Friday, May 22, 2015

Bob Kraft - Craftier Than Percieved

Robert Kraft is a patient man.

In fact, Robert Kraft is many things: a business magnate, philanthropist, owner of two north American sports franchises, has many honorary degrees in addition to his Masters degree in Business Administration from Harvard University, and has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Most of all, however, he is a fan.

A fan of humanity, of education and of the arts.  He supports hospitals, women's groups and builds stadiums for colleges.  He is a fan of sports, having owned a professional tennis franchise until that league folded in the late 1970's and he was rumored to be in contention to purchase both the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics at points in his career.

He is a fan of football.  A New England Patriots' season ticket holder since 1971, Kraft struggled through the lean years like every other fan of the team, and in 1988 tried to purchase the franchise from founding owner Billy Sullivan, but instead ended up outbidding several suitors to purchase then Sullivan Stadium out of bankruptcy - a key move in that along with the stadium came the Patriots lease, that ran through 2001.

Seven years later, Kraft was approached by new Patriots' owner James Orthwein and was offered $75 million to buy out the remaining six years of the Patriots' lease on the stadium so that he could move the team to St. Louis, Orthwein's hometown.

But Kraft saw this as his time to again try and purchase the franchise. In rejecting Orthwein's offer, he offered to take the Patriots off his hands for a then-record $172 million.  Having no recourse but to remain in Foxborough for six more seasons in a dilapidated stadium, Orthwein accepted Kraft's offer and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kessler must prove the Wells Report biased and fabricated to win for Brady

Kraft's love of the game of football itself has been on display throughout his tenure as Patriots' owner. Most will recall Kraft leaving his terminally ill wife's bedside to become the driving force in settling the 2011 labor dispute between the NFL and the NFLPA, prompting Indianapolis Colts' center and team player representative Jeff Saturday to declare that Kraft "Saved the game of football."

Kraft so loves the game of football that he became the founding father and is still the primary sponsor of the Israeli Football League, an eight-man-per-side league that has been in operation for eight seasons and is to this day the most successful non-domestic league in football history.

Unfortunately, most Patriots' fans and most media outlets do not take into consideration that in all of these things, Kraft bided his time, following his instincts and knew just when to rise from the weeds and attack.

So when Kraft addressed the football world on Monday night from San Francisco and announced that he was dropping his fight with the National Football league over the sanctions levied by them as punishment for the DeflateGate saga, it caused wide-spread pandemonium in Patriots' Nation, the aforementioned fans and media ripping into Kraft as if he were a convicted child molester announcing that he was moving into a hubble across the street from an elementary school.

Not only had they forgotten the fact that Kraft had saved the Patriots in 1995 when he purchased the team, and all of football itself in 2011, but also that he has the patience of a saint and the business instincts of a hammerhead shark - which means that he knows when the proper time is to strike, and now is not that time.

That time will come upon the completion of the appellate process for Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, who was slapped with a four-game suspension for his alleged role in the saga - a process for which he has turned to NFL killer, attorney Jeffery Kessler to resolve for him.

It is unlikely that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will budge from the punishment that he authorized for Brady, and Kraft knows this.  He also knows that the next step is to Federal Court where the NFL and Kessler will meet in mediation and, ultimately, with a court-appointed independent arbitrator...

...which will satisfy the demands of the NFLPA, and will likely strike down the punishment handed to Brady - or at least reduce it to a more fair sentence, at which time Kraft can take the results of the arbitration and then demand like-relief - because it goes without saying that the penalties handed to the Patriots, a $1 million fine and the loss of a first and fourth round draft pick, is excessive, given the crime - which was never proven anyway.

But that's only the tip of the iceberg.

In all likelihood, Kessler will tear down the Wells' Report, the 200-plus page indictment drawn up by prominent New York attorney Ted Wells at the conclusion of  his "independent investigation" on behalf of the league - which was anything but independent, given Wells' relationship with Goodell and the league - which appears to be fabricated and certainly was not unbiased, which was Kraft's assertion from the release of the document.

But Kraft's move is not dependent on Brady's suspension being reduced or overturned, rather, it is tied to the language in the Wells' report - and it just so happens that for Kessler to get justice for Brady, he will have to destroy the report, the very thing that will give Kraft the leverage that he needs to attack the league for redress of the monumental punishment.

Because if Kraft were to attack now, the Wells' Report stands in his way, flawed as it is - and he stands to lose much more than just an appeal, as filing an appeal in Federal court against the NFL also means that he is filing a lawsuit against the 31 other franchise owners, and if it comes down to a fight between Kraft and Goodell with the evidence that Kraft has in his favor now - which is none - it would take but 24 of the other owners in a vote to force Kraft to relinquish his ownership of the Patriots...

...which would be unlikely, but why take the chance?  Kraft has taken the prudent, albeit unknown and secretive path to salvation, employing his renowned patience and waiting for Brady's appellate process to expose the report as biased and, indeed, partial to the league and unfair to the Patriots and to Brady, then come out with a brace of legal beagles who will file perhaps one of the largest unfair practice suits in the history of professional sports.

What happens to Goodell at that point is a matter of speculation, but he could be dismissed as commissioner under a vote of no-confidence by the same measure of league owners, and dispatched from his lucrative digs high above Madison Avenue.

Will it come to that?  No one really knows for sure, but what we do know is that Robert Kraft has never backed down from a fight in his life, and he's not about to start now - and Patriots' fans need to remember that and give the benefit of the doubt to a man who deserves a couple of hundred of them, at the very least.


  1. Great, thoughtful article. This gives us hope!

    1. Hope is all we need, Robb...Thanks for the sentiments!

  2. Love this article! I had a similar theory with a post I published a couple days ago and one of the few fans defending Kraft. He's way to smart and a savvy business man to just choke in the matter of a day or two. I have to say, you took it even further than I did. I like it. If you care to read the post, here's the link...

    1. Excellent work! I love that you pointed out that Kraft took the focus off of himself (after an initial hate fest from the fans and media) and has shifted the attention back on Goodell and his inconsistent reign. Please leave your twitter handle so I can follow you?

  3. Love this article! I had a similar theory with a post I published a couple days ago and one of the few fans defending Kraft. He's way to smart and a savvy business man to just choke in the matter of a day or two. I have to say, you took it even further than I did. I like it. If you care to read the post, here's the link...

  4. Interesting take on the situation. I'm not sure I completely agree with your "end game" but I'm sure there is more to Kraft's capitulation than meets the eye.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  5. Good analysis of the basic dynamic here -- the team has no leverage at this point, but Brady does. He has rights under the CBA, and Kessler will shred the Wells report in whatever forum hears Brady's appeal. Once that happens, the league will have no choice but to give Kraft most of what he wants. I believe that there is a handshake on this already between Kraft and Goodell.

    1. I think the handshake agreement is that Goodell admitted to Kraft that he wasn't 100% behind the Wells report, and that he was going to rectify it somehow.

  6. That was a very well written piece. I found it to be rather soothing and reassuring as it provided much insight and once again reminded me of why I liked Mr. Kraft in the first place. Thanks, thank you very much.