As we are writing this early in the week, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Coach/Contributor Committee is getting ready to meet to select one of 12 nominees for inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2023. That nominee then must go to the full selection committee for a final vote for inclusion.
Among the nominees is our own Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots.
With all due respect to the other 11 nominees (for the record, they are Roone Arledge, Don Coryell, Mike Holmgren, Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, Art Modell, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves, Art Rooney Jr., Mike Shanahan, Clark Shaughnessy and John Wooten), there is no one affiliated with the NFL who deserves inclusion in the Hall of Fame more than Mr. Kraft.
We formerly were Patriot season ticket-holders (we have not been for almost 30 years) from the time the franchise began in 1960. We attended games at Braves Field, Fenway Park, and Harvard Stadium before the Pats finally moved to their own stadium in Foxboro in 1972, the much-maligned Schaefer Stadium, which was built on the cheap and was outdated within a decade of its construction.
But what many present-day Patriots’ fans may not realize is that the franchise was on the verge of moving to St. Louis — which was offering a sweet deal on a new, state-of-the art, domed stadium — until Mr. Kraft (who himself had been a Pats’ fan from the beginning) stepped in to purchase the team in 1994 in order to keep it in New England.
Mr. Kraft not only totally changed the culture of the Patriots’ organization, but he constructed Gillette Stadium with no public funding. He assumed the entire risk not only of buying a moribund franchise, but also of constructing a $325 million stadium.
Over the course of the ensuing 28 years, the New England Patriots have been one of the most successful sports franchises, not only in pro football, but in the entire world, under Mr. Kraft’s leadership.
But beyond all of their Super Bowl titles, the Patriots and the Kraft family also have set the standard for what it means to be a good corporate citizen. Among their endeavors with which we directly are familiar through our sister newspaper in Chelsea is the Jordan Boys and Girls Club in Chelsea, of which Josh Kraft is the CEO, and for which the Krafts were among the major donors for the $11 million complex. And we all recall that during the darkest days of the pandemic, the Krafts used the Patriots’ team jet and set up the logistics to bring 1.2 million desperately-needed face masks to this area from China.
So we fervently hope that the Hall of Fame committees see their way to nominate and name Mr. Kraft for enshrinement in Canton, Ohio. Together with his beloved, late wife Myra, who typically sat side-by-side with each other at every Patriots’ game, Bob Kraft has set the standard of excellence not only for football, but for ownership of sports teams the world over.
We may be living in a cynical world, but Bob Kraft has brought more joy to our area than anyone we can think of — and isn’t that what sports are all about?