By: Christine Roy
Ever since 1994, the Patriots have been the franchise to watch. That year Robert Kraft took over the team and this town immediately got behind him. After the finalization of the sale on February 26, 1994, Pats fans bought 5,968 season tickets, which is a Patriots single-day sales record. It’s as if fans knew that as soon as Kraft took over, this team would be on the rise.
Ever since he took over the head coaching duties in 2000, Bill Belichick has brought winning ways to Foxboro. (FILE:USPresswire)
It didn’t take Kraft long to get the ball moving. In 2000, Bill Belichick came back to Foxboro following a short stint in 1996 as the assistant head coach and secondary coach. This time around, it was his team, his rules, as Kraft appointed him the head coach. He drafted a Michigan quarterback named Tom Brady that year and little did we know how much he would change this franchise in just a matter of two years. All it took was an injury to starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe and Brady was given his shot. As it turned out that’s all he needed because once he game into the game, he never left.
In 2001, after the infamous “tuck rule” game against Oakland, Brady found himself in the AFC Championship game against the ever popular Pittsburgh Steelers. During that game he injured his ankle and was relieved by Bledsoe but that was short lived as he was healthy enough to come back and lead his team to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI. He was named the MVP and was at the time, the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. Talk about an impressive season. From backup to Super Bowl MVP, Brady showed his worth to his team and his town.
These days we are used to seeing players have outstanding seasons only to fall off the next year and then fade into the darkness. Luckily for Patriots fans, that’s far from the case with Brady. After his impressive performance in 2001, he came back to win it all again just two seasons later, and then again in 2004. Brady certainly has cemented his name among the greats like Joe Montana and John Elway and it’s become pretty clear, this sixth round pick turned out to be a pretty good one for the Patriots.
While Brady has been busy carrying this team on his back for the past 12 seasons, Kraft has been carrying the franchise, and at times, the league. We all remember preparing for a season without football as the lockout closed in on the start of the NFL season in 2011. But fortunately, it never came to that. Why? A big reason is because of the work done by Kraft. Even while his wife Myra was suffering and battling cancer, she was encouraging him to get a deal done. It can be argued that no one worked harder than Kraft to get the season underway. He was seen at all the meetings and gained a lot of respect from those around the league. Without his heart and dedication, the 2011 season may have never been.
Kraft has done a tremendous job building this franchise as well as his brand. His net worth is in the billions and just take a look at the way Gillette Stadium has changed since it replaced the old Foxboro Stadium. No longer is it just a place to tailgate before a game, now it’s a destination. Need to do a little shopping? It has that. How about see a movie? Yup, you can do that too. Just want to grab some Five Guys or a drink at Bar Louie? You can do that, plus visit one of the other 19 places to eat. Not to mention relive some history at the Hall at Patriots Place. Kraft seems to be a man of endless possibilities and the town of Foxboro sure is benefiting from his economic boost.
So while other teams struggle with personnel changes and dissatisfied fans, the Patriots have a winning culture that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. We’ve been fortunate enough to have one of the greatest coaching/quarterback duos in history and we should continue to enjoy it. Over the past 13 years we’ve seen the Patriots win 3 Super Bowls, 5 AFC Championships and 10 AFC East titles. Not to mention we’ve witnessed some of the greatest players to ever play the game.
Now take some time to look around the league and ask yourself, who has it better than us?