Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT has had a "profound impact" on the NFL that "deserves to be celebrated," according to Greg Bedard of the BOSTON GLOBE. It is "behind closed doors where Kraft’s reach is really being felt, as he has carved out a vital role as emissary for all things NFL" and Commissioner ROGER GOODELL since losing his wife, MYRA. As the league's Broadcast Committee Chair, Kraft was "going to be involved in the negotiations for the new television contracts ... but he has also been actively involved in placing a team in Los Angeles and the league’s ventures in Europe, among other things." At this point, if "something big is going on in the NFL, Kraft is involved." Kraft said he told Goodell "I needed to fill my time and I’d help him in any way I could, especially with Myra’s passing." He added, "He and I have a good relationship. The TV deals, that’s something I would normally do. I just told him I was there to help him any way I could, so he’s allowed me to. We have other businesses, but I have capable sons, and I love the NFL." Goodell said of Kraft, "He has tremendous business instincts, he cares deeply about the Patriots and the league. He is a tremendous resource for me to be able to bounce ideas off of and help me think through ideas, and I consider that a tremendous asset for me personally and the league in general." Bedard noted as an NFL owner, "you’d be hard-pressed to have more of an impact than Kraft did in 2011." Goodell: "For the first half of 2011, clearly his priority was with Myra and he made that incredibly clear, but at the same time I don’t think he ever compromised helping the league at any critical stage. Whenever there was a meeting, he was there. If I felt it was important for him to be there, he would be there." Bedard noted if it had not been for the work done by Giants President & CEO JOHN MARA and Kraft to "end the NFL lockout, we might not even have a Super Bowl this week." Goodell said, "Both John Mara and Robert Kraft contributed a great deal in that context, but there are so many people that played a valuable role in the labor deal" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/29).
VOICES OF REASON: NFL Giants Chair & Exec VP STEVE TISCH said, "Bob is the strongest, most passionate and caring of the owners in the NFL. His commitment to the league is 100%. ... His guidance and friendship over the years has been incredibly valuable to me, and the relationship is an important and strong one" (L.A. TIMES, 1/30). In N.Y., Gary Myers writes if they "handed out a trophy for saving the 2011 NFL season," then Mara and Kraft would be "standing on the podium together accepting the award from the 2,000 players in the league." The two "played invaluable roles as lead negotiators in ending the lockout and allowing the Super Bowl to even be played this year." More than anybody, Mara and Kraft "put an end to the torturous 136-day lockout that had threatened the season." They "knew the owners and players needed each other and it was a partnership." They were the "voices of reason" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/30).
A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE THIS YEAR: N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said the Patriots head to the Super Bowl “less than the team they are supposed to be” after the passing of Myra Kraft. Lupica: “Last summer ... Bob Kraft did more than any owner to end the NFL lockout (and) preserve a season that now ends for his team in Indianapolis against the Giants. (He) did all that against his wife’s brave fight against cancer. There have been other seasons that ended with the Super Bowl for Mr. Kraft. Just not like this one” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 1/29).