...His muscle. That's what Patriots owner Robert Kraft did this week in lobbying for the Patriots' Dec. 18 game against the Denver Broncos to remain on CBS at 4:15 p.m. instead of being flexed to NBC's Sunday Night Football and an 8:20 p.m. start.
Kraft used his clout to create a possible competitive advantage for the Patriots, and he should be applauded for it.
Kraft is chairman of the NFL's broadcast committee, and the decision to keep Ravens-Chargers as the Sunday night tilt has been portrayed as a matter of fairness because CBS lost a chance to broadcast the Broncos and Tebow-mania on Dec. 4.
Successful businessmen don't become successful by making sure every deal they make is fair. Kraft, who has a business relationship with CBS through the CBS Scene restaurant, saw an opportunity to protect his team and help his business partners at the same time, and he did.
The Patriots were wary of playing a night game in Denver, two time zones away from home, then having to take a red-eye flight back and arriving around 5 a.m. on Monday, especially when factoring in they have to play Miami on a short week.
Kraft acted in the best interests of the NFL during the labor negotiations and used his influence to cultivate a new CBA. In this case he did what you want your power-wielding owner to do -- he served his team.
...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.