Owning up to the pain
Patriots’ defeat still hurts Kraft
Speaking for more than 20 minutes to a group of reporters yesterday after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave his annual state of the league address, Kraft was candid in his assessment of New England’s surprising 28-21 defeat in the divisional round.
When asked what was missing that day, Kraft’s quick response gave a reminder that he was a Patriots fan long before he was their owner.
“I don’t know, a good game plan? You’ve got to hand it to the Jets, they came in and they did a good job,’’ Kraft said. “And actually, if you think about it, we drove down the field on those first two drives. Tommy [Brady] was unbelievable. He had  games without an interception and then threw that lazy interception [on a screen pass in the first quarter].
“They go down and they miss the field goal and then we come and drive right down again and we throw one in the end zone, it gets dropped. We get 3 points. We [try] the fake punt, which we hadn’t done all year, and it gets bobbled and it was wide open by the way, if we had executed.
“We didn’t get the breaks, and the Jets did a great job. We’re very sad, I can tell you.’’
Later in the day on WEEI, Kraft said the comment about the Patriots’ game plan was taken out of context, and that the Jets had a great game plan.
While Kraft is clearly still bothered by the result of that game, he sounded more optimistic on Logan Mankins.
Kraft, who will be one of a few owners in the room when the league and players’ union meet today for a negotiating session aimed at a new collective bargaining agreement, was asked if the Patriots plan to use the franchise tag on their Pro Bowl guard, and if they would then expect a legal fight.
“Logan Mankins is one of the best players on the team and I think there’s been a little misunderstanding about some things that have been written,’’ Kraft said. “I just personally want to say, I hope he’s with us for a long term and we’re going to try to do whatever we have to do to make sure that happens.’’
Asked if the team is in negotiations with Mankins on a long-term extension, Kraft said, “I’m just going to leave it at that.’’
Later, when asked to clarify what he meant about “a little misunderstanding,’’ Kraft said it was in the media, though he didn’t specify. However, he added, “Just speaking for myself, Logan’s a great player and I hope he’s with us long term.’’
Two other Patriots-related topics Kraft touched on were Brady’s foot surgery and the prospect of a Super Bowl being staged in New England.
On whether he could provide a timeline for Brady’s recovery, Kraft said, “We spent a little time before he left. He has such a great attitude. The only good part about us losing that [playoff] game to the Jets was he could get that done right away and have a longer time to heal.’’
The Dallas-Fort Worth area has been hit with freezing temperatures, an ice storm early Tuesday, and Thursday night snowfall, which have made travel difficult.
The weather has only increased concerns about how things will be handled in Indianapolis and New York, cold-weather sites, for Super Bowls XLVI and XLVIII.
But those sites, like New England, are more capable of dealing with inclement weather, leading Kraft to wonder if the NFL should bring the Super Bowl to Foxborough.
“I woke up this morning and my [wife Myra] says to me, ‘Wow, it’s snowing. We should have a game in New England,’ ’’ Kraft said. “And you know, when I supported New York — and I did for a lot of reasons — I’m thinking about it, maybe we should have a Super Bowl in New England, maybe we should get on the list.
“We have a lot of great things in Boston, Providence, and New England. We have the hotel rooms, we have everything. I love games that are played in the elements. I think our snow game against Oakland [in the 2001 postseason] was one of the greatest games ever played.
“And think about it, here we have this situation with the weather and there are 5,000 members of the media show up . . . The weather, I think, will help us have record TV ratings. So maybe we should consider a Super Bowl in Boston, I don’t know.’’