By: Jacob Walters
Sports owners have the hardest job to do. They run an entire organization from head to toe, making executive decisions on the operations of said organization and hiring people to help create a winning vision. One owner has developed a sterling reputation with numerous colleagues in NFL circles. That owner has even started a sports renaissance in Boston, making it a premier sports city. Even President Obama called him “the coolest owner in all of sports!” His name is Robert Kraft.
Born on June 5, 1941 in Brookline, MA, Kraft has gained his fortune from the Rand-Whitney Group, a packaging company based in Worcester, and starting International Forest Products, a trader of physical paper products. Kraft has also invested in various companies, including New England Television Corp. Kraft, an avid New England Patriots fan and season ticket holder since 1971, bought the franchise in 1994 for $172 million (the Patriots are worth $3.7 billion today). The Patriots nearly moved to cities like Jacksonville and Baltimore before Kraft bought the team.
Let’s begin with the basics as to why Kraft is obviously the best owner in sports. A record of 291-125 to go with a playoff record of 33-15. 23 winning seasons and 19 playoff appearances during Kraft’s 26-year tenure. Six Super Bowls. The diamonds in the rough Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Kraft’s excellent record of 125-35 in the 2010s decade. Ever since Kraft bought the team in 1994, the Patriots have sold out every home game. That includes the regular season, playoffs, and even pre-season! Numerous football pundits, including Jeff Saturday, have credited Kraft as the “man who saved football”.
The jaw dropping numbers don’t stop there, though. Kraft’s Patriots have had double digit wins in each season since 2002 and have not had a losing season since 2000. In 2007, the Patriots went 16-0, taking their undefeated run to the Super Bowl that year. Kraft has also implemented a team-first philosophy that has contributed to the Patriots’ recent dynasty run. When your star quarterback renegotiates his contract to take a pay cut for the sake of the team, you know you have an owner who knows what he’s doing. In fact, the Patriots will rank in the top five for the most cap space after 2020, because that’s what excellent owners and general managers do. Did you know that Kraft built a privately funded stadium in the NFL? Kraft paid $325 million in 2000 to build the stadium in Foxborough! That includes parking, facility, and land fees as well.
Kraft’s success isn’t mutually exclusive to football, though. Kraft has started up numerous philanthropic causes, many of which are geared toward Jewish causes and Israel. This includes supporting American Football Israel (Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem and the Kraft Family Israel Football League), donating $11.5 million to construct the Columbia Hillel at the University of Columbia (Kraft’s alma mater), and building the first ever regulation size American football field in Israel in 2017 for $6 million).
Kraft has also supported numerous institutions within the Massachusetts area, including Columbia University, Boston College, Harvard Business School, and the College of the Holy Cross. In 2014, Kraft established a grant program that supported New England grassroots nonprofits through surprise gifts of $100,000. Kraft has also pledged a great deal of money to healthcare causes, including a $20 million pledge to Partners HealthCare to improve access to quality healthcare throughout New England. Kraft even matched up to $100,000 in donations made for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Kraft has also done immaculate work combatting systemic racism, pledging $1 million to the cause in the wake of the George Floyd murder. Kraft has combatted systemic racism earlier as well: In 2019, Kraft teamed up with Jay-Z and Meek Mill to form a foundation of criminal justice reform called the REFORM Alliance. Kraft even flew more than 50 children on the Patriots’ team charter to watch the Patriots play the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 21, 2019.
Kraft has even become the face of coronavirus philanthropy, putting up his own Super Bowl LI ring for auction to help feed those with scarce food during the pandemic. The Patriots team plane shipped 1.2 million N95 masks from China to help combat mask shortages when the coronavirus initially hit. Kraft is so awesome that he even purchased 300,00 additional masks for the state of New York.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “The Patriots are cheaters! What about Deflategate? Spygate?” Yes, these events happened. But take the severity of these dilemmas into account for a second. According to yourteamcheats.com (where every team cheats, apparently), the Patriots are actually a touch below average when it comes to cheating with a score of 27.
The only severe scandal of the Belichick era was the scandal commonly found in the NFL, PEDgate. That was where six Patriots have been suspended for PED use. Of course, there are other teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers (three times since 1991) and the Denver Broncos (12 times since 2003!) that have partaken in this. Therefore, PEDs are a league-wide issue rather than just a Patriot issue. Also, many of the Patriots cheating scandals were marked as “All Blowed Up!” on yourteamcheats.com. Funny that a football commissioner like Roger Goodell can suspend Tom Brady for twice as many football games for deflating a football than suspend Ray Rice for beating his wife.
The Patriots dynasty may have possibly come to an end last season. However, New England sports fans and NFL fans alike have Robert Kraft to thank for his dedication and hard work. Kraft knows how to do his job efficiently, which is why he’s the best owner in all of sports.