The one most relevant to you guys? Well, if you’re one of the fans uninterested in the CBA negotiations (I know there are a lot of you … and we’ll have that stuff in a minute anyway), then Tom Brady’s contract situation was at the forefront. Kraft was asked if there’s a timetable for that to be resolved. And, well, he wasn’t about to share that info. But he did offer this:
“Look, we are so lucky to have Tom Brady,” Kraft told the Sirius guys. “He’s under contract. He’s here. I’m privileged to have a pretty special relationship with him. And I think he knows how I feel about him. I think we both want to solve the problem, or the issue. I don’t know that it’s a problem … it’s complicated.
“We basically have had a policy that we keep all those conversations between the principals, so it’s not something we’re going to discuss or do in the media. But we’re very lucky to have him here.”
Kraft was then asked for his feelings on Brady spending chunks of the offseason in California, and on that, he was pretty clear. He’d rather have everyone in Foxborough. But he understands when players have other obligations.
“If we had our druthers, we’d prefer that all our players would be here year-round to work out,” he said. “There is a certain chemistry with the team that develops that way. But, in fairness, as players mature and grow older, they have responsibilities. When Tom first joined us, he was single. He’s now married with (children), as many of our players are.
“Rodney Harrison, there wasn’t a more dedicated team guy, and I didn’t feel great when he went down to Atlanta and was with his family there. And he’d come back and, man, he didn’t miss a beat. He’d kick in and play hard. So there are a lot of different … it’s hard to sit in judgment of what’s right or wrong. In the end, when he’s around, things are pretty special. We hope he’s here as much as he can be.”
And then the talk turned to the CBA.
With Kraft being among the NFL’s most influential figures, he’s a power player in these talks, and he continues to try and take an optimistic tone.
“Our focus is reaching an agreement, and I feel pretty confident we will reach an agreement,” Kraft said. “The only question is when. A work stoppage, besides being very disappointing to the fans in 2011, would be very expensive for everyone. It would be costly for both sides. But the bottom line is the CBA doesn’t expire until March of 2011, and we have a wonderful year of football in front of us. That’s gonna be my main focus.”
The part about a workout stoppage being “expensive” seemed to be targeted at the union’s contention that the league has been amassing a “lockout fund” to ride out the potential time off.
At the heart of that is the broadcast contract that, the union says, guarantees the league $4 billion even if there’s a work stoppage. The PA is currently taking league action to figure if that deal was negotiated with the idea of a lockout in mind.
“I try not to have opinions on why other people do things,” Kraft responded. “I chair the broadcast committee and I’m pretty proud of those agreements we negotiated. I think the biggest beneficiaries of those agreements are the players, because they’re getting 60 percent of the revenues.
“So I think what both sides have to be smart here in realizing is we have something very special, in that the American public wants our product, as long as we don’t irritate the America public. They don’t want to hear quarreling among well-to-do people on either side. They just want to have this entertainment product that is so special, and is the reason the networks are paying us all this money. And the biggest beneficiaries are the players.”