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Robert Kraft Interview - 6/10/2009

Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft addresses the media and discusses the enshrinement of fullback Jim Nance into the team's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, June 10, 2009.

RKK:So it's pretty cool. We have our new inductee into the Hall. I remember seeing Jim Nance play for the Patriots. It's amazing to me that he still holds some of the records for running back, but I also saw him - he used to go to the high school wrestling tournaments. I guess he was an All-American wrestler at Syracuse and won two heavy weight titles, so I have an image of him sitting there watching those tournaments. Him and Jimmy Brown both went to Syracuse and were great athletes, one in lacrosse and one wrestling.

Q:Do you think what you're doing with the Hall and this whole thing is getting some traction?

RKK:We have had people…I think the only state of the 49 states that we have not had visitors from is South Dakota. [South Dakota] is the only state. They are looking to get some kind of incentive prize for the first South Dakotan who shows a license there and I think it's about 13 foreign countries. It's funny I was touring there a couple of days ago and there were people there from Knoxville, Tennessee who were big Patriots fans down there, so it was pretty cool. You can spend a lot of time there. I had my high school reunion down here for lunch on Saturday. People came from all over the country. We scheduled it for a few hours and most of them stayed for five hours, so we are pretty proud of the Hall at Patriot Place.

Q:Have any other teams come up to you and said we would like to look at what you've done here?

RKK:Yes. Two teams are trying to copy what we've done here to try to get the history. You know, I love the Green Bay Hall of Fame and we tried to find a way to make it even more special than that. We're pretty proud of what we have here and all of Patriot Place. It's just getting the word out and letting people know it's here. We're also very excited about kicking off our 50th season. When you think about it, just this morning I toured the GE plant in Lynn and must of shook about 2000 hands. There was a young lady who was an original cheerleader on the Patriots in the early 60's. People have gone to Fenway Park and all of the venues and to think that we are starting our 50th season here, opening up on a Monday night where Monday Night Football is celebrating its 40th season, it's pretty cool. New England is about tradition and history and we hope we give you all a good season this year.

Q:What does it mean to have Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork out there?

RKK:Team has always been first here. Tom Brady is a great leader. He not only hits a golf ball long and straight...By the way, on that long drive contest, I did find out that he used the practice balls and 54 [Tedy Bruschi] was using a regular ball. He [Brady] doesn't like to lose. He kept reminding me the whole round of that, but he's moving so beautifully and throwing so beautifully. And Vince Wilfork is a great guy. Every year we have these business issues that have to get worked out and one way or another they will get worked out, and hopefully Vince will be here for a long time.

Q:Have things gotten any closer on that regard - any movement?

RKK:I leave all the heavy lifting to our football people. They are much better at it then I am. Like I said, I haven't been here all morning.

Q:Have you spoken to Vince?

RKK:Yes. Vince and I have a great relationship. We chatted at the golf tournament Monday. We both understand this is not personal in any way. It's each side doing their business and one way or another I'm sure things will get resolved.

Q:How difficult is it for young players to realize this is business and it's not personal?

RKK:It's hard on both sides because look, we are blessed to have a lot of good players on this team. Unfortunately, the nature of the business if you want to win every year and put yourself in a position to be able to win every year, you need to make decisions and prioritize. There is a limited amount of money we can spend, so we are always trying to balance that and keep a team together and put ourselves in the best position to win.

Q:How fortunate do you feel, it seems like it never gets ugly here. The players respect your position as management and Bill [Belichick's] position as management, come out and still do their job?

RKK:It's a credit to our coaching staff, our personnel and the kind of players that come into the system and are respectful. It's complicated stuff though. In the end, we are always trying to put ourselves in the best position to win football games. Whether it's [on] the field or any decision we make, winning is always what comes first.

Q:Is this a good sign for Vince and the Patriots?

RKK:I think so. Vince is a very special guy. While touring the GE plant in Lynn the question that kept coming up was, 'We're not going to let Vince get out of here are we?' So he has a lot of fans in this region and we all realize how special he is.

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