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Robert Kraft Interview Transcript

Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft addresses the media at Patriots media day at Lucas Oil Stadium on Tuesday, January 31, 2012.

(on the season being dedicated to his late wife Myra Kraft and how it feels to be in the Super Bowl) "It's been a tough year. I believe in spirituality and this team has really saved me personally. Fifty-three guys have bonded together and have been like sons to me. You think in this world, where athletes can be so narcissistic in so many ways, they planned an oil painting to be in our locker room on Sunday with my wife's initials and the players dedicating the season to my wife. But the fact that they can relate to that and plan that six to eight weeks in advance. That had meant something to them so it had been very fulfilling."

(on the Patriots embracing the Kraft family this season) "People use the word "family." In a family, you don't cut players. The unfortunate part is that you can't keep everyone that you want. We try to differentiate by creating a family environment. People there know that I love my wife dearly. They knew she was the real deal. They felt my pain and they have tried to comfort me. In a way it's created a unique bond in the locker room. I believe in spirituality and I think many of the players do. I just think she's been with us and she's smiling with us."

(on the run to the Super Bowl being more special due to the team embracing the Kraft family) "(The team) saved me. I never understood what the word heartbroken meant. It's hard for anyone to relate to it. My wife was 19 and I was 20 when she proposed to me. We had five kids right away. Then they left and we became best pals for 25 years. She was 98 pounds, read four books a week and was healthy. I thought she would outlive me for 30 years. This horrible cancer came and it's wrecked my life. Having this team has been a savior for me."

(on the team's return to England next season) "First of all, we're very excited to come to London. I'm told we're the number one team in London. Our name is the New England Patriots and the Patriots are going back home. I think there is a tie in that. They asked me if we'd be willing to do that and our players and coaches loved being there. It's a great bonding experience for the team traveling there. We look forward to playing there at the end of October next year."

(on his message to the fans of London regarding the Patriots return for a second time) "We have a great Patriots fan club in the United Kingdom whose fans come over once a year and I get them tickets. One of my best friends in the world lives in England. His name happens to be Sir Elton John. He's excited that we're coming back. We hope to have a lot of fun there."

(on the next time he will visit Russia with his Super Bowl ring) "As you know, the last time I was in Russia, I had the pleasure of meeting your President. We had just given our Super Bowl ring out and I showed it to him. He liked it a lot. In an act of friendship and respect to the people of Russia and the President, we gave him that ring. I'm glad he's a Patriot fan and he's a good guy to have on your side."

(on how he feels about having his team in the Super Bowl especially regarding his hard work in the CBA negotiations this offseason) "It was wonderful. There was a whole committee that worked hard. John Mara, the owner of the Giants, worked hard too. I developed a new friend in Jeff Saturday. I never thought I would grow to love and respect the guys who Peyton Manning put his hands on his tush every day. The players were lucky to have him representing him at the union table. He's a very capable man."

(on his feelings during the negotiating periods this offseason) "It was a tough time in my life because my sweetheart was ill with cancer. I didn't do anything for four and a half months. She knew how important this game is to America and she gave me more credit in my ability to help negotiate things. She thought I was better than maybe I really was. That's the only thing I ever left her side for. When things got a little cuckoo with the lawyers, I wasn't going to waste my time. I think the players and (NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice) Smith understood that. I hope in a small way that helped us to get a resolution. Jeff (Saturday) was very kind to give me that hug right after she passed away. All of the players in the NFL should be indebted to him and Smith. They have a 10-year agreement and we promised them that if they did a 10-year agreement that we would make sure they had a good deal. We went out and did these media deals afterwards and there will be stability in the NFL for the next 11 years. He should feel good about it."

(on his message to the team) "There is a special bond on this team. Our locker room is a special place. You can feel it. Even before we came out on the field, there is a camaraderie bond that is special. Part of it is that I'm a believer in spirituality. I think in some ways our players have to execute. We have very high-quality people on this team and I'm hoping that it all comes together on Sunday."

(on why this season means more to him emotionally than other seasons) "I never understood what it meant to lose someone who you had great respect for. (Myra Kraft) was the greatest person in my life. It's hard to understand what losing some (means) unless you've gone through it. She was my best pal. It's hard for anyone to understand the heartache unless they've gone through it themselves. The fact that I'm privileged to own an NFL team in my hometown - these 53 guys have been my savior. They have been respectful to me. They presented me with an oil painting when we clinched the bye. I don't know what's going to happen after Sunday, but they have sure kept me busy every night right through now."

(on his prediction for Sunday's game) "It's going to be a great game. I'll tell you this: I think it has the potential to be the most watched program in the history of all television. I really believe that."

(on what he has told the team) "First of all, the fans in Boston were so great. We had 25,000 people show up at the stadium. That's probably the most emotional sendoff we've ever had. The fans love this team, as I do. We have a group of players that are really special."

(on how special this team is compared to ones in the past) "This team is very special to me. There isn't one person on this team I wouldn't have at my dinner table. They've shown me, personally, great love, respect and support. They helped me get through the hardest period of my life."

(on how gratifying it is to be in the Super Bowl considering the preseason talk about other teams that would overtake the division) "To tell you the truth, I think there are 32 teams every year that have a chance to go to the (Super Bowl). I don't think about other teams because I know how hard it is to get to this game. This team who is playing this Sunday might not be our best team that we've had in the last 18 years. There are a lot of things that can go different ways. I never root against any other team. I only care about our team and I'm excited that we're in this game."

(on constantly battling Peyton Manning and how weird it is to try and beat Eli Manning instead for a second time) "We're in Peyton Manning's locker room. I have great respect for the Mannings. As a matter of fact, my grandson, Harry, goes to their football camp that they teach at. He's a quarterback. The Manning family represents what's best about America and football. We're proud to compete with them. But, I'm pretty proud to have Tom Brady as our quarterback and there is no one I'd prefer to have more than Tom Brady."

(on what he did to make the Patriots a dominant force in the NFL) "You get good people with you, you set the tone, and you encourage them to be bold and take risks. When they take risks that are in the best interests of the team and they don't work out, you back them."

(on what Bill Belichick and what he's meant to the Patriots) "I think we're lucky to have the finest coach in the history of the modern game, especially with the salary cap. I'd also like to think that we've developed a system in our company where we've supported him and supported his strength. In the end in the NFL, what happens often is division from within. Our job is to always get everyone on the same page and do the best we can."

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