PHOENIX – With his team's hour-long window of interview opportunity dwindling at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day, New England's Robert Kraft quietly slipped into the US Airways Center. It wasn't long, though, before he was spotted and descended on by a large crowd of curious reporters armed with microphones, cameras, and questions.
He was, not surprisingly, asked early and often to elaborate on his brief but strong statement Monday night supporting his players, coaches, and staff in the wake of the deflated football controversy.
Repeatedly, Kraft said he would let his Monday remarks speak for themselves, but he did, at one point, go into a bit more detail, revealing that he has not yet spoken with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about the league's on-going investigation.
Kraft was eager to respond when asked what he would say to Patriots fans who've been beleaguered by the DeflateGate story that just won't go away.
Check out photos from Patriots Media Day at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona during on Tuesday, January 27, 2015.
"I'm one of them," he began. "And part of what I did yesterday – I'm a fan at heart – part of the reason I bought the team was I thought, 'If I could run it, I could do things differently.' I want to enjoy this [Super Bowl], and I want to make things clear how we do things. I believe in my guys. We're going to have a fun time the rest of this week and have a great game Sunday.
"I really believe it's the two best teams in the NFL playing. So, that also is special because it's great for all the fans of the NFL. But the reason I did what I did yesterday is so I and all our fans can enjoy this game.
"No matter what team you're with, there are going to be a lot of things that happen that you never planned on, and how you react and work together really is the key. This business is very hard, can be cruel at times… and it's like family, a marriage, your girlfriend. It's important to be together on the same page even when you might have minor disagreements. We at the top of the Patriots – my family and our key people – are all one. That was the message I tried to express yesterday."
Moving on to the game itself, Kraft spoke at length about the relationship he has with his current head coach and the one who preceded him, who happens to be on the other sideline this week. Kraft hired Pete Carroll in 1997 after Bill Parcells left to coach the New York Jets, but after just three seasons, let Carroll go and brought in Bill Belichick.
"When I hired Pete, I was coming off my first experience as an owner," recalled Kraft. "He's pretty special to be around. He's a lot of fun. He's not your typical head coach in the NFL. He's also smart. I think coming off the situation I'd been in, although I had a great coach [in Parcells], I believed in more checks and balances like my other businesses. And I think I probably handicapped Pete from doing as good a job as he could have done, because I was coming off a situation where I was reacting.
Carroll, during his Media Day remarks, called Kraft a "good partner" when he worked for the Patriots, but also remembers him as the guy who "cut him loose."
"We've maintained, over the years, a very respectful relationship," Carroll acknowledged. "He's done a remarkable job, running one of the most successful franchises in the history of professional sports."
"My evolution as an owner," added Kraft, "was trying to understand how to be a good owner and run a franchise. Having Bill Belichick as my head coach… I don't think I could have a better one."
After one of the more trying weeks in team history, Kraft stressed how much his Patriots mean to him.
"After my family, my team is my passion. I love being around the guys. There's not one guy in that locker room that I wouldn't be pleased to have at our dinner table. They're great guys and I can relate to all of them.
"That's just fun for me. I would pay to do it," he declared.
Pausing for a beat, Kraft laughed, "I guess I am!"