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Nike RKK Air Force 1 release kicks off home opener
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Kickoff for the Patriots home opener wouldn't be for another 12 hours, but that didn't stop Patriots fans from lining up outside the ProShop bright and early Thursday morning. Some had been there since 3 a.m., prepared with beach chairs and snacks.
No, they weren't waiting for the gates to open. These fans came out on a chilly morning to get their hands on the fourth Nike RKK Air Force 1 Flyknit sneaker. Staking out the ProShop has become an annual tradition for some dedicated sneakerheads, and Robert Kraft was there to greet them before they went inside.
As he walked down the line, taking photos and handing out pins, he wasn't disappointed by the crowd that came out to support the initiative.
Among the first in line was Dylan Wagner, the young man from Seattle who helped the FBI track down Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jerseys. Dylan received a personal invitation from Mr. Kraft to attend the home opener.
"I definitely didn’t expect to get a phone call from Robert Kraft. Getting a voicemail from Robert Kraft and saying we’d love to have you come out to the home opener, it’s incredible," Dylan said.
Before going inside to get his pair of sneakers, Mr. Kraft met Dylan face to face for the first time and presented him with a jersey and his tickets to the game.
"This young man, through good information and doing what he did by chance, was so helpful," Mr. Kraft said. "Without him it wouldn’t have happened ... We’re indebted to the young man, and it’s pretty cool that he came out here."
Dylan wasn't the only familiar face in the crowd. Dan Staples, who runs Dan's Balloons in Nashua, N.H., brought a life-size Mr. Kraft made out of balloons -- complete with five balloon Lombardi trophies. The whole thing took more than three hours to make, Dan said.
"It was 45 minutes [working] on that angelic face," Dan said to Mr. Kraft when he stopped by.
"He made me look good. It was funny," Mr. Kraft said afterwards.
The energy was buzzing at the ProShop, and even more so when those in line got their sneakers. This year's Nike RKK Air Force 1 Flyknit has even more detail to celebrate and commemorate Super Bowl LI.
The navy Nike Swoosh is outlined in white and a subtle red, which pays homage to the Patriots Super Bowl LI jerseys. The date of the Super Bowl is etched into one chrome aglet, while the other has five stars representing the five Super Bowl trophies. The shoes also come with removable tongue patches, including "Super Bowl LI," "Do your job" and "5x Champions" patches.
While the sneaker itself is impressive, even more so is that all of the proceeds from its sale benefit The Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. Over the years, the sneakers have raised more than a million dollars.
"I was able to develop a relationship with the CEO of Nike, Mark Parker, who is truly a unique man. He knew I loved to wear sneakers with my suits and tuxedos, and he inscribed a special message [in the box]," Mr. Kraft said. "Think about it. Here’s a company that puts time and energy, and all the money and proceeds go to Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. It’s a true partnership."
The release of the Nike RKK Air Force 1 Flyknit was just the beginning of an exciting day in Patriots Nation. With the newest Super Bowl banner being revealed at the home opener, Mr. Kraft emphasized the role of fans in making days like today even sweeter.
"We built this stadium and we built it one day hoping we would have four banners there. Within 15 years, we didn’t have enough space," Mr. Kraft said. "It’s a great testament to the fan support. The fans have really carried us since the day we bought the team." Read