Robert Kraft talks about the 2010 Patriots, the NFL Labor Issues, Bill Belichick and Donald Trump’s Hair


The owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, has long been an influential owner, with his three-time Super Bowl-winning franchise and stints on both the NFL’s broadcast and labor committees.  As one would expect for a billionaire like himself, he is also extremely connected in top social and political circles.  If anyone had watched the Patriots’ annihilation of the New York Jets last Monday night, they would have seen Donald Trump sitting in his executive suite with his hair flailing in the wind.  For his recent, optimistic comments on the CBA negotiations, he also appears to be positioning himself as a ray of hope for owners in the NFL labor talks.  Kraft fully anticipates the owners and NFLPA will come to an agreement before there would be a detrimental work stoppage.  Let’s just hope that Kraft is right because that would most definitely paralyze the NFL’s momentum and widespread popularity here in the States. Robert Kraft on WEEI in Boston to talk about whether choosing Bill Belichick was the smartest thing he has done in knowing what he was capable of doing, whether he still feels there will be a new labor agreement signed before a work stoppage ensues, and whose hair needs more attention: Donald Trump or Tom Brady.

Whether choosing Bill Belichick was the smartest thing he has done in knowing what he was capable of doing:
“Well I don’t know if I have done smart things.  I just know that in life you try to differentiate yourself and in any business you try to give quality product and then…  It is important in when you are trying to run an institution and trying to lead an institution in that you look to see things in a way that other people don’t see.  If it’s obvious to everyone then everyone’s going to do it.  The way you differentiate is to try to see things other people can’t see.  In the choice of Bill Belichick, I was just comfortable when I got to know him in ’96 that he was a manager.  Football had changed when we bought the team in ‘94 and we had a salary cap, which meant economic and understanding the value of players became as important as how you coach people.  Your evaluation of personnel had to have a financial part to it.  I learned in ‘96 that Bill had a unique understanding.  The first thing that comes to mind is when he was leaving here with the Parcells’ crew, he said to me, ‘Make sure you sign Troy Brown.’  I remember not everyone was in support of that but he saw things and he understood what he meant to Bledsoe…”

On whether he still feels there will be a new labor agreement signed before a work stoppage ensues:

“I think, just to be precise, what I said is, I think there was a real good chance to get a deal done before the season is over.  Some people interpreted that to mean the end of the calendar year.  For me, it means the year that goes through this labor agreement, which is really through the end of February and free agency starts in the beginning of March.  It would be criminal if we let this thing develop to the point where we had labor strife. Our ratings are so high.  Knowing what I know about the marketplace, there are people who will want to continue to brand and attach themselves to us and, just to put it into perspective, if we have a labor problem, in most labor negotiations, you put your offer in and it’s high, they put their offer in and it’s low and you go back and forth and you play this charade game then at the last minute you settle, let’s say Labor Day weekend, we will collectively lose a billion dollars of revenue if we did that.  The players receive close to 60 percent of that revenue right now.  In a new deal it would probably be in the 50s.  They still are the major beneficiaries.  We will collectively lose that and I think also aggravate the American public in a way that given this economic time, I think part of the reason that our ratings are so high, it is unbelievable what they are doing in every market, is that people want the NFL… The fan support has been wonderful.  I think there will be a tremendous backlash. It’s a real challenge to both sides.  With all due respect to the many great lawyers in the country, especially the lawyers working on both sides on this deal we have to get a business-like approach on both sides of the table.  The makings of a deal are there, in my opinion, and I just hope that we’re wise enough to do it.”

Whether players can withstand an 18-game schedule:

“Well that is a good question.  Right now the schedule is 20 games.  So what we’re doing is saying, instead of four of those games be preseason we make two of them.  Our fans definitely want it.  I just think we have to manage it in a way, whether we have to expand the rosters or unless, I don’t know any business, and maybe you and Dino are willing in your next contract to take a deduction, and if you are that is fine, but the only way we can continue to revenue and pay the players more is to grow the business.  We look at it as a 20-game season now and we’re just making two of those games regular season games.  It will require better management…”

Whose hair needs more attention: Donald Trump or Tom Brady:

“Well, I think of my friend Elton and his song ‘Candle in the Wind’…  You know what is good, and I would like for you guys to advise me, that Donald thinks we should pay him for getting so much attraction to the Patriots.  I’m not sure that he thinks the team’s performance on its own, it’s his presence…   He calls me on a Friday to come to a game where we are playing the Jets, now he is a New Yorker, but he has pretty much put his allegiance with the Patriots and our team.  So anytime we can send a message back to New York that one of their “celebrities” is a New England Patriots fan and is willing to do along the line.  We just like that message.  I hope we can continue to send it.”

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