This week included two big anniversaries for the Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots. But with an AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos looming Sunday, the Patriots owner isn’t interested in dwelling on the past.
Thursday marked exactly 22 years since Kraft purchased the Patriots, while Monday was the one-year anniversary of the Deflategate debacle that dominated headlines after the team’s win in last season’s AFC title game.
The Patriots have been able to block out the noise to reach their 11th conference championship game since Kraft took over in 1994, and in an interview with The Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian on Thursday, the owner raved about his team’s ability to focus amid all the hoopla.
“This team, there’s been a lot of stuff going on,” Kraft said. “Being able to bury the distractions and the negative things that have happened to get to this point, it’s hard. It’s really hard. I tell you, I think this team has a mental toughness that is special.”
Kraft couldn’t help but insert what appeared to be a subtle jab at the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts, who set Deflategate into motion.
“When you do well, everybody’s after you, and sometimes the motives are legitimate, and sometimes it’s envy and jealousy,” Kraft said. “Thank goodness we’re looking out at that, and not having to feel those emotions.”
Kraft also discussed his decision to accept commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishment of a $1 million fine and a loss of a 2016 first-round pick, admitting he made the concession with the hope of Goodell lifting Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. That didn’t happen, as it took a court ruling to overturn Brady’s suspension.
But Kraft said he’s not interested in battling the NFL over the fine and loss of draft pick.
“Who knows? Look, I made a strategic decision to help our guy (Brady) and to have him on the field,” Kraft said. “And then in the end, you’re appealing to the person (Goodell) who made the ruling. So you can fight, and not get anything. You might look good, but you’re not going to accomplish (anything), rather than try to do the least controversial thing to get value for our guy. But things didn’t work out the way we had hoped. But that’s in the past, and we’re moving on.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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