Robert Kraft has been on the short list for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH for quite some time. After having made it to the coveted position of semifinalists in 2022, he had a number of people — both in his inner circle and beyond — name him as a favorite for the distinction. Learn more about what he’s done to earn his place amongst the greats and why his induction would be a fitting tribute for his many efforts to improve the NFL.
A Forever Fan
Sports have long inspired passion for so many people around the world. The problem is that passions can vary from person to person. Some people are called to the world of pro sports because they love the players and the fans. Some are called because they see an opportunity to make money on all those ticket sales.
For Robert Kraft, he falls squarely into the former category. As a child, the Patriots were his home team. He grew up going to games and rooting for his favorites. When Kraft bought the Patriots, there were calls to ship the Patriots to St. Louis. Their win-loss record was enough to convince certain people that they had no place in New England anymore. However, Kraft saw things very differently. The last thing he wanted to do was send the Patriots away, and let them try their luck elsewhere. It would be dishonoring the memory of his childhood, not to mention everything he believed in.
From the moment he took over, he invested his time, money, and expertise in the team. As Chairman and Owner, his team now has 6 Lombardi trophies and the most impressive winning percentage in not just football, but all professional sports. When Kraft took over, fans of the team lined up to buy season tickets, but not even the most die-hard fan could have predicted that the Patriots would head to the Super Bowl 10 times thanks to Kraft’s decisions.
When Kraft was still in the running for the Hall of Fame, he was up against some very stiff competition. After all, fellow short-list candidates like Francis Kilroy and Stanley Morgan have certainly made their mark on the NFL too. However, the general buzz around the league (and beyond) was that Kraft had earned his spot there.
At the beginning of his tenure, the Patriots had only won 19 out of 80 games from the past five years. They had less than 7 wins per season over the course of the entire franchise, and had only gone to the playoffs 6 times. In just one season, Kraft led the team to the playoffs, and it wasn’t long before the Patriots really started to come back with a vengeance. He doubled their average wins every season, skyrocketing from 6.6 to 12.2. He has more than 340 wins to his credit, and he’s transformed Foxborough into a stadium of hope.
Inspiring Future Generations of Fans
Robert Kraft has innumerable skills as a businessman, and you don’t have to look very hard to see the evidence of his acumen. However, his real goals are a little less fiscal-related. Kraft has respected the institution of football for his entire life. From the outside looking in, he was proud to be a part of the crowd. From the inside looking out, he hopes that his legacy will be one of inspiration.
It wasn’t a simple process to place the winning bid for the team, particularly not when there was so much negative press that surrounded the Patriots. If people wanted them in Missouri, it’s easy to imagine how high the tension actually was. Robert Kraft’s $172 million was enough to keep the team in their state, but Kraft did so much more for the team and his fans.
Once he was in charge, he made a financial commitment to Gillette Stadium, so his team could have a home base. He negotiated media deals, thanks to his work as a board member of Viacom, including a lucrative one with Amazon. This contract turned out to be a boon for his fans as much as it was to his players, as now the NFL audience can watch Thursday night football with the right streaming package.
Bringing People Together
In the NFL, Kraft can tell you that you meet all kinds of people. The different personalities are, to a certain extent, what make the league as successful as it is. However, it’s also an environment that’s ripe for clashes. Kraft has spent his life helping people come together, which is one of the biggest reasons why peers and subordinates alike call for his indication into the Hall of Fame.