New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft addresses the media during Super Bowl XLII media day at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 29, 2008.
(on if rewarding fans is part of the fun of being an owner)
"People who aren't fans don't understand one thing. I don't think there is anything like the power of a franchise that can bind and bring a community together. I went to a company that has 5,000 employees up on the North Shore of Boston and they had made it Patriot Day the Friday before we played the Chargers (in the AFC Championship Game). Everyone was dressed in Patriot gear. They all felt a sense of community. Everything today with technology, I don't think there are that many things that bind families and community together. And I think teams do that. When you are privileged to be doing pretty well, like we are doing okay this year, it brings a special feeling and emotion in a community. If you saw how people treat us or treat our players, they are just so enthused and excited about what is going on. And I don't think there a lot of things that bring a community together like that. Look at the political process we are going through now. It is so divisive and it is rancorous. I remember after we won our first Super Bowl we had a million and a half people come to the streets of Boston; a city of 600,000 people. And it was people from all walks of life, whether it was money managers, factory workers, people of all genders, all skin colors, all religions, all coming together to celebrate the team. It is pretty special."
(on how it feels to be back in the Super Bowl again)
"People have asked that. It doesn't get old. Every time we come it is almost like our post-game party; we plan it like we might not be here ever again. It is very special. Actually each trip is sort of like a different child. Those of us who are blessed to have more than one child know that each child is special and unique. This trip is pretty special coming here 18-0 and doing something that we wouldn't have believed would be possible in today's modern age. It is pretty special."
*(on what it would take for him to vote for a future Super Bowl for the Phoenix area)
*"I am going to make believe I'm wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt (laughing). We are focused on Sunday. We haven't experienced it completely yet so I think after we go through the week here we will be in a better position to answer that."
(on his thoughts on an owner sticking with a head coach like Tom Coughlin despite outside pressure to make a change)
"Well my coach, I took a lot of heat when I hired him and gave up a number one draft choice and he went 5-11 his first year and then 1-3 his second year, so we were 6-14. I can just tell you that my support for him never wavered. I have always believed in him and that he knew what he was doing. There are so many factors that impact a team's ability to win and coaching of course is critical. But there are so many other things that go on with injuries. If you feel that you have a good leader, that continuity is very important in this business. I think if you look at the teams, and I have studied this business very hard once I got into it and who the people were that were successful. I think if you can keep your group together, continuity is so important in this. Just like this game for us. It is a big advantage that we have been here I think in the past. We have procedures and manuals that we follow on how we do things. You can only do that by having continuity. If you change your personnel or your people, it is kind of hard because there are a lot of nuances in this business; there is no business like the business of professional football. To be good at it, I think you need continuity."
*(on which organizations he used as models when he first started in the National Football League)
*"I think Pittsburgh and San Francisco when I came in during the early 90's. Those were two franchises that met with a lot of success and I try to learn from how they did things and what they did. This is not nuclear science and we are not curing cancer. And I say that with respect. I think sometimes people make this more complicated; it is just basic business. I know when I started running this the same way I run our other businesses is when we started to have a modicum of success."
(on how often he talks to Ernie Adams)
"I talk to Ernie. Ernie is a very high-quality, special part of our organization and someone I enjoy talking to."
(on if he talks to Adams about things other than football)
"Yes. He is a very wise investor; he reads a lot. He is very intelligent. We talk politics and economics."
*(on if he remembers his section, row and seat as a season-ticket holder)
*"Yes. 217, Row 25, Seats 1-6."
(on if starting out as a season-ticket holder would be the definition of learning from the ground up)
"Yes. I was thinking of this weather and what it might be like Sunday night, although you don't have metal benches here. Our seats were right between the goal line and the five (yard line). We had metal benches. The second half of November and December, your tush would stick to the metal benches there. It was really cold. I think we have a chance of that coming this Sunday night."
(on if he is a better owner from the experience of being a fan first)
"I hope so. I know what the fans want and expect. But I also know that you have to be very patient in this business. And like anything else, have a vision of what you think is correct, try to get great people to help support that and then stay with it."
(on if he gave any consideration to the fact that Bill Belichick was not a great communicator when he hired him)
"When I was thinking of hiring Bill, I know a lot of people thought that I was making an error and they based it on how he dealt with the media and they sent me tapes from his experience in Cleveland. But in the end, I am into substance; I am not into lipstick and powder. When I spent time with Bill in 1996 when he was on our staff, I found him to be someone I could relate to who I felt good about. Maybe part of it was his training in college in economics, but to be good in the business of football today, and good to me is not being good one year but try to sustain it year in and year out, you have to understand economics and you have to understand value and you have to understand the salary cap and how it works and know that if you make bad decisions, you will be penalized for many, not just quarters. I am trying to put it in Wall Street terms. You know how management is thrown out when they don't do well; you have the same thing here. What you have to guard against is if you have a management team with a short term focus, they'll do whatever they have to do to win in the short term and maybe cripple your cap in the long term. If they leave or get fired, you are in deep trouble. I think every discussion I had with Bill he understood value and players and how they fit under the cap. And if we've had any success, I think a great part of it is his judgment in knowing players and how they fit in a system in the salary cap era."
*(on if the same principles for a successful business apply to a successful football team)
*"It is the same principles. It is having a vision for what is right for your organization. Every organization is different in how it runs. Then picking good people. Whether it is picking your life partner or partners in business, it is the same principles. What works for me might not work for other people. In the business of professional football, having trust between ownership, the head coach, their personnel people is very important. What works for me might not work for someone else. The style I bring to manage is different than someone else."
(on how does he strike a balance between being a fan and being a businessman)
"I think when I came in, I was probably more of a fan and I probably did things that broke some of my cardinal rules of business. I think maybe I might have been governed by friends in the media. I think I might have been governed by what I thought was the right short-term solution. Every business we are involved in we think long term. Thinking long term means you are making tough decisions that people are going to criticize you (for) in the short term. You can't let the media or fans or people who don't know what you know, and with all due respect; I mean, it's like when I started really seeing film and seeing Belichick put something up and explain it, I realized how we don't have a clue as fans. We have no clue. Fans and with all due respect, many members of the media, are making judgments on issues that they don't have all of the facts. It is like any other business; you try to find people that you respect that they know what you are doing that's in keeping with your values. And then you give them the autonomy. And when things don't go well, you don't buckle. You make sure that it runs its course."
(on if he is more heart or more head when it comes to his ownership style)
"I don't know. I'll let you judge that. I want to win. I think it is a combination of heart and head. There are no fast rules; it's judgment. Certain things come up. How you handle adversity probably helps more to define whether you will win and whether you will have something that is together more than probably anything else. Because the easy times and the good times are pretty simple for everyone to handle. It is when the pressure is on and difficult things happen. That is when you know whether you have something special."
*(on his relationship with Wellington Mara)
*"He was terrific. He was always there to answer any question. When you are from New England, you respect family, you respect traditions and, of course, the Mara family represents both of those qualities. I was a New York Giant fan before the Patriots were created. I used to watch Y.A. Tiddle, (Jim) Katcavage, Frank Gifford and (Len) Modzeleski. I remember watching Jimmy Brown have a great game against the Giants, watching it up in Boston. And when the Patriots were founded, I became a Patriots fan. But there was always a little residual special feeling towards the Giants. But not this week at all."
*(on what the week was like earlier in the season following the "Spygate" situation and how it affected his relationship with Belichick)
*"We had just won a great game and that was not my first choice of what would happen. I think we covered that pretty well. I am not sure all of the facts are out on that. We all know that it had no impact on any game this season. We have moved on from it. But it did do one thing: I think in a way it helped solidify the relationship that Bill and I have developed. And it has evolved because we did stand together and he explained it to me and he had my full support."
(on when he knew he had something special with the sustained success that the Patriots have had)
"I am not sure. We could have lost four or five games near the end of the year this year. There is a lot of good fortune that comes into it. We have tried to just stay with it. Let's see what happens Sunday and then we will be able to answer that question."
(on what made him comfortable with the decision to bring in WR Randy Moss)
"I met with him personally. Bill and I had a discussion and he told me how he felt and I told him I wanted to have an opportunity to meet with him and talk with him and I did. I spoke with him for an hour the morning of the trade before we signed the contract. We had a good heart-to-heart and I found him to be someone who looked me straight in the eye. He is very intelligent in my opinion. He told me he just wanted to come and win and it wasn't about the money, and you know he took a big pay cut to come to us. And a lot of players say that it is not about the money, it is about respect; but it's about the money. In his case, he came to us and wanted to be part of a team that could win and he said to me, 'Mr. Kraft, I have made a lot of money, more money probably than I need. This is about winning.' He's lived up to every commitment that he has made and he also treats people very well in the organization. Everything that I've seen he has conducted himself very well."