BOSTON (CBS) — There is no single athlete in the history of Boston sports more directly connected to the financial success of his franchise then the drastically underpaid Tom Brady.
Consider this: In 1994, Robert Kraft purchased the New England Patriots for &172 million, and people thought he was out of his mind (including his late wife, Myra).
The franchise is now worth nearly $2 billion according to Forbes and is by many the standard bearer for all other franchises by which to measure themselves against.
How did they get here?
Robert Kraft and his family have been the best owners a fan could ask for and have earned our gratitude.
Drew Bledsoe and Bill Parcells were instrumental in taking the team from the worst franchise in the NFL to a Super Bowl appearance and NFL relevancy.
Coach Bill Belichick is a modern day Vince Lombardi and has earned his spot in Canton due to his performance in New England, but none of that would be possible without the man to whom this column is dedicated, Tom Brady.
His resume for bringing the franchise to unforeseen financial heights begins with his historic record in the postseason.
What most owners will not tell their fans is that while home-field advantage in the playoffs benefits their team on the field, its real value is in the additional gate, concessions and parking it pads their pockets with.
I said that to say this: Before Tom took over for Drew Bledsoe the franchise had hosted four (yes — four) home playoff games in Foxboro in the team’s less-than-illustrious history.
Since Brady became the team’s single-caller, they have hosted 14.
I will repeat that.
In the 41 years pre-TB, they hosted four playoff games. In the 12 years of TB, they have hosted 14.
While Bill Parcells and Drew Bledsoe deserve credit for bringing the team out of the toilet in the mid-to-late ’90s, thereby enabling Robert Kraft to privately fund a beautiful new stadium, consider the marketplace as Gillette was nearing its completion.
When Tom Brady took over late in the second game of the 2001 season, the Patriots were on their way to an 0-2 start. Fans were calling for Belichick’s head as his record as the Pats head coach was soon to be 5-13.
As Drew Bledsoe was bleeding internally on the sideline after suffering a brutal hit by Mo Lewis, the twin towers were still smoldering and the owners had thousands of club seats to sell in order to get out from under the massive investment they made in their new state-of-the-art stadium set to open the next season.
All Brady would do is lead the team to an 11-3 record, garnering a playoff bye and leading the franchise to its first Super Bowl championship.
The title led to the brand new stadium’s opening night to simultaneously be a banner-raising event. Gillette Stadium has not had an empty seat in its history.
The greatness of Brady’s play on the field is only matched by his humility off it.
While his greatest rival Peyton Manning has put far more focus on winning the contract battle, often at the detriment of the talent of players around him, Tom has subjugated his own ego for the betterment of his other 52 teammates.
People like to point out the ease with which Brady can continually take less then market deals due to his near billion dollar wife. I choose to focus on the billion dollars he has made the Kraft family and wonder when he can get a piece of that.