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INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) – Just two days before his team’s sixth Super Bowl appearance under his ownership, Robert Kraft took time on Friday afternoon to sit down with Gresh & Zo on radio row.
Of the many topics discussed, perhaps the most surprising was Kraft’s reaction when he was told that many in the media are picking Eli Manning to outperform Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLVI.
“Please publicize that and let Tommy know,” Kraft told Gresh & Zo. “Keep saying it and saying it as much as you can. Knowing [Brady], then he’ll get that steel ice look. The look that he had on the field before the Denver game [when he threw six touchdowns], that’s the look we want to see in his eye.”
Kraft was also asked about head coach Bill Belichick, who by all accounts has appeared more relaxed and calm over the past couple of weeks than ever before in his Hall of Fame career.
“I think that he realizes that it’s been a while since we’ve been here and won one, and it’s pretty special to be here,” Kraft said of Belichick. “He’s done an outstanding job this year. I think we have 18 undrafted free agents on this team and he’s had to mix a core of veterans with a group of young guys. In the end, it sort of reminds me, and I hope it works out this way, like the ’01 team.”
Kraft was unabashed in his praise for the head coach, even calling him the best of his generation.
“Bill has unique product knowledge. His history of the game, his knowledge of the game is unique. I think he’s the best modern-day coach,” Kraft said. “Because to be a coach in today’s environment you have to understand the salary cap, not only understand talent but understand where a player is at this stage of his career and be able to place a value on that.
Kraft was also deeply touched by all the support he’s gotten this year after losing his wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft, in the summer.
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Kraft also said that camaraderie has helped the team win. He told Gresh & Zo that a week after the team presented him with an oil painting dedicated to Myra’s honor, the Patriots fell behind big to the Bills. Kraft asked that the painting be placed in the locker room for the players to see at halftime, and in the second half, the Patriots shut out the Bills 35-0.
“We have a very special locker room, and you can feel it when you go into it and you see it,” Kraft said. “You know that sometimes the locker room, what happens before you go out on the field means more to your winning than when you actually [take the field].”
The support extends far beyond the locker room, too.
“I pinch myself every day,” he said. “I’m doing something I love. I wish my sweetheart were here to share it with me, but I’ve got four great sons and eight grandchildren. And our fans have been awesome. … It’s done something in our locker room, too, because there’s been a special spirit and emotion. Our fans and players have been super supportive of me personally and my family.”
Gresh & Zo shared some of the tweets fans sent asking them to thank Kraft, which prompted the owner to get emotional.
“They’ve given the support and knowing that our team and what our family tries to represent makes a difference and so cherish the ones you love, don’t take it for granted and be patient,” he said. “Thank you for what you’ve done for our family and supporting us since the day we bought the team and it’s inspired us to try to do everything we can. We look at it as New England is our family and we’ve gotten great support and we thank them.”
When it comes to Sunday’s Super Bowl, Kraft said the Patriots will have Myra in their hearts and in the locker room.
“[The painting will] be in the locker room before they go out on the field to play the Super Bowl,” he said. “We just hope the best.”