SBD/January 16, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Robert Kraft Profiled As "Tender Philanthropist And A Ruthless Businessman"

Kraft says he's learned not to be surprised by unexpected negative things in his life
In the 20 years since Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT purchased the team, it has been "near the top of nearly every category associated with sustained success," according to a profile by Jackie MacMullan of ESPN BOSTON. Kraft said, "After the love of my family, there's nothing more important to me than winning football games. And I will do whatever I have to do to put this team in position to do that." Next week will "mark the 20th anniversary" of Kraft buying the team for $172M. He has "deftly molded" the Patriots brand into an "empire that includes the open-air shopping center Patriot Place, and he has done it with private funds." Kraft is one of the "most powerful men in football, viewed as both a tender philanthropist and a ruthless businessman." In the past 20 years he has been "lauded as the man who saved the NFL and denigrated as the man who eviscerated the city of Hartford." Kraft's name "will forever be mud" in the city after he brokered a deal to move the Patriots there in '99. The deal included a $374M waterfront stadium that "would leave him debt free." But he later "extricated himself from" the agreement, and the "backlash was venomous." Kraft said, "I've learned not to be surprised when unexpected negative things come along. Everyone is there for the good times. It's how you handle the difficult times that will separate you. It's like keeping a family together. Let's be honest: This is a sick business. (The NFL) is going for parity. Your games get scheduled in terms of how well you did. You draft according to how well you did. You're punished for excellence, in a sense." He added, "Sustaining success is so hard, and the one thing I learned you can't have is division from within." Kraft's son and Patriots President JONATHAN KRAFT is the "heir apparent to this NFL jewel, but the father is not quite ready to abdicate his football throne" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 1/14).

GOOD FOR BUSINESS: Jonathan Kraft appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning, with CNBC's Joe Kernen noting Sunday's Patriots-Broncos AFC Championship Game is "so much more expensive than any other recent game" because it is "such a dream game." Kernen noted tickets were going for up to $800. Kraft said, "For the NFL, if ... we couldn't be in it, this would be the matchup that I would want to see because it's the right thing for the business" ("Squawk Box, CNBC, 1/16). 
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