The passing of Myra Kraft, the wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and mother of team president Jonathan Kraft, will hit the organization hard, from the very top to the bottom.
She was the moral compass for the team and her husband as he dealt with the struggles of being a young owner after he purchased the team in 1994. Mrs. Kraft, who was president and driving force for the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, wanted the Patriots to be a source of pride on and off the field.
“On behalf of the entire Patriots football operation, we mourn the passing of Myra Kraft,” coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “As much support as her quiet but unmistakable presence provided us in the competitive arena and as much as I personally will miss her warm embraces before and after each game, Myra shined brightest in a much broader arena. In the humanitarian arena, her generosity through philanthropy was admired and appreciated by all. She made a permanent impression on hundreds of coaches, players, staff and our families as a model of grace, strength and giving. Myra’s vision and example will impact and remain very much with our team forever.”
Current and former players also offered their condolences.
“We have lost 1 of the greatest women I know & hands down the finest in all of sports w/ the passing of Mrs. Myra Kraft,” former fullback Heath Evans said on his Twitter account.. “What made Myra Kraft special? Strong but Tender-hearted/Proud but Humble/Bold but Soft-Spoken/ Extremely blessed but lived to be a Blessing.”
Current defensive captain Vince Wilfork, via Twitter: “A wonderful life lost…Luv ya Myra “momma”
Linebacker Jerod Mayo: “I am extremely saddened with the passing of Myra Kraft. [She] has been a mainstay in the community and the Patriots family. Her giving spirit along with her countless random acts of kindness and philanthropy will continue to be a legacy to be remembered.”
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis: “First I would like to extend my prayers and sincere condolences to the Kraft family during this difficult time.
“Mrs Kraft was a wonderful, kind, gentle and warm spirited lady. Even though she was battling cancer she still found time to give back to the community (a true philanthropist) and the Patriots players. She had this way of making you feel special.”
Linebacker Dane Fletcher, via Twitter: “RIP Myra Kraft… Thoughts & prayers go out to Mr. Kraft and the Kraft family, she was a very unique & special person!”
Former receiver Donte Stallworth on Twitter: “Great family, great ownership that really cares about EVERY player! My condolences to the Krafts.”
Former safety Lawyer Milloy on Twitter: “I’m truly heartbroken today. Myra Kraft has passed away. With my Brisk departure from #Boston, she is the one person that I regret not saying goodbye [to]. As a young player/man she was a gr8 example of how a woman stands beside, not behind, a man of power! I never got a chance to say thanks 4 that lasting impression. R.I.P. You will be missed.”
Taylor Twellman, the retired former star of the New England Revolution, which the Krafts also owned (via Twitter): “Today is a very sad day. Myra Kraft in ’02 when I came to Boston opened her arms to me and made me feel like her son. And will forever remember what Myra/Robert meant to me and my parents when I signed for NERevolution. My 2nd set of parents were n Boston!”
Former quarterback Scott Zolak on Twitter: “Sad day for all in Patriot Nation, Myra Kraft will be missed by all connected to this franchise. She did so much good for so many people.”
Everyone associated with the NFL, especially fans, will owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Kraft for his decision to play a key role in these labor talks while he was also dealing behind the scenes with his wife’s illness. It has been a very long and trying few months for the entire Kraft family, yet Mr. Kraft was a constant presence at the negotiations.
“On behalf of all NFL players, I want to offer my deepest sympathies to Bob and the Kraft family,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement. “I know how much he loves Myra. We mourn her loss and my heart goes out to a great man and his family. Myra will be missed.”
Matt Light, the Patriots’ free agent left tackle who has been with the team for 10 years, also spoke to reporters at the NFLPA meetings and offered some heartfelt feelings.
“She wasn’t someone we saw like Robert or Jonathan and the rest of the family but her impact was felt in many other ways,” Light said via NFL Network. “And just the things she did, in that community, and what that did for guys on the team. I mean, it really drove me to do a lot to give back and find my little niche to be a part of that community. I’ll tell you, she’s an incredible person. She really was.
“It’s amazing how much one person can do.”
In Atlanta where NFL owners are assembling for a special meeting tomorrow, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson sought out reporters to offer his condolences.
“Myra has been very, very sick for a good while now and just before I left Charlotte, I got the news that she had passed away,” Richardson said. “I came into the league about the same time Robert did, and over the years, obviously we have a sort of unique bond through the fact that we did come in together, and our families are very close. Myra and my wife are very close. I’m devastated and my best wishes and hope is that Robert’s and his family’s grief will pass as quickly as it can.”
Mr. Kraft always referred to his wife as “my sweetheart,” even while speaking to reporters.
Mrs. Kraft is also survived by three other sons. Daniel is president-international of the Kraft Group, Josh is president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, and the youngest, David, also works with the Kraft Group.