Bob Kraft has had difficulty winning the hearts and minds of the New England Patriot's fans, and it's becoming pretty clear why.
When Kraft bought the Pats, they were a miserable franchise. They had been to the Super Bowl once, and were humiliated by the Bears. I remember watching that game when I was 12 years old, and crying myself to sleep midway through the third quarter.
But the humiliation that the Pats players experienced in that drubbing is nothing like what was cast over the franchise after players sexually harassed a female reporter in the locker room, and their then-owner Victor Kiam called that reporter a "classic bitch."
Let's not talk about the Sullivans and their reign in New England that began when they bought the franchise in 1959. I'm not so good at match, but 1959 to 1986 is a long, long time to wait to see a team make the Super Bowl. Much less, well, you know, win it three times in four years. But we'll get to that.
Kraft has caught a lot of flack since buying the team in 1994. The Boston politicians wouldn't let him build a stadium in the city in the late 1990s, and the sports writers wrote him off as an incompetent micromanager after Bill Parcells deserted the team following their 1997 Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers.
We're going to back up for just a minute. The Sullivans bought the Patriots in 1959 and it took several decades to reach the Super Bowl. Kraft got them there in just a few years (and not so far removed from a 1-15 season).
OK, back to the present day. Bob Kraft has taken the team to four of the past nine Super Bowls. They have won three of the past four, and are now regarded as a dynasty. But some people just cannot find it within themselves to at least ignore Kraft, much less thank the man.
Some take shots because he let Bill Parcells, who won zero Super Bowls in his tenure in New England, walk away.
Some call him cheap because he let the team cut Lawyer Milloy, a local favorite and former Pro Bowler. But Kraft generally spends up to the salary cap or close to it, and the team has won two of two Super Bowls since dropping Milloy.
He's probably getting called cheap again as the team let go of Ty Law on Friday. Ty Law was a great player, but didn't play in the last 12 games of the season, and the Pats still won the Super Bowl.
And he's catching it again on a local discussion forum due to his support for a flag football league in Israel, and his statement as quoted on the board from a press report during a trip to Israel that
"You get three out of four Super Bowls by subjugating the ego for the good of the whole," he said. "In Israel, this is in the fabric of the country, to create a democracy that thrives against the odds."
As I posted on that board, Israel is a democracy that HAS thrived against the odds.
Is there any other way to describe it? Israel has been under attack since DAY 1, surrounded by enemies that vastly outnumber Israel. Israel's continued existance blows every sports cliche out of the water as far as defying odds.
While the Israeli government may not be perfect in terms of its treatment of the Palestinians, keep in mind that Americans only got a taste of what Israel has dealt with for its entire history on 9/11. If the U.S. was heavily populated by al-Qaeda members and was surrounded on all sides by terrorism supporters like the nations that surround Israel, how do YOU think we'd run out government?
I'll give you a hint. The post 9/11 reaction that has raised a lot of concern amongst civil liberties advocates would be NOTHING in comparison, given that we currently are reacting against a group tiny in size and funding comparison -- al-Qaeda and the like compared to entire states with their massive oil resources -- that is oceans away with probably just a few cells here.
Sorry to go off on a tangent.
Bob Kraft has already given us four Super Bowls with three victories in the past four years, and built a new stadium in Mass. Given that and his other community involvement, I suggest that folks here temper their criticism of his funding a flag football league in Israel as if it's some kind of an act of treason -- which is silly to begin with given that Israel is one of our few true friends in the Middle East.
Maybe you'd be happier with the Sullivans or Victor Kiam.
I'll leave you with a few questions. Did you ever say at any time between 1959 and early 2002 the phrase "when the Patriots won the Super Bowl?" Or how about "When the Patriots won the Super Bowl three times in four years?" Or "The Patriots are a dynasty?"
No, you didn't. And I suggest that if you haven't thanked Bob Kraft yet, you do so.
Unless, of course, you can't get over the fact that you're awfully ungrateful. Or that he's Jewish.