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Kraft discusses schedule, role at annual meeting

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PHOENIX – The locales are always sunny and exotic – New Orleans, Fort Lauderdale, now Phoenix – but Patriots owner Robert Kraft doesn't always get to enjoy them that much when he attends the NFL's Annual Meetings. He is such an influential owner among his peers, he sits on several committee that decide important issues for the league as a whole.

This year, though, is a little different.

"We pack a lot in, but actually, this year, things are pretty quiet and uneventful. So, we're just doing routine business and the things that allow us to function," he explained during a midday break in the proceedings here at the lush Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.

"This is probably one of the most satisfying years – except for us getting knocked out of going to the Super Bowl – it's been a pretty good year."

The team that knocked his Patriots out of the playoffs this past January – the Baltimore Ravens – wound up being the Super Bowl champions. Traditionally, the winner hosts the first game of the season on a Thursday night following Labor Day.

However, the Ravens' neighbors, Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles, are also scheduled to play at home that same night, which poses a conflict for municipal officials to host two professional sporting events simultaneously. One side would have to yield to the other.

"I know that Commissioner Goodell is trying to get [the Orioles] to move their game up so the Ravens fans can host their team opening the season," Kraft revealed. "But right now, I don't think the baseball team there has been willing to change the time of the game."

That means the Ravens would still open the season, but in all likelihood, on the road. If a deal can be struck to allow the Ravens to host the NFL's season opener, Kraft believes their opponent will be his Patriots in a rematch of the 2012 and 2011 AFC Championship Games.

"I'd be surprised if we're not the opening opponent for Baltimore on Thursday night," he predicted.

"It would be so exciting for our organization, our fans, if we could open up there," Kraft paused, smiling, before adding, "and hopefully have the right result this time."

Working out the 2013 NFL schedule is among the agenda items during the annual meeting. Traditionally, the prime time games on kickoff weekend are announced at this gathering. The full slate of games, dates, and times will be revealed, as always, in early-to-mid-April.

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