Do you have to go to work, or do you get to go to work?
See, I love details. I even love the word itself. It possesses so few syllables, yet, packs such a wallop of meaning. Now, I’m not going to embark on a diatribe about loving what you do, and spill lines about making every moment count, I’m not Jack Dawson, but how you feel about your job is a substantial cog in the meaning of life.
Owning a sports team would be a “get to do”, type of job. For instance, you may disagree, but it would be neat to shadow Theo Epstein up in Wrigleyville for a few days. That dude knows how to slay Bambinos and Billy Goats. No, you’re not allowed to use that as a book title.
NFL owners run a broad spectrum of involvement. Jerry Jones is one of the most polarizing owners in the history of sports due to his intense, hands-on, borderline micro management approach. Owners like that are not seen as being in the business for the wrong reasons, like an episode of The Bachelor. It’s plain to see that owners like Jones consider profit and publicity as their primary objectives, over team and fan base satisfaction.
Then you have Robert Kraft, professional business-fan. The Brookline, Mass native bought the Patriots in 1994, and today, in 2017, you must wait for him to take off five Super Bowl rings if you get stuck behind him at TSA airport security. There is no direct, scientific correlation between being from the town where you own a sports team, or being a fan of said team, but there damn well should be, because the results are staggering.
Kraft is instrumental is helping to meticulously construct a winning team that stays a winning team. Each piece of the puzzle needs fit perfectly so the picture comes in to focus. A team can have all the talent in the world, but it takes a whole organization, believing in a common philosophy.
The Patriots head maestro stays cognizant of the fact that, superstars don’t win championships and hang banners, teams do. And if you’re going to have a top tier team, you’ve got to be willing to build. As with the construction of any stable facility, patience is a virtue. Thinking like a fan, and being able to go out and draft efficiently to assemble a team that adheres to a singular mindset.
For Kraft, that philosophy is centered around a blue-collar attitude from players and coaches, to understand that nothing is given or awarded to you just because you’ve enjoyed success in the past. From Gronk to Belichick, to the outstretched arm of James White through a host of Falcon defenders, success is always attained through determination.
That really extends to everything in life, but it rings true in a sport which demands so much from its participants, both physically and emotionally. Deflategate is bookended, and mercifully in our collective past, and Kraft felt the same catharsis as the rest of Patriot Nation, after the team turned what appeared to be a Falcons Super Bowl L1 route, into a heroic comeback for the ages.
It behooves me to say that The New Yorker is a relatively esteemed publication. Well, they recently ran a piece about Kraft, the contents of which focused on Kraft’s steady-handed nature. When you are one to contemplate, the undulations endured by this franchise in recent memory, that speaks to a unique kind of resolve.
Kraft was, as one in his position would tend to be, outspoken in regards to how the league handled Deflategate, stating: “it was messed up badly.” After New England won the damn thing, he cemented his firm stance by iterating that, “jealousy and envy are incurable diseases.” I don’t speak for all the fans of the pro football world, but the ones I speak with echo that exact sentiment. The Brady saga became such a war of attrition, that even the team’s brass got sick of it, and it shows.
But then, things started to escalate, almost in a supernatural type of way. I’m talkin’ some serious X Files business. Brady’s Super Bowl game jersey went MIA. Then, a handful of Pats took a political stand in stating they would not be appearing at the White House to meet the nation’s forty-fifth president. So, despite his alignments, Kraft had to show his support for his players over personal beliefs. Number 12’s jersey still hasn’t turned up, but you can bet Kraft is on the case.
I’d like to call to the stand, the elephant in the room. Yes, Tom Brady will eventually have to retire, moving on to film a “This is Sportscenter” commercial with Peyton Manning, probably. But in speaking with the folks on British radio station talkSPORT, Kraft seemed at peace with whatever Brady decides to do moving forward to next season and beyond. In limited action, Jimmy Garoppolo managed the signal-calling with great aplomb.
Suffice it to say, this stuff matters to Kraft. Boy does it ever. Need more evidence? Go ahead and check out his interview with Chris Wallace. Or, you can just look for his reaction shots after Amendola hauls in a tiptoe TD grab. I mean, why buy a sports team if you’re not going to cheer once in a while?