Robert Kraft is one of just a few coaches, contributors, and seniors who made it to the semifinals for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. Among the handful of semifinalists, fans and peers alike have named him a clear favorite for the coveted position. We’ll look at why this is and how Kraft has spent a lifetime preparing for what will be a culmination of his outstanding efforts in football.
A Longtime Fan
Kraft has always been a football fan, and he’s long loved his home team. When others wanted to give up on the Patriots and ship them off to St. Louis, Kraft saw an opportunity where no one else did. Since becoming the Chairman and Owner, Kraft has earned the team six Lombardi trophies and the best winning percentage in professional sports. The Patriots have gone to the Super Bowl 10 times, a feat that almost no one could have conceived before Kraft took over.
Kraft is undoubtedly up against some big names for entrance into the exclusive club. People like Stanley Morgan and Francis Kilroy have certainly have their fair share of accomplishments in the league. Yet many believe that 2023 is Kraft’s time to be in the spotlight. He kept the Patriots in New England when others were ready to relocate. He managed to build the most impressive dynasty in NFL history, and he did it all without having to compromise his own principles.
In the half-decade before Kraft came along, the team had a .24% winning percentage. In 5 years, the team had won just 19 out of 80 games, and they had never made it to the playoffs. In its entire franchise history, the Patriots had only won 229 games, or under 7 wins per season. The team had only gone to the playoffs six times. After Kraft took over in 1994, they made the playoffs in the first season.
Kraft also managed to nearly double their average wins per season from 6.6 to 12.2. With more than 340 wins under his belt, Kraft made Foxborough the place to be. Before his tenure, the Patriots had only hosted a single playoff game. Thanks to Kraft, 27 postseason games were hosted by the team. Unsurprisingly, the Patriots managed to win 23 of those 27 games.
New Faith in the Team
Robert Kraft has respected football fans for his entire life, largely because he considers himself one of the crowd. Rescuing the Patriots from Missouri was as much an emotional decision as it was a practical one. No matter how many obstacles were thrown up in front of him, Kraft was willing to put his money where his mouth was. His last-minute bid was all fans needed to snatch up season tickets. Once they knew that Kraft had signed the paperwork, ticket sales surpassed 40,000. That was the first time in franchise history that sales ever went that high.
The $172 million he shelled out for the winning bid ensured that the team could stay in New England, but Kraft didn’t stop there. He also made a personal financial commitment to get Gillette Stadium up and running. It was the first home for the team, and the gesture instilled faith in both players and fans. He also made a big impression on his fellow owners, particularly after he was able to negotiate a variety of media deals. As a board member for Viacom, his expertise and skills were critical in the terms and conditions for the league’s media committee. He also had the foresight to broker a deal with Amazon. Now, fans can watch Thursday night football courtesy of a full-time streaming package starting this season.
Robert Kraft has also been instrumental in bringing people together from both sides of the aisle. When he saw the tension building in 2011 between players and the league, he took time out to address people’s concerns. This all took place during an extremely difficult time for Kraft, as he was mourning the loss of his wife, but he knew that he had an obligation to at least try and hold his beloved league together. He was so effective at bringing people together that there’s been peace since then.
Kraft’s goodwill has been building up over decades now, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the powers that be. Getting into this prestigious club takes a lot of guts and commitment, all of which Kraft has shown time and time again to his team. Players, owners, coaches, and fans alike have praised his capacity for getting things done. Whether it’s hiring qualified people or brokering a killer deal, the reality is that the Pro Hall of Fame is designed for people like him.
See more about Robert Kraft here: https://www.crunchbase.com/person/robert-kraft