FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots have a sense of family, and it’s one of the many reasons why guys enjoy playing for the organization.
According to Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, that family atmosphere starts at the top with owner Robert Kraft.
“Mr. Kraft has been around a lot ever since I’ve been here,” Gostkowski said before Thursday’s practice at Gillette Stadium. “It can be intimidating being around a guy who’s got so much, but he comes off as a normal guy. He’ll come up to you — he called my wife when she had her surgery, he sent me a baby gift when I had a baby. He’s just a great guy.
“They preach family around here, and it starts with him. As crazy as it is in this business with people getting cut and traded, year in and year out people go different places — they do a really good job making us feel welcome while we’re here because we’re here a lot of the time. Most of that credit should go to Mr. Kraft.
“I remember having a bad game and Mr. Kraft came up and consoled me. He wasn’t coming around and trying to be a hardo and tell me I need to do better. He’s a human being. He’s also the owner of this team, and when there’s a guy up there that you see and is invested as he is, not just monetarily but emotionally, it’s a lot easier to go out and play for a guy like that. We love Mr. Kraft, he’s always welcome around us in the locker room, I mean, he owns the place, he can go wherever he wants, but he’s very welcome in the inner circles of the locker room camaraderie. It’s cool to be a part of.”
The Patriots face enormous expectations each season. It’s the product of winning four Super Bowls in 15 years and being the winningest NFL franchise in that span.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday that the expectations and the tone the entire franchise follows is set by Kraft.
“It?s obviously a huge impact on our team and our organization,” Brady said. “His expectations for us and how he sets the tone for us — he sits in almost every squad meeting that we have, (and) I think he?s always got a pulse for how the team is doing, how the coaches feel about the particular week, how the players are feeling.
“He?s always involved, so I would say he?s very hands on. He used to come out to practice a lot more, but not as much lately. So, yeah, he really sets the tone for us.”
A lot of owners like to meddle in team operations and activities, just look at Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys. He can’t get enough of the spotlight, and it has the potential to be a distraction for the team.
Kraft is hands on as well, but he does it in a positive and non-disruptive way. That’s the kind of owner every player wants to play for.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images