On Friday afternoon, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft took some time to speak to the news media before his team takes the field for Sunday's AFC Championship game. In the process, he reminded all of us in the New England region that he really is one of the best owners in all of professional sports. He loves his team.
With his Patriots set to take on the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday's AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium, Kraft had some very positive comments about his team as well as his head coach, Bill Belichick.
On Friday, Kraft spoke very highly of the team that he and his family have guided for 18 years. In a season that has seen him help save the NFL from a year long lockout and lose his wife Myra to cancer, Kraft was able to speak from the heart about what the Patriots mean to him.
"The team has been my savior," he said. "[I have] my four sons and eight grandchildren, and this team has been like an extended family, and also past players."
"I'm a great believer in spirituality," he said. "I pinch myself that I have the privilege of owning this franchise. It's such a great group of young men. They've been great to me, really great. Sometimes, a few of them come through and they touch the patch and say 'That one was for mama.' I hope we keep it going."
For this week, Kraft took on the responsibility of having four honorary captains to represent the team on the field in Sunday's AFC Championship game. This week, Kraft chose former Patriots Ty Law, Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi and Drew Bledsoe to represent his team.
The 2011 Patriots have been a somewhat interesting group, a group full of characters in their own way. Kraft seems to find a special chemistry in this group, one he hasn't seen in long while.
"I think it sort of happened midseason. You can see the chemistry in the locker room. It' just a feeling," he said. "If you go to practice, you see the interactions, the little things, the things in the lunch room, the pranks they pull on one another, the groupings of how they interact and talk." (via ESPN Boston)
In addition to his players, Kraft shared the same animosity for his head coach Bill Belichick, labeling him as the greatest coach the league has ever seen.
"I think he'll go down as the greatest coach in the history of the NFL, because he's really competing in the era of the salary cap," Kraft said. "When I bought the team, it was the beginning of the salary cap, and I think a lot of great coaches had difficulty understanding how to balance the economics of the game and the budgets. His product knowledge is so great." (via ESPN Boston)
As for the player view, the same love is returned to Kraft. After being re-acquired last year from the Seattle Seahawks after a four season stint with the Patriots, wide receiver Deion Branch knows exactly how thankful he is for Kraft.
"He knows we truly love him and we're here for him," said Branch. "We'll be trying to go out there (Sunday, in the AFC title game against the Ravens) and try to execute our jobs for him.
"But it's a bigger picture than just playing the game of football. We're thankful he gave us the opportunity to do what we're doing," said Branch.