Robert and Myra Kraft’s NFL legacy will last long after the details of the lockout are forgotten.
Yesterday the NFL and its players association reached an agreement to stop the madness. The great NFL lockout of 2011 is over.
The best moment to come from all of this was at the press conference announcing the agreement. In fact, it might be the only positive moment. “A special thanks to Myra Kraft, who even in her weakest moment allowed Mr. Kraft to come and fight this out,” player rep Jeff Saturday said. “Without him, this deal does not get done.” Saturday then hugged a partially unshaven Robert Kraft. Mr. Kraft quickly stated during the embrace that it “means a lot” to him.
I first heard just the audio yesterday afternoon. That was touching. However, once you get the images to go along with it — my heavens. The back story makes these events even more indelible. As you know, Bob Kraft’s wife, Myra, passed away last week. Both sides took Friday off to observe her memory. As Kraft became an integral part of the negotiations, for both sides, not simply the owners, everyone seemed to feel deeply the heartache of the Kraft family. This was never clearer than in yesterday’s press conference.
Even during trying times, Kraft kept it all in perspective, “I hope we gave a little lesson to the people in Washington, because the debt crisis is a lot easier to fix than this deal was,” he remarked towards Democrats and Republicans in D.C.
Even with all that has been going on with the Kraft family, he was able to help broker this deal while tending to the needs of his family. The image above might be the sports photograph of the year thus far.
The image of a 300-pound offensive lineman bringing his massive right arm around Kraft has a lasting impression. I’m not sure it needs to be mentioned, but, remember, these two men have long been associated with one of the fiercest rivalries in all of football—Patriots and Colts. As the stories of Kraft uniting both sides started to leak out over the past few weeks, I largely ignored them—as I did most lockout coverage. Most of the rest of the stories will quickly be buried in the past, as an unimportant consequence of this lockout.
Everyone will do a winners and losers column — who ended up coming out on top in this lockout scenario? It’s a subjective question. That is, except for one man.
Robert Kraft just sealed his legacy as one of the most important figures in this generation’s NFL.
I believe the line after the 2001 season Super Bowl win was, “Today we are all Patriots.” Back then it was a rallying call for Americans after the September 11th attacks. Today, it is a call for at least a brief moment of unity among all football fans.
Myra Kraft touched a lot of lives through her charitable work. The memorial service this past Friday was filled with friends from the past and present. They all remembered ways in which Myra helped them at some point in time. That’s what she did. Then there was the story of a family trip to South Africa, which was apartheid-ridden at the time. Even on a vacation of sorts, she couldn’t stop attempting to assist others.
Jonathan Kraft told the story last week. He recalled how his mom tried to step in when a white police officer was taking some black men into custody. She asked the reason for the arrests. The officer said that the men didn’t have the proper papers to be out on the street after dusk. To this Myra asked why she was not being arrested, as she did not have such papers either. Jonathan went on to explain how his dad had told him not to let his mother get in trouble. Her nature was never to let some in need go without her help. As the story goes; Jonathan threw his mother over his shoulder and took her away.
On Monday, July 25th, she provided her trademark assistance once more.