety and doing what's in his best interest long-term. And he's the only one who can decide when he's ready to play and we're completely behind whatever his decision is. Obviously all of us would like him to come as soon as possible, but we're not going to let our short-term desire impede what's right for the long-term."

Also, Ed Werder and the "Sunday NFL Countdown Crew" discuss the report that the absence of Gronkowski is causing resentment and tension among teammates.

Sunday Countdown: Kraft, Nelson, more

October, 10, 2013
Sunday NFL Countdown airs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on ESPN. Below are some of the features you can see in Week 6.

Also, check out our experts’ picks.

Robert Kraft’s owner’s box: Why does it seem like the owner’s box at Gillette Stadium is the “it” place to be on a Sunday afternoon. Celebs who have spent the day watching with the owner -- Steven Tyler, Donald Trump, Ozzy Osbourne and Jon Bon Jovi -- explain.

Walk the line/Jordy Nelson: Week after week we see Nelson make phenomenal sideline catches. So we sent one of the best receivers ever at this, Cris Carter, to demonstrate with the Packers’ receiver.

Caliendo/Gruden 30 for 30: Frank Caliendo’s at it again ... as Jon Gruden in a comical behind-the-scenes look at what Gruden’s like when he is not talking football.

Eric Berry Soundtracks: The Chiefs' defensive leader is mic'd in a Week 4 win against the Giants.

Mort and Adam 10 questions: What’s the league’s take on Jadeveon Clowney? Who’s the next QB who could be headed to the bench? Are any major deadline deals in the works? Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen have the answers.

Kraft 'very much wanted' Tebow with Pats

September, 3, 2013
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, appearing on CBS's "This Morning" on Tuesday, said he wanted Tim Tebow to make the Patriots roster and hopes he gets another shot to play quarterback with a different team.

"I love Tim Tebow and I very much wanted him on the team," Kraft said. "If you look, four of the last five years we've only carried two quarterbacks and you know when a cut-down time comes, you need those last three, four positions for depth."

The Patriots are, of course, well-stocked at quarterback, led by Tom Brady.

"And we happen to have, I think, the finest quarterback in the history of the game, so he's not going off the field except by injury," Kraft said of Brady. "We have a great second string quarterback [Ryan Mallett]."

Kraft, like Bill Belichick and Brady previously, did not shut the door on a possible Tebow return.

"We never know what's going to happen," he said. "You're one play away at all times from your whole game changing, and there's no -- I haven't met a finer young man."

Kraft believes that Tebow will find success in his off-field ventures, while remaining hopeful that he has a chance to continue his football pursuits.

"Whatever he does, I know he's going to be a great success off the field and I'm rooting for him to get his opportunity on the field as well," he said.

Asked why Tebow has had trouble finding work -- he was a free agent for nearly a month and a half after being released by the Jets in April -- Kraft noted his desire to play solely quarterback and not another position, as some have suggested might be a better fit for his skill set.

"I think he wants to be a quarterback, and who is to say he won't get his opportunity?" Kraft continued. "To have a guy like that in the locker room, the kind of person he is, the way he conducts himself."

Tebow, who cleared waivers on Sunday, is now a free agent.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 28, Giants 20

August, 29, 2013

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rapid reaction from the New England Patriots' preseason finale against the Giants, a 28-20 victory:

A night for backups and the bubble watch: Bill Belichick rested most of his first-unit players on offense and defense. The Giants, on the other hand, opened with their starters. So from a Patriots perspective, it was a chance to get a feel of which veterans are truly on the roster bubble -- safety Adrian Wilson, running back Leon Washington and tight end Daniel Fells are three near the top of the list as they played deep into this game.

Tebow plays second half: Fighting for a spot on the Patriots roster, quarterback Tim Tebow came on at the start of the second half and played the final 30 minutes of action. He finished 6-of-11 for 91 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and added 30 yards on six rushes. Things started slowly (he was sacked four times in the third quarter) before his highlight came early in the fourth quarter -- a 52-yard touchdown to rookie receiver Quentin Sims on a third-and-10 play. Tebow made a nice throw over the middle, and over-pursuit by safety Cooper Taylor allowed Sims to race the final 30 or so yards for the touchdown. But later in the quarter, Tebow was intercepted by cornerback Trumaine McBride on a long pass down the left sideline to rookie receiver Aaron Dobson that was underthrown. His final touchdown pass came with six seconds remaining, a 9-yard toss to Sims in the back-right corner of the end zone.

Offensive line getting healthy: One of the more important developments for the Patriots was the return of third-year offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, a top backup who played for the first time this preseason and played into the second half, which was important for him from a conditioning standpoint. Between Cannon's return, and starting right guard Dan Connolly playing for the second week in a row after worked his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, the line is as healthy as it's been all preseason.

No major injuries: The Patriots, who finished the preseason with a 3-1 record, didn't have any players leave the game with notable injuries. The Giants weren't as fortunate, as running back Andre Brown broke his leg, the team announced.

Welcome, Tiger Woods: Patriots owner Robert Kraft welcomed Tiger Woods as his guest for tonight's game. The two spent time on the field together before the game, then Woods watched from Kraft's owner's box. Woods is in town for the Deutsche Bank Championship. In the past, Kraft has played golf with Woods.

What's next: The team's roster must be trimmed from 75 to 53 by Saturday at 6 p.m. Then the focus entirely turns to the Sept. 8 season opener on the road against the Buffalo Bills.

Kraft addresses Hernandez before gala

August, 27, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are set to host their kickoff gala on Tuesday night, an annual gathering when the team’s charitable foundation will name its latest winner of the Ron Burton Community Service Award.

Yet, the event also served as an anniversary the Patriots would rather forget. Hours before their kickoff gala last season, news emerged that former tight end Aaron Hernandez had signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension. Both spoke emotionally about the moment, with Hernandez calling it a “blessing” in his life.

Hernandez’s tenure with the Patriots, and presumably his NFL career, ended abruptly in June when he was charged with first-degree murder.

On Tuesday night, Kraft said that the tumultuous offseason has appeared to fortify what he noted is one of the NFL’s youngest teams.

“Every year there is some kind of surprise that you can’t anticipate and sometimes the difficult things help to bring a team together,” he said. “I’m actually pretty excited about this team. They seem to be coming together pretty well. I’m excited about this season and the next few seasons.”

Kraft responded to a grievance filed Monday by the NFL Players Association on behalf of Hernandez, seeking to recoup $82,000 in workout bonuses that the Patriots did not pay Hernandez.

“Simple: you can look at our history. We honor all of our contracts, and we expect the people who sign them to honor their part of their contract,” Kraft said, declining further comment.

Kraft also reflected back on the decision, admitting that it was hard to predict the developments with Hernandez.

“In 20 years, we’ve probably had over 2,000 people playing here. I think by and large, we’ve done a pretty good job,” he said, adding that the team did not have any off-field incidents in the previous four years. “We’re as diligent as we can be. We know what we want to achieve, yet when people go outside of this building, it’s like those of you who have children. Once they get to a certain age, you can’t control their activities.”

Hernandez’s extension and his later arrest have caused the Patriots to review the way they conduct business, Kraft said.

“Every year, in all of our businesses, we re-calibrate what we’re doing to make sure we’re staying fresh and on top of things. Once you stop doing that, you’ll perish,” he said. “This is a business that is the most competitive business I’ve ever been involved in. We’ve reviewed everything. We’ve been very diligent in the way we look at things. We’ll try to do things as best as we can to achieve the results we want.”

However, Kraft said that it remains up to players to control their behavior off the field.

“In the end, we have a business and a company we’re running here. We have 61 young men, most of whom are in their early 20s. It’s a microcosm of the world. There’s all kinds of things that are going to happen,” he said. “We do our best to hope that they understand they’re in a unique place. Playing in the NFL is a privilege. We hope that they’re wise and mature enough to make sure they know how to take advantage of that.”