Patriots owner Robert Kraft just concluded a tour of the new Putnam Investments Club at Gillette Stadium with that Boston-based company's CEO, Robert Reynolds. The newly refurbished club (formerly the Fidelity Investments Clubhouse) offers several new aesthetic features beginning this season, most notably increased space and better sight lines for patrons on game days and at functions throughout the year.
Kraft and Reynolds, as was evident in their photo op, are old friends. In fact, Kraft nominated Reynolds (who was with Fidelity at the time) to become NFL Commissioner back in 2006 when Paul Tagliabue retired from the position.
Following the tour, Kraft answered reporters' questions for several minutes, on topics ranging from the new club to the impact of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene on the region and the Patriots in particular.
While much of Foxborough and surrounding Massachusetts communities are still without power, the electricity was restored to Gillette late Monday night, just in time for tonight's annual Kickoff Gala and Thursday night's preseason finale against the New York Giants.
Kraft revealed that, had the power not been restored soon enough, he thought there might be a chance that the game would be moved to New York's newly-named MetLife Stadium (formerly New Meadowlands Stadium).
Looking ahead to the start of the regular season, Kraft said he was more excited about this year than any he can remember, mostly because of the threat to it caused by the offseason lockout. While he says it's too soon to tell what kind of team the Patriots are forming, Kraft did share his thoughts on two new acquisitions: Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth.
"Both … are a lot different than the media has portrayed them. [Ochocinco] is very self-contained, works very hard, and I know wants to do well. He and [quarterback Tom] Brady seem to have a great rapport.
"Albert Haynesworth," he continued, "has been a gentleman. I don't know if you've heard him speak. He's not that image of … that mean face … I mean, I hope he is mean during the game," Kraft joked. "Everything I've seen, he's a likeable fellow. I hope both of them make great contributions."
Asked what excites him the most about the upcoming season, Kraft cited the combination of established veterans and developing younger players – in particular, safety Patrick Chung – who could, as he put it, "come into their own this year."
One other factor adding to his excitement: fantasy football. Kraft revealed that he's playing the popular rotisserie game this year with his grandchildren.
"Actually, I shouldn't be saying this," he laughed, "because I don't even know if I'm allowed to play.
"I'm an advisor in the background," he stressed, smiling.