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News Blitz 6/21: Kraft guides NFL greats in Israel

A roundup of Patriots news

Some breaking news this Wednesday, as the Patriots reportedly have inked veteran LB David Harris, late of the New York Jets. My colleague Paul Perillo has details first reported by ESPN.

Meanwhile, Patriots owner Robert Kraft dedicated a new sports complex in Jerusalem Tuesday, a city very close to his heart. Kraft previously opened an American football stadium there, where an Israeli team plays its home games.

This new facility, called Kraft Family Sports Campus, is for more than just football and covers 25 acres in the Holy City.

"My late, darling wife Myra always used to tell me that until I start building football in Israel, I would not win anything with Patriots," Kraft told a star-studded gathering, as documented by the Jerusalem Post. "That happened in late 1999, and we won our first Super Bowl in 2001. Now we have five championships, and I can't ignore the connection between our continuing to support development in Israel and our great accomplishments."

One of the attendees was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who remarked on his relationship with New England's beloved owner.

"My friendship with Robert was never strained," he maintained, in reference to the DeflateGate saga. "We both understand that we have jobs to do. My respect and admiration for him has never been stronger… Robert is very important to me personally, and also to the entire league." 

The ceremony was part of a Kraft-led tour of Israel for several NFL greats, including Hall of Famers like long-time Steelers RB Jerome Bettis.    

"To have the opportunity to spend some time with Robert Kraft, it was very enlightening," said Bettis, "because I got to see a different side of him, a side that under normal circumstances I would have never seen. I got a chance to talk about everything outside of football. I just got a sense that he's a great man, a great attitude, a great way of life."

Kraft arranged for the players to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well. Bibi, as he's known to his friends, Tweeted a video of the meeting.

"You seek peace, but you've got to be strong," Netanyahu told the players. "If you're not strong, you'll never get peace, and if you're not strong, you'll be in war and turmoil. And the worst thing is, you lose.

"I'm sure that when you prepare for your games, you don't say, 'Well, do I need to be strong, fast, nimble?' Is that a question? No. Your game is not different from ours. The only difference is, if we lose, the consequences are immutable."

Elsewhere, a former Patriots draft choice recently shared some very private details about his life and lifestyle.

"No one is going to assume the big football player is gay," former offensive lineman Ryan O'Callaghan told Outsports. "It's why a football team is such a good place to hide."

He goes on at length about the struggles he endured for many years while trying to conceal his true identity. It's a compelling read.

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