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Archive for March, 2011

Rush To Judgement On Robert Kraft

The Patriots owner came under some criticism for not being at the extended week of NFL labor meetings between the players and the owners. Mr. Kraft was in Israel during this time period, and as a result, he found himself under some scrutiny by several Boston sports radio personalities, and one Patriot player. I believe this criticism is unfair. There was a good reason he was not there, and not all of the information about his trip had really become public until recently. I feel there was a rush to judgment on Robert Kraft.

Let me start by saying that I don’t always agree with everything that¬†Patriots ownership has done over the years. I have been critical of¬†their¬†approach¬†in handling contract negotiations with their¬†own players. I also have been outspoken regarding some of the pricing at Gillette Stadium.

In this case though I feel Mr. Kraft is being criticized unfairly based on his reasons for being in Israel. First of all, he was in all of the meetings leading up to the original deadline that was then extended one day. Both sides then decided to add another week to continue to negotiate.

It is pretty obvious that Mr. Kraft had already made plans to go to Israel that week as part of an economic initiative with the Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick. Mr. Kraft and the governor were trying to bring more business back to the state of Massachusetts. If they were able to convince Israeli companies to have offices in Massachusetts, it could lead to more jobs and an improved economy.

The Krafts’ own several businesses and not just the New England Patriots. Mr. Kraft goes to Israel every year, and this time it doesn’t sound like it was a pleasure trip. It was¬†definitely for business reasons.¬†

Now, would I have liked Bob Kraft to have been there the extended week? The answer to that is absolutely yes, but I understand why he kept his commitment to the governor and went to Israel.  

Based on what Jonathan Kraft stated, according to an ESPN.com article, his father was on the phone and answered emails regarding the labor negotiations the week he was in Israel. I will have quotes later from Jonathan Kraft that enforce my opinion that there was a rush to judgement.

Matt Light¬†was interviewed by The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young.¬† He was¬†disappointed that Mr. Kraft was not present. Below are quotes from Matt Light.¬†¬†¬†

“No doubt, 100 percent. I‚Äôm not going to lie to you,” Light said. “Look, again, like (former Pats LB Mike) Vrabel stated, like everyone else has said, we had people in that room that could get a deal done at any point. Do I know how they‚Äôre structured within the league? No, I have no clue.

“But I can tell you one thing: they [league negotiators] didn‚Äôt seem to have the ability to do any of that when they had to the leave the room, make a phone call, you guys representing the league. If it was me, I was in that model, I would have every one of my guys in those seats making sure that we had one voice and we could get a deal done.”

I have also heard a few sports radio personalities strongly criticize Mr. Kraft for not being at these meetings. I disagree with these hosts, because I believe Kraft was more involved than they know in the negotiations. Plus, he was heavily involved in the talks leading up to the point of extending the negotiations.   

Well, now we have comments from Jonathan Kraft who met with the media on Monday. He was asked many questions. Here are his quotes regarding the comments of Matt Light courtesy of Mike Reiss and ESPNBoston.com.

“I respect Matt and I appreciate Matt’s comments,” he said. “We do a lot of things other than just the New England Patriots, and something that is particularly important to Robert is the economy of Massachusetts and job creation — not just for people in the football industry but across the Commonwealth. This is a trade mission that had been worked on for a long time. Israel is a real center of high tech and a lot of Israeli companies are choosing to pick Massachusetts as their U.S. headquarters. This is about solidifying that and having more companies feel comfortable to come to Massachusetts and create jobs in Massachusetts. It was something he personally had been working on for a long time and he wasn’t going to give that up.”¬†

  

 

There are times to criticize Robert Kraft. However, considering the real problems surrounding the labor negotiations, there are clearly bigger issues than his absense, and I doubt had he been present that things would have been any different.

Needless to say as a result, I don’t think¬†his trip to Israel is one of those¬†situations.

Everyone Loses With The NFL Lockout

Call me naive, but I was really hopeful that a new collective bargaining¬†agreement¬†between the NFL¬†players and the¬†owners would be agreed upon by last Friday’s deadline.

I couldn’t imagine that either side would want this situation to go through the courts. Well, that is exactly what is now going on. The owners have locked out the players, and that¬†has led to¬†decertification for the NFLPA. So who are the winners and the losers in this situation?¬†Along with the players and the¬†owners, there are other groups who are affected.

How about the fans who might not have football next season? 

How about the businesses around each stadium who depend on the revenue from the games?

In the end everyone loses with this lockout.


Patriots owner Robert Kraft sounded hopeful that a lockout could be avoided, but now there is uncertainty over the future while the two sides remain at odds over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

The owners lose because they have to deal with the uncertainty of not having revenue coming in from the games when they would begin in August. They also have to deal with less money being spent on products associated with their teams. A lockout also is a public relations nightmare because their customers, the fans are definitely not happy with the threat of no football in 2011.

The players lose because they don’t know the next time they will see a paycheck.¬†The players who make big money might not be affected as much, but how about those players making the league minimum? Their careers are short enough. The players cannot be happy that they could lose a¬†significant amount of money if a work stoppage takes away football in 2011.

The businesses that make money from game-day near the stadiums are affected by this lockout. Many businesses obviously make significant money around these stadiums on the days of the games. Their futures could certainly be affected by a lockout. 

Lastly let’s not forget the customers of the NFL. The fans are the ones who¬†ultimately pay for the players and owners to fight over $9 billion dollars.¬†We have to deal with the uncertainty of there not being a season as well. With the financial situation in our country right now I think it might be hard for many fans to feel sorry for millionaires and billionaires.¬†

This lockout could lead to a backlash from the fans. Remember how long it took Major League Baseball to recover from their strike? It took many years for the game to fully recover. The players and owners are in jeopardy of losing fans who might not come back right away.

As a fan I really don’t care who is at fault for the lockout.¬†For me¬†there is¬†plenty of blame to go around on both sides. I am not picking sides. I just want football.

Going through the courts and having this situation dragged out for a long time affects everyone. I say to both sides get back to the table and start negotiating once again. They need to compromise and the time is now. Both sides should be committed to getting a deal done.

If both sides cannot workout their differences, they can ruin a game that has made them all a tremendous amount of money. It is time to do the right thing for the owners and the players.

Get back to the table now because everyone loses with the NFL lockout.