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Patriots owner Robert Kraft leads Hall of Fame trip to Israel

New England owner brings former NFL stars to see budding football program in the Holy Land.

Nineteen members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will embark on a week-long tour of Israel in a historic trip called "Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence", sponsored by Robert Kraft. Check out photos from the trip.

Robert Kraft is clearly the foundation of football in Patriots Nation.

And though many fans may not be aware of it, the New England owner is very much the foundation of football a half a world away as the sport strives to take route in Israel.

In an attempt to continue to grow the sport in that country Kraft is generously leading a trip this week to Israel bringing 19 Pro Football Hall of Famers with him to the Holy Land, with the group having left Logan Airport this past Tuesday and touching down in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

The trip, called "Touchdown In Israel: Mission of Excellence," will give some of the greatest players to ever play the game the opportunity to see the growth of football in Israel as well as experience one of the most historic lands on earth.

Beyond Kraft, the travel party also includes Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer. The list of Hall of Famers ranges from former Patriots such as linebacker Andre Tippett, guard John Hannah and cornerback Mike Haynes to the likes of NFL legends Curtis Martin, Raymond Berry, Tim Brown, Thurman Thomas and others.

During the week in Israel, Kraft, Dermer and the Hall of Famers will meet with members of the local football league. The group will attend a scrimmage for the new Israel national football team and then enjoy a football celebration with players and fans over at the Kraft Family Stadium, which has been a hotbed of American football since it opened in 1999.

"This is remarkable," Avi Eastman, head coach of the Israel Football League's Judean Rebels, told The Times of Israel.

Eastman grew up in the U.S., in Kansas City, and now has three sons that play in Israel.

"These are some of the same guys I used to cheer and boo as a kid," Eastman raved.

The scrimmage is a chance for the new Israeli national tackle team to get some practice in leading up to its first official game in Spain at the end of the summer. In addition to Kraft, Dermer and the Hall of Fame players, the scrimmage will take place in front of Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker and American Football in Israel President Steve Leibowitz.

Tippett, Hannah, Haynes and the rest of the Hall of Famers will share tips and stories with the Israeli players and fans, while also posing for photos.

It's a once-in-a-lifetime trip for the Americans as well a unique opportunity for the budding Israeli players and their fans.

It's also just the latest example Kraft's dedication and contributions to the game of football – literally all over the world.

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