Robert Kraft has been named the latest recipient of the Sports Business Journal Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is a recognition of all that Kraft has accomplished.
Robert Kraft Has Long Merged Sports and Business
From early on in his business career, Robert Kraft has merged sports and business in various ways. The combination began when he was a child, and obviously continues on now during his senior years.
Kraft spent a year selling newspapers, as many working-class children do when they’re growing up. Thanks to a premier location, however, Kraft was more successful than most kids who sell papers. He set up outside the Boston Braves’ ballpark during the 1950s, which was an era when his papers would have the latest baseball and other sports news. Without the internet, his papers were in high demand among fans.
When attending college, Kraft excelled both in the classroom and on the football field. He played on the University of Columbia’s football team, earning two letters for his play as a safety and running back.
Kraft and the New England Patriots
The first decade of the New England Patriots wasn’t a very successful period, and Kraft witnessed many of the frustrating games as a regular season ticket holder during the 1970s.
Kraft’s business involvement with the Patriots began in 1988, when he and a developer purchased Foxboro Stadium out of bankruptcy. The two had enough foresight to lock the team into a long-term contract that lasted through 2001, ensuring that the team would continue to play at the stadium in the coming years. This contract is what prevented then-owner Victor Kiam from relocating the team to Jacksonville, Florida in 1991.
A few years later, Kraft bought out the real estate developer whom he had initially purchased Foxboro Stadium with. He again used the stadium’s lease to prevent the team from being moved, this time to St Louis, Missouri.
Kraft purchased the New England Patriots in 1994, and the team has become the most successful NFL team in the years since. No other team has more Super Bowl wins. Although the Pittsburgh Steelers have an equal number, most of theirs were further back in NFL history.
Kraft’s Other Sports Business Endeavors
While the New England Patriots are Robert Kraft’s most successful sports endeavor, they’re hardly his only successful one. Some of his other efforts include:
- Leading an investment group to form the World TeamTennis Boston Lobsters in 1975
- Leasing Foxboro Raceway from 1985 until 1995, and including a stipulation that horse races take precedence over non-sports events
- Bringing 1994 FIFA World Cup matches to Foxboro Stadium, and later brought the FIFA Women’s World Cup to the stadium in 1999 and 2003
- Establishing the New England Revolution, which was one of the founding teams of the MLS, in 1996
- Acquiring a majority stake in the MLS team San Jose Clash
- Building a multi-million-dollar sports complex in Jerusalem, Israel
Kraft Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
All of these accomplishments are why the Sports Business Journal has recognized Kraft with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The New England Patriots’ accomplishments on the football field speak for themselves, and Kraft has done much more than only run a team which has won six Super Bowls.
In receiving the award, Kraft joins a list of recipients that includes Paul Fireman, Time Finchem, Jerry Jones, Bud Selig, Dan Rooney and other well-known sports and business figures.
Kraft’s Colleagues Reflect on Him
Over his long career, Robert Kraft has met and gotten to know many different people. These include figures both in and outside of sports. Just a few of the numerous people include:
- Presidents: Donald Trump, Barack Obama, both Bushes, Bill Clinton, Ronald Raegan and General Ford
- Other Politicians: Jacqueline Kennedy, Ariel Sharon and Vladimir Putin
- Musicians: Jon Bon Jovi and Meek Mill
- Miscellaneous: The Dalai Lama, Robert Smith, Michael Rubin
Some of the people who he’s known have provided recent comments about their relationship with him, and Kraft as a person.
Chair of Paramount Global Shari Redstone has credited the NFL’s success largely on account of Kraft’s acumen. “Without Bob’s leadership and guidance, the NFL would not be what it is today, and neither would CBS. Yet…it is who he is as a person that makes me most proud.” Redstone went on to say how much of an honor it is to have Kraft as a friend and mentor.
NFL Running Back Curtis Martin noted the importance of treating players well. “When you care about the person in the uniform as much as you care about the uniform, that goes a long way in NFL locker rooms.” Drew Bledsoe previously has said how he learned the importance of treating employees well from Kraft.
Ron Burton Training Village Vice President Paul Burton described Kraft’s lifetime legacy. “It’s a legacy of lifting up those who are down, and giving them an opportunity to succeed. It’s a legacy of hard work, of true devotion and commitment.”
Robert Kraft Will Leave a Lasting Legacy
Robert Kraft is still heavily involved in sports, even as he passes his 81st birthday. He’s accomplished much during this long lifetime, and he is sure to leave a legacy that also spans decades.
See more about Robert Kraft here: https://www.revolutionsoccer.net/club/bios/robert-kraft