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Wed., Apr. 01, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:55 AM EDT
Wed., Apr. 01, 2015 11:55 AM to 2:00 PM EDT
Thu., Apr. 02, 2015 12:00 AM to 11:55 AM EDT
Robert Kraft Press Conference Transcript
RK: First of all, I would like to thank you all for the tone and respect you have given our family over the last few weeks. This has been a different kind of time. You know, our fans have been great. We have gotten letters and people supporting us from all over the world and I am committed to reading every tweet, email [and] letter. I have two boxes of letters that are still packed and the reach of my sweetheart is unbelievable. I am happy to say, that as of this moment, the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund has raised over $3 million dollars, the bulk of which has come from people we don't know, who have given $10 and $20 dollar gifts. What that really means is that it plants the seed for her legacy of giving back to communities that we are going to be additive to that fund and do things that are going to help this region and help people who want to volunteer, or [help] people in need for generations to come. So, football is back in Foxborough. Just looking out over this season and what's happening - first of all, I want you to know we worked very hard and we're proud that we have labor peace for the next 10 years. And we also have a sport where we have 32 teams that are all going to be able to compete and keep this sport vibrant and we're going to grow this business and tie it into our communities even more. But it requires good planning and one of the things that I'm most proud of coming into this season is we knew this was coming and we made an effort to tie up our key veterans, people like [Tom] Brady, [Stephen] Gostkowski and Vince Wilfork, knowing that this was coming. And now, when you have this quick period that you have to react in, we were able to get a lot of seasoned veterans on shorter-term contracts, people like Albert [Haynesworth] and Chad [Ochocinco] and Andre [Carter] and Shaun Ellis - someone who has been playing in our division for over a decade, so he knows it pretty well. As you look out and you look to the playoffs at the end of this year, I think you'll see that those teams that had stability both in terms of their coaching, their offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterback, the teams with stability have the best chance, I'm my opinion, of making the playoffs - it doesn't guarantee it. So I hope that us locking up our core veterans and bringing in these seasoned veterans, as I call them - and probably you'll see our good friend Logan Mankins will be signed up soon, hopefully to be a Patriot for life. That couldn't have happened if we didn't do our planning before we went into the lockout so I just want you to know that that has been done with a lot of thought and a lot of planning and we hope to have a lot of fun down here in Foxborough.
Q: Were you at all aware of the impact Myra Kraft had during her life before she passed?
RK: Well, my sweetheart proposed to me the first date when she was 19 and I was 20. We were together for almost 50 years, so I had the best seat [to] the best person on the planet. I don't know that she understood the global reach, but what she did and how she impacted people, we have to keep that legacy going and we will continue to do it as a family.
Q: How do you continue that legacy with someone who did things that nobody else did without anyone ever knowing it? And that's what made Myra Kraft so special, is that that wasn't really public. This [football] is the public part of it, but what she did and how she changed lives and moved people -that right there, how do you continue that legacy in honor of your sweetheart?
RK: My boys and myself have spent a lot of time planning. And you're right, she did do that. It's unbelievable, from all parts of the world - I even heard she was like the number one global tweet for four hours - I never paid attention to tweeting. She never wanted accolades, she just…you should [read] some of the letters I'm getting. We're going to honor - our campaign this year will be in her honor. We have dedicated the season to her - and volunteerism. And I think one of the greatest institutions is our Armed Forces and the volunteers there. But we're going to take the bulk of the income from this endowment and give it to young people who volunteer back and serve their communities. But at the same time, we have decided - and this is something that would make Myra happy - a lot of people are hurting now and we get lots of letters from people with emergency situations, one time things, so we're going to create an emergency fund for this state, maybe New England, so people can come to us because of one-time needs and just do things to help people who are in trouble and do that in her name. So, we'll do our best.
Q: Robert, do you think you are prepared for the emotions you will feel when you see the jerseys with the patch with her initials?
RK: No. She's a pretty special lady.
Q: You sat with her, right next to her for every game. How are you going to get by these games?
RK: Well, actually, Steve Neal just came and visited me. He was up in the office and he said, ‘What are you doing to remember her?' I said, ‘Well the guys are going to be wearing a patch.' He said, ‘Well, that's cool because that means we're going to have one heck of a season.' Because if they have her energy and desire to win and, in a good way, kick butt where it matters, her spirit will hopefully come through it. But I'm blessed to have wonderful sons; she gave me great sons and grandkids and a lot of good friends. Just getting these letters and seeing what she did that was never known - [it's] pretty powerful.
Q: How did you get the lockout done going through everything that you went through?
RK: You know, we had a team of people who were great. The commissioner [Roger Goodell] did a great job and De[Maurice] Smith and Jeff Saturday and Dominque Foxworth were terrific - I must give them all credit - and the team of owners we had. That's the one thing I did for the last four and half months before Myra passed and it was with her knowledge. She knew how important this game was to America and so she gave me a pass. That was the only time I left her. And we were focused. In a way, it was helping to do something with our team of people that is important to America and that was a good distraction to be honest.
Q: How will you feel sitting up there in the owner's box when kickoff comes with your whole family but without Myra?
RK: Well, we have a lot of good friends and we need a victory - that's what we need, that will be the best help. So I hope, well - you're talking about Miami or San Diego?
Q: I'm talking about tomorrow - the first game you'll be watching.
RK: Well, I'm just happy that football is back, as we all are. That was really something. This is our 18th season, I guess, and we never dreamt there'd be a lockout like this.
Q: Are you confident that you can get a long-term deal done with Logan Mankins by the September 20th?
RK: If I have a vote, it will get done. But the other side has to want it, too. But it's our desire and has always been our desire. But like I tried to explain to you, you can't sign everyone you want, so you need to plan and I think we did our planning knowing the kind of environment we were coming into and we tried to position ourselves so we had our core veterans and we could continue to sign the people we want to sign. We very much think that Logan is among the best there is at his position. We drafted him and we want him here.
Q: Was it encouraging for you to hear him speak positively about wanting to remain here and thinking he wanted to get a deal done?
RK: You know, in all the years I've known him, whenever I have talked to him it's always - sometimes what you read in the media isn't always what the facts are. I don't know if you folks have a chance to see that as often as I do.
Q: It came out of his mouth that's all I know.
RK: Well, I don't know. All I know is I take it - any face-to-face discussions I've had or any private discussions have all been positive. I hope he'll be a Patriot long-term.
Q: What do you think of Chad Ochocinco and what he can bring to the team?
RK: Well, first of all, you have to love the guy. I have people emailing me who would like to host him. I'm not sure I want the responsibility, except someone prominent here in Foxborough has offered to be his host.
Q: Who is the prominent person?
RK: Probably it will remain unsaid - if he winds up with that person, then I'll confirm it. But we don't want any losers here. We have a lot of great people who have come in. I just saw Gerard Warren and Shaun Ellis and Albert [Haynesworth] and Andre Carter. We have some great young men who have come in here and are part of this system, so I'm really excited about the season being back and getting going here.
Q: You have a pin on your lapel, ‘MHK.' Can you talk a little bit about that and what it means to you?
RK: That's a replica of the patch that everyone will be wearing. We're going to do some fun things with these pins. I hope they're good luck charms. There is no one dearer to me, so I'll be wearing it all the time.
Q: How did you feel about Jeff Saturday, not only at the negotiating table, but the compassion he showed?
RK: I'll tell you, Jeff Saturday - the NFL and the NFL Players and owners are lucky that there was a guy like Jeff Saturday in the league because he took the role. You know, players are passing through [but] he took the role of a principal and he made every negotiating session. He represented the interests of the players - the reason was don't have double practices - which some of us might agree or disagree with - but he put so much time and effort. I'll probably share something I'm not sure I should be, but I got a letter from Bill Polian thanking me for what I did. He repeated Jeff's words, and I said, ‘Without Jeff Saturday, there wouldn't have been deal, because he really took the role of a principal and together with De Smith showed tremendous leadership.' Roger Goodell had owners who act as principals. De Smith, really, had Jeff Saturday - he had a bunch of players - but Jeff Saturday and after him Dominique [Foxworth] I think were the key guys. But his ability and perseverance - it's hard to like the center for Peyton Manning; I mean, I really like the guy. He's really, he's terrific, and whoever hires him after football will be getting a great guy. He's a solid, solid - and I think he was an undrafted free agent as well. But he is really intelligent and good. It was hard to like him, but I like him a lot.
Q: After everything you've gone through the past six to nine months, how are you doing? I think people want to know.
RK: I'm blessed. I had the best life partner. I have a great family. I'm involved in a business that I love. I'm passionate about this business. I want to win more than anything. We're going to do what we have to do to try to win here and what comes with that. But it also allows us to do things in the community and touch people. I have a thing - I'm worried a little bit about America. When I said at the end of the press conference that Washington had to change - I really believe the NFL deal was a harder deal with the different forces than the debt problem here, spending. We have to stop this partisanship, we need to get people working together to make America great. This is the greatest country. The other side of tweeting and connectivity is that we're not building relationships and doing the core fundamentals of making things strong. And I think that our family has a chance to make an impact on the community and do things and touch people and try to help people that need it in today's world. I think this is a global situation where too much is done with quickies and we have to work on building relationships and helping our neighbors and communities to be better. When you're privileged to own an NFL franchise, you represent your community and this community is my family and that's how I feel about.
Q: Speaking of family, you had so many players come back for the funeral and Shiva.
RK: It was, I'll tell you, from seeing Willie McGinest come from California and Richard Seymour from Atlanta and Rodney Harrison and Troy Brown, of course, and Ty Law and Curtis Martin. And then Randy Moss coming up and coming to the home. It really - and some of the letters that we have gotten from players throughout the league, it is a sense of family. It's…what a privilege. We welcome that. We're privileged to … I mean, I don't think the general public understands that 98 percent of football players are awesome people. They're team-oriented, they're people that care about their neighbors and for them to make that effort, it meant a lot. And I hope my sweetheart was smiling seeing it.
Q: How do you want people to remember Myra?
RK: I think that the Boston Herald just put her on the cover and said ‘Heart of Gold' and that picture and giving back, and she wasn't looking for anything. She was the real deal. I was a very lucky guy, very lucky. And we love this community and we're going to continue to do everything we can to build upon it and do things that would make her proud.
Q: Was Albert Haynesworth a difficult guy to sign off on?
RK: I met with him. And you know, I've learned in life and in business that people sometimes have different agendas. I met with him and I like the guy, so I take people as - he didn't come here for the money; he came here to be part of a team and win and I think in some ways, improve his reputation. Like a lot of meetings I have with these guys, I found him to be genuine and sincere so now I hope he gets out on the field and does his thing.