It's well known that Robert Kraft is a former season-ticket holder for the New England Patriots, and though he's made millions upon millions in his life and now owns the team, he hasn't forgotten what it's like to be a fan.
The 70-year-old Kraft spoke Monday in a news conference following the formal end of the NFL lockout, and his first order of business was apologizing to fans.
Read Kraft's entire statement below.
"First of all, on behalf of both sides, I want to apologize to the fans," he said. "For the past six months we've been talking about the business of football, and not what goes on on the field and filling the teams in each market. But the end result is we've been able to have an agreement that I think is going to allow this sport to flourish over the next decade, and we've done that in a way that's unique among the major sports. Every team in our league, all 32, will be competitive, we've improved player safety and we've remembered the players who have played in the past.
"I want to give a special compliment to commissioner [Roger] Goodell and De Smith because the commissioner has to deal with 32 tough and demanding owners, and he's been able to keep that balance. But DeMaurice Smith has come in and he's managing 1,900 players, a bunch of different professionals. It's a new CBA with tricky language and he was able to keep all those things going and come up with an agreement that he and Roger did together with their two teams.
"Lastly, what kept me at the table the last four and a half months was seeing the player representatives who represented the league players. You know, they didn't just look at the short-term interests of their own playing careers, but they looked long term. Especially Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth. I was so impressed with them that they acted as principals at the table, looking out for what's good for the game.
"So I believe you're gonna see a very great NFL over the next decade, and I hope we gave a little lesson to the people in Washington because the debt crisis is a lot easier to fix than this deal was. Thank you."
Saturday later spoke and thanked Kraft and his late wife Myra, and the two men shared a hug.