Celebrating 500 Games Under Legendary Patriots Owner Robert Kraft: History, Legacy, And An Undeniabl
A definitive celebration guide to commemorate the 500th New England Patriots game played under fan favorite team owner Robert Kraft.
Kraft’s Early Life Prior To Purchasing Patriots
The New England Patriots game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday marked the 500th game for Robert Kraft as the team owner of the Patriots. Kraft purchased the team in 1994 from then-owner James Orthwein for a sum of $172 million dollars. Today, the New England Patriots are worth about $5 billion and the team has accrued six Super Bowl victories under Kraft’s ownership.
Robert Kraft is by far the coolest team owner in the NFL. Everyone knows it, even if they won’t admit it, due in part to a long-standing bias against all things Patriots. Kraft was born in Brookline, Massachusetts and as a kid, sold newspapers outside of Braves Field, which at the time (1950) was the home stadium of the Boston Braves baseball team.
Some years later, Kraft attended Columbia University on an academic scholarship and served as class president during his enrollment. While he was enrolled, he played Tennis and was also a Safety for Columbia’s Lightweight Football team (which is now more commonly known as “sprint football”) [a division of college football, specifically for players under 178 lb with a minimum of 5% body fat, emphasizing speed and agility over strength and body weight].
He would graduate from Columbia University and would receive an MBA from Harvard Business School shortly after. After graduating, he would consider a career in politics but ultimately decide against it, with one of the main reasons cited concerning the suicide of a close friend who had been in politics and had succumbed to the “political pressures”.
Instead, he would wind up starting his professional career with his father-in-law’s packaging company, The Rand-Whitney Group. A company which he still serves as the chairman of, to this day. A few years later, he would found his own company: International Forest Products. A trader of physical paper commodities. This company would go on to be highly successful and help him build up the fortune he would soon use to acquire the land surrounding Foxboro Stadium, and eventually the Stadium itself along with the proper team to occupy it.
In 1974, Kraft and five others would purchase the Boston Lobsters Tennis team which despite performing well within the sport, would shut its franchise doors shortly before the entire league folded in 1978. Obviously, Kraft was expected to pursue new business opportunities afterward and was even mentioned as a possible buyer of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics.
Ultimately fate would guide a middle-aged Robert Kraft to become the owner of both the New England Patriots football team and Foxboro Stadium before the start of the 1994 NFL season. It was a complicated acquisition involving a multitude of different millionaires competing for ownership through high-dollar financial figures and threats of various legal battles. Kraft said that his passion for Patriots fandom (Kraft has been a season ticket holder for the Patriots since 1971) led him to “break every one of his financial rules” and to this day he still believes he overpaid for the franchise.
Following the NFL’s approval of the sale, the New England Patriots sold out their entire 1994 season (for the very first time), and ensuingly, every single Patriots home game, [preseason, regular season, or playoffs] has been sold out since.
The 1994 New England Patriots
I thought it might be fun to take a quick look at the 1994 Patriots team from Kraft’s first year as the owner. The Patriots went 10-6 on the season and recorded various interesting statistics and some strange records, some of which still stand.
The Head Coach of the team was Bill Parcels. The Patriots had three players selected to the Pro Bowl in 1994: QB Drew Bledsoe, T Bruce Armstrong, and TE Ben Coates. Their first pick of the 1994 draft was Willie McGinest with the fourth overall pick, who was the only player the Patriots drafted that year that would have any sort of lasting impact.
1994 was Drew Bledsoe’s sophomore campaign, a year after being drafted number one overall in the previous NFL Draft. There was debate over which QB would be better between Drew Bledsoe and Notre Dame standout QB Rick Mirer who was drafted second overall, directly after Bledsoe. It’s safe to say now that the Patriots got it right. In 1994, Bledsoe put up more passing attempts than any other QB in NFL history at the time, setting the NFL record for pass attempts in a season with 691 (the record was broken by Matthew Stafford in 2012).
Bledsoe also set a handful of other interesting records that year, including Most pass completions and attempts in a game (45 completions on 70 attempts) and most games in a season with 50 or more passing attempts (five). New England attempted 699 passes on the season which is the third most in NFL history and the most ever for a team that finished the season with a winning record.
Another record of note during the 1994 season involves the Patriots’ abysmal running game. The team finished last in the league in rushing yards with 1,332, which carried along with it the worst rushing yard-per-carry average for any NFL team since the AFL–NFL merger of 1966 (2.79 yards-per-carry).
The 1994 Patriots would ultimately be defeated in the Wild Card round of the Playoffs by the Browns with a score of 13-20. The Browns have only won one playoff game since then. I also found it interesting that the Patriots wore their red throwbacks that year, obviously a connection to the current Patriots team which is set to debut those very same throwback jerseys later on this season.
Funny Or Memorable Moments And Other Interesting Memories Involving Robert Kraft
There have been a plethora of entertaining and memorable occurrences involving Robert Kraft and his various escapades during his tenure as Team Owner, and there are definitely enough things worth mentioning to create a sizeable list of such happenings. Obviously, there are too many to mention and I’ll probably forget to include some stuff, but these are some of the best instances I could think of, in terms of Robert Kraft being Robert Kraft throughout the years… This should be a blast. Let’s get started.
Robert Kraft’s close personal friendship with musical legend Elton John resulted in Elton John being named an honorary captain of the New England Patriots one time when the Patriots played against the Buccaneers in 2009. Elton John also once declared Kraft to be “one of his best friends in the whole wide world” at a concert in 2013.
Kraft is known to invite a number of celebrities to watch the game with him up in the owner’s box, including repeat guests Mark Whalberg and Jon Bon Jovi. This is a trend that continues in the present, as just last week, Mike Tyson was spotted sitting alongside Kraft for the first time, during the Patriots’ week 2 game against the Steelers.
The champ, Mike Tyson sitting with Robert Kraft at the Dolphins-Patriots game 😳 pic.twitter.com/T4PjwClfRh — ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 11, 2022
During Robert Kraft’s acceptance speech of the 2017 AFC Championship trophy, Kraft infamously appeared to be quite intoxicated, and ironically most New Englanders gained a sense of respect for him that day that few NFL owners have ever been able to achieve. If you’ve never seen this speech, I suggest you watch it, now. Bill Belichick’s face at the conclusion of Kraft’s speech is basically priceless.
Kraft’s now infamous green screen audition video with former girlfriend Ricki Noel Lander is a certified hood classic. For a while, after its release, nobody anywhere had any clue what was going on and what they were watching, and it became sort of a comical topic of conversation all around the league. Kraft explained the video in a press conference shortly after the video was released, saying:
“I tried to help Ricki prepare an audition tape for an upcoming Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy by reading Wilson’s lines,… …I never intended that it would be made public and I regret that it has. I think we can all agree that Owen Wilson has nothing to worry about. I am going to stick to my day job.” Robert Kraft Explaining 2012’s Mystery Audition Tape
Never forget when Bob Kraft read for his girlfriend Ricki Lander's audition tape for the role of Marielena in the 2013 "film" 'The Internship' pic.twitter.com/ni6AXJ9IcI — eBaum's World (@ebaumsworld) February 22, 2019
Vladimir Putin essentially stole Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl Ring from Super Bowl 39 back in 2017. The incident basically became an international headline and it took years for the true story regarding the infamous exchange between Kraft and Putin to be released to the public. Kraft showed Putin his ring, and instead of giving it back to Kraft after, Putin simply pocketed it and went on with his day. Kraft was pissed but was advised to declare that the ring had been a gift in order to quell any chance of the story turning into an international incident.
New details about the time Vladimir Putin stole Robert Kraft's Super Bowl ring in Jeff Benedict's new book, "The Dynasty" pic.twitter.com/yDvZhGAO7N — Kendall Baker (@kendallbaker) September 10, 2020
Robert Kraft is in possession of one of the world’s shiniest pairs of shoes. If you can’t picture them already, I somewhat question your Patriots fandom, as they are completely unforgettable once you’ve seen them. I do however believe he only wore them on two occasions, one being the initial debut of the shoes during Ty Law’s Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony, in which Kraft wore and also gifted the only other known pair of these shoes to Ty Law.
The only other time he was seen wearing them was post-game after a Thursday night game between the Patriots and the Jets in 2014. I would seriously consider heisting these shoes somehow if Robert Kraft and I had the same shoe size.
Robert Kraft dusted off the custom Air Force 1's for #TNF! #NYJvsNE pic.twitter.com/86yz1OinEY — NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 16, 2014
Kraft has a large social group of powerful and influential people that isn’t limited to the worlds of sports or business. It seems like he enjoys the company of various rappers and is known to have positive relationships with some of the biggest names in the hip-hop industry, including Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Quavo, Gucci Mane, Meek Mill, Snoop Dogg, and Cardi B.
He was heavily involved in working to get Meek Mill released from prison and even visited him on the inside back in 2018. Kraft along with 76ers Owner/Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, Jay-Z, and others, helped launch the Reform Alliance, a group working toward police and prison reform around the country. The friendship between all of these men has proven resilient and was commemorated last year during Kraft’s 80th birthday, when Meek, Jay-Z, Rubin, and others pitched in to purchase a “special drop top blue Bentley” for Kraft as a birthday present. A car which Kraft had apparently always desired, but based on his philanthropist mindset, would have never purchased for himself.
One time during Robert Kraft’s annual Super Bowl bash which is always jam-packed with celebrities, Snoop Dogg stated that Kraft was “Fly as a m***********”, which is an endorsement that 99.9% of people would love to have but will never receive. Snoop Dogg isn’t afraid to say exactly how he feels, so it’s fair to say that Snoop is definitely a fan of Old Bobby K. When you start to develop the big picture of Kraft’s life it becomes apparent how much charisma and influence he truly possesses (a lot more than me, or you probably).
Snoop Dogg just called Robert Kraft “fly as a motherfucker” and it’s probably only the 72nd coolest thing that happened to him today pic.twitter.com/h6hcWj5dk2 — Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) February 4, 2019
Here’s a short article from cbssports I wanted to include that features a picture of Robert Kraft lounging at a club around 10 years ago with arguably the most famous celebrity couple on the planet at the time (Jay-Z and Beyonce). There’s also a great picture of Kraft making the roc-a-fella diamond cutter hand symbol made popular by Jay-Z. (Illuminati.) Absolute legend.
Here’s another example of Kraft’s prowess as a positive vibe superspreader and general haver-of-fun. I really wish that all the billionaires were like this. I kinda thought this was going to evolve into a rap battle at first… If only.
All of these moments I’ve mentioned so far were extremely entertaining when they were happening and most of them have become infamous to the point of being considered somewhat close to legendary in the present. I may have even managed to save the best for last, and I’m going to quote the headline in its entirety from a BarDown article I found highlighting and recapping this top-tier Robert Kraft moment which is the final entry on this list.
“There are no words to describe Robert Kraft dancing on stage with Cardi B”.
Robert Kraft enjoying himself some Cardi B…. pic.twitter.com/UlaDuy3gTc — DatPiff (@DatPiff) February 2, 2019
Robert Kraft might seriously be one of the coolest humans to ever exist on this planet.
Robert Kraft Receives Game Ball After Milestone 500th Game As Team Owner
After the Patriots’ victory against the Steelers on Sunday, during the ensuing locker room celebrations, Robert Kraft was presented with the game ball in a humble, yet heartwarming moment recognizing his impressive milestone of 500 games as a team owner. It was Kraft’s 342nd victory since purchasing the team back in 1994, which brought his record as team owner to 342 wins against 158 losses, which amounts to a .684 winning percentage spanning a period of almost three decades, which is obviously very impressive. Several Patriots players were interviewed about the milestone occasion after the game, resulting in a plethora of heartfelt quotes from various players regarding the legacy of New England’s resident King Bob Kraft.
Instead of including 1000 words worth of quotes, I’m going to refer you to Patriots.com in order to read them if you so choose. The aforementioned quotes can be observed via this link to Patriots.com that leads to a recent article they posted concerning Robert Kraft’s 500th game, with a focus on the thoughts and reflections of current Patriots players regarding the legacy of Robert Kraft.
If you’re still reading, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read such a long article in a day and age where most people simply don’t have the time and the people who do, simply don’t care.
Now, onwards to the final section of this article.
The Legacy Of Mr. Robert Kenneth Kraft
There are simply not enough words in the English Language available to describe a figure as majestic and mystical as RKK. I’m currently considering commissioning Merriam-Webster to create a new word, solely for the purpose of describing Old Bob in a more specified manner.
Exceptional, legendary, charismatic, and god-like are some of the adjectives that come close to describing the man (myth and legend) of Kraft, but they are seemingly not enough and I propose that we as a species may require a new word in order to properly label the billionaire enigma personality that is Robert Kraft.
We need a word that’s more worthy of being an all-encompassing descriptor, for a man who has defied all pre-existing concepts of the typical dime-store legacy described within the concept of the American dream. We need a word to describe a man who probably makes all the other Billionaires feel about as uncool as the average American felt in High School. We need a word to label a man who is currently one of the world’s 300 richest people, but somehow still comes off as humble and loveable as your favorite poverty-stricken Uncle.
The only word I can come up with for now is Krafty. But that kind of sucks. Feel free to contact Merriam-Webster with your own suggestions for a new Robert Kraft-based and inspired adjective. I’m sure they would be very confused, and it would be very funny to me if anyone actually did that.
This graphic posted by the official Patriots twitter lays it out perfectly:
RKK 500. Tomorrow marks Robert Kraft’s 500th game as owner since buying the Patriots in 1994. pic.twitter.com/SmujbPpZgh — New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 18, 2022
341 wins, 22 playoff seasons, 19 division titles, 11 AFC titles, and six Super Bowl Championships. Absolutely incredible. I’m not willing to do the research on thousands of games to figure out if he’s the most successful NFL team owner of the modern era, but with numbers like these, it’s a safe bet/assumption to make.
Kraft bought the Patriots for $172 Million dollars in 1994 and the franchise is currently worth $5.08 billion. His entire portfolio is worth $8.3 billion and he’s currently ranked somewhere around the 263rd richest person on the planet.
Along with his long-lasting and successful tenure as New England Patriots team owner, he also boasts a large number of other business endeavors under his belt with an equal number of charitable affairs and philanthropies to match. He founded the New England Revolution Major League Soccer team in 1996 and purchased the Boston Uprising Overwatch esports team in 2017, displaying an obvious passion for the region of New England, the city of Boston, and the pro sports teams that lie within those confines.
The 2023 Hall of Fame announced its 12 finalists for the coach/contributor category concerning the upcoming 2023 HOF class, and you likely already know that Robert Kraft was amongst the names chosen. He’s a lock for the Football Hall of Fame in the coming years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s inducted into other various Halls-of-Fame as well. He’s seemingly got a hand in everything you can think of and has achieved immeasurable success while maintaining a careful balance of power and likeability. He’s a finalist in my personal Hall of Fame for sure, and I can’t imagine how crazy the crowds are going to be during his NFL HOF induction ceremony, whenever that may be.
We thank you for everything you’ve done for the region of New England and furthermore the world, Mr. Kraft. Never change.
Congratulations Robert Kraft! Here’s to 500 more!
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