By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
HOUSTON (CBS) — Robert Kraft said this week that his family and his philanthropy are the most important things in his life. After that, though, it’s all about the New England Patriots.
The season ticket holder-turned-owner of the NFL’s most successful franchise of the 21st century is preparing to watch his team play in the eighth Super Bowl under his ownership, and it’s something that remains remarkable to him.
“We’re so excited,” Kraft said during the team’s final media availability this week. “When I was a fan sitting in the seats in Foxboro, for those of you who don’t know, we only had one home playoff game in 35 years, which we lost in 1978 to the Houston Oilers. I dreamed about owning the team in my hometown and dreamed about championship. Now, to hopefully be in a position to win our fifth, would be off the charts. I never would have dreamed that we would have the continuity and stability that we have. We’re just lucky to have had the confluence of situations where we wind up with the best head coach in the history of the game and the greatest quarterback in the history of the game. Keeping them together and keeping a great team around them, it’s pretty special.”
To be sure, some events over the years have not gone the Patriots’ way. From the David Tyree catch, to the Mario Manningham catch, there have been some painful moments during the dynasty. But from the Tuck Rule through the Malcolm Butler interception, the Patriots have managed to come out on the positive side much more often than any other team.
That’s in large part thanks to the tireless work put in by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady since the turn of the century — something which proves that dedication and a relentless attitude of perseverance can win the war against bad luck.
“It’s amazing. I was just watching [Belichick] out on the media stand on TV, and I know how early he gets up,” Kraft said. “I was thinking how he starts so early in the morning and he goes. He’s out there in practice. He’s doing this. He has unique energy and drive. I haven’t seen him fade at all. It’s sort of like number 12 [Brady]. I just pinch myself with how lucky we are to be in this system.”
On the matter of the employment of the 64-year-old Belichick and 39-year-old Brady, Kraft said he does not want to think about life without those two men running the Patriots.
“I hope not. At least for however long the good lord lets me breathe, I hope they’re playing or coaching,” Kraft said. “It’s been such a treat. Those of us who are fortunate enough to see people in the media, the Hollywood crowd, that on great sports teams there are personalities and egos. To have the drive, they’re very special people. Egos can get in the way. I’m very pleased the way they and really our whole organization and team checks those egos at the front door, no matter how big they are or how important they are. They do what they have to do to put the team in the best position to win.
“I remember when I came into the league originally and I learned that when you have division from within, that’s the biggest enemy that gets in the way of winning. I can really say that these guys put team first all the way. No one gives excuses when things don’t go right. They’re all together as a unit.”
As Kraft has tended to do recently, he made reference to the league’s extreme punishment of the Patriots based on accusations from the Colts … without actually referencing it.
“I think in today’s world we see that communities brand around teams. It can bring a community together in so many positive ways. I hope we can win this,” Kraft said. “I also think it will be a great statement to people who are also pursuing their dreams, that sometimes you get treated unfairly or if things don’t go your way, you just hang in there and keep persevering. It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win on Sunday.”