With last night’s Super Bowl loss spelling the end of the 2011/12 campaign, the Patriots were back in Foxboro this afternoon where they were greeted by a pretty good crowd of fans who were there to welcome them back to Gillette Stadium.


Patriots owner Robert Kraft still ended up with one trophy this season. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Shortly after Patriots owner Robert Kraft addressed the media issuing a statement, but not taking any questions.  During his speech he praised what he felt was one of the more memorable seasons he’s had in a long time.

“I must tell you, the strength of spirit that I saw with this team is unlike any other team I’ve seen in my 18 years in the NFL,” Kraft said on Monday. “I think that sense of spirit was ignited by our fans, the way they supported our team and also the way they supported our family. That’s something I’m forever going to be grateful for, because I think this was a memorable season and one that I won’t forget for a long time.”

The team dedicated the season to his wife, Myra Kraft, who passed away last year.  They were one game away from a title, which would have been an amazing end to what he felt was a special season.  However, he acknowledged that the odds of getting there – let along winning one – are generally a longshot in today’s NFL.

“You have a six percent chance of going to the Super Bowl and a 3 percent chance of winning.” said Kraft. “I think the coaching staff and players really did a remarkable job this year. ”

Sunday night’s loss was their second straight Super Bowl defeat to the Giants, and their fifth trip back during Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s quarterback-coach tenure.  The team also played in it following the 1996 season, giving Kraft an unprecedented sixth appearance in his 18 years of ownership.  Kraft pointed out that during his tenure as owner, the bar is set high and they’ve only had two losing seasons.

“I thought back, this is our 18th year of ownership of the team, and in those 18 years, we’ve had two seasons that are losing seasons – 1995 when we went 6-10 and 2000 when we went 5-11. In the next 16 years, we were able to have winning [or .500] seasons – we went to seven AFC Championship games and six Super Bowls. I think what’s happened is that we’ve set a level of expectation here that is high. I’m very happy with that and it’s the way we run all of our businesses. ”

For now there will likely be some personnel decisions made this offseason, with the club currently having to decide what to do about the 20 free agents they have.  Despite the loss Kraft says that they’re not going to overreact, nor will it affect how they’ve done things heading into next year.

“We’re not going to change the way we run things,” said Kraft.  “Look, we’re all disappointed in what happened. The beauty of the NFL, and – I can say this as chair of the broadcast committee – the reason the networks pay us the large fees they do is that no one knows what is going to happen in a game – head coach, quarterback, owner, d-linemen. No one knows. It’s two or three plays that make the difference but makes the game so exciting.”