FOXBORO (CBS) – New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, speaking from Gillette Stadium on Friday, remembers back to when he first met Tom Brady.
The 22-year-old Brady was just as confident as the 34-year-old version that takes the field every Sunday for the Patriots.
“I still have the image of Tom Brady coming down the old Foxboro stadium steps with that pizza box under his arm, a skinny beanpole, and when he introduced himself to me and said ‘Hi Mr. Kraft,’ he was about to say who he was, but I said ‘I know who you are, you’re Tom Brady. You’re our sixth round draft choice,’” recalled Kraft. “And he looked me in the eye and said ‘I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.’ It looks like he could be right.”
Robert Kraft On Brady:
Brady will be playing in his sixth AFC championship in 11 years on Sunday, as he and the Patriots take on the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette. Brady is gunning for his fifth Super Bowl appearance, and for Kraft, watching him grow from a late draft pick to the super star leader he is today has been a pleasure.
“Watching Tom grow and evolve; from being a single guy in the market place to getting married and going to his wedding, seeing the kind of father is, he’s just a very unusual young man and a great leader,” said Kraft. “He’s matured beautifully and he still kept his humility. I’m really happy that we have him as our quarterback.”
Then again, there was another decision Kraft made back in 2000 that could compete with taking Brady 199th overall that same year.
“Hiring Bill Belichick has also been a pretty good decision, although some of the media beat me up pretty good the first year and a half,” said Kraft, who added that decision has worked itself out over the years.
“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.
Brady and Belichick are a combined 15-5 in the postseason, with 124 regular season wins to their name.
“I hope we have the best quarterback and coach in the history of the game; I guess to prove that we have a little more execution we have to do over the year, and I surely hope we do it,” the Pats owner said.
Tune in to the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens Sunday, January 22 at 3pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Pregame coverage begins with a special two-hour Patriots GameDay on WBZ at 11:00am, with Patriots Preview beginning at noon on the Hub!