On Friday, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft joined WEEI's "The Big Show" to discuss the upcoming Super Bowl XLVI game between his Patriots and the New York Giants. Here is more from Kraft this afternoon, courtesy of our partners at WEEI.
On his decision to trade Drew Bledsoe and his relationship with Bledsoe since: "It goes back to my philosophy of business, how I hire people. Number one is integrity, loyalty and character. Number two is work ethic, hard work ethic. Number three is brains. If you don't have one and two, three doesn't matter. To me, Drew, for the first eight to nine years of this franchise, was really the face of it. When we had all the problems with the coaching and everything, he remained loyal, he was a great representative. You could see when we inducted him into the Hall of Fame, at that game, you could see how the crowd responded to him. He's just a class act. When I invited him...he said he would come. He's the first non-Kraft family member to stay at my home. We stayed at my house and he slept over. We actually stayed up until 2 a.m. I just had such a good time with him.
"That was very hard for me because I had such a warm affection for Drew. And in the end, in long discussions with [Bill] Belichick, I agreed to him being traded conditional to him going to a place where his contract would be honored and he would be paid in full. If I want to hold Bill Belichick at the time accountable, I've got to let him make the key decisions. He knows more about football than I know. I always wanted people smarter than I am around me in everything. Most people in life can do 95 percent, but don't know how to pull the trigger and do the last five percent right. I had to break one of my tenants that hurt me a lot with Drew, but I knew the most important thing for me is winning football games. The low of losing is much greater than the high of winning. Our family is always going to work to put ourselves in the best position to allow this franchise to win. I love the guy, I really do. He considers himself a Patriot."
On taking risks as an organization: "We're in a league that's built to be 8-8 and how do you differentiate? If you do well, you draft at the top and get a tougher schedule. Any team can win one year because of the way the league is set up, which makes it so appealing to fans in every marketplace. But to sustain success, you have to be willing to take risks continuously that other people aren't willing to take."
On lessons learned as owner of the Boston Lobsters of World Team Tennis: "I learned a lot from that, that we had to control our venue. That was key. Owning the Boston Lobsters taught me a lot about dealing with agents and, especially if you're owning a team in your hometown, controlling all the revenue streams. That helped lead me to do what I did."
On being on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week: "It's like my son Danny said - the only time you look at the cover of Sports Illustrated is the swimsuit issue. We're hoping Bar Refaeli should be there. It was a real surprise. For a little kid from Fuller Street in Brookline to wind up on the cover of Sports Illustrated is just pretty cool. It was unexpected, so I don't know what to say other than that."
On Mrs. Kraft's reaction to buying the Patriots for $175 million in 1994: "When we paid that, that was the highest price paid for any sports franchise anywhere in the world. So Myra really thought I had lost my rocks. That was the first time in our marriage she questioned my financial acumen."
On one of his first calls after buying the Patriots: "The first night after I buy the team, noontime the next day we announce it in a press conference and the first call I got was from the Cardinal. I think it's pretty cool a guy from my background getting a call from a Cardinal. He says, ‘Every priest, every nun, everyone in the whole parish is going to be praying for the Patriots every Sunday. Congratulations.'" So I call up [Bill] Parcells and I say, ‘Bill, I've got some news for you, I'm a big shot now' and tell him about the phone call. He said, ‘Let me tell you something. I've got a friend who's a priest in New Jersey and he said the same thing. Say, ‘Father, your prayers will be heard a lot better if the players are bigger and faster.''"
On telling his team of the MHK patches at the beginning of the season: "I'm a great believer in spirituality and karma. Before the season started, I met with the team and I didn't know if I'd break down so I brought Jonathan with me to explain that they'd all be wearing these MHK patches over their heart. I think it's the first time an owner's wife has been honored in that way and it was important to us to dedicate this season in Myra's honor because of the kind of person she was and what she represented. [Pause] I had a chance to say what values were important to her - the mental toughness, the honesty, the sense of teamwork, letting other people get the credit, but doing acts of kindness and being a team player."
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