Robert Kraft and the Patriots Charitable Foundation opened up the Fidelity Clubhouse at Gillette Stadium tonight to 250 children from Massachusetts and Rhode Island social-service agencies for the annual Salvation Army holiday party.
As players Jerod Mayo, Zoltan Mesko, Gary Guyton, Rob Gronkowski and Dane Fletcher served slices of pizza to the appreciative kids, Vince Wilfork, Shayne Graham, Matthew Slater, Sammy Morris, Brandon Meriweather and Deion Branch made the rounds at tables, signing autographs and spending a few moments with the kids.
Before the games started -- including the ever-popular "Wrap-A-Pat", pictured here -- Robert Kraft spent 10 minutes chatting about the Pats in the postseason and the good feelings he's getting from this team.
On clinching a playoff berth Sunday against Chicago
The real present is if we give our fans a home playoff game. Hopefully that can happen this weekend. But it was pretty cool. This is our 12th year of making the playoffs; having owned the team 17 years, it's really exciting to think about when we first bought the team, there had been one home playoff game in 34 years, which they lost to Houston in '78. My grandkids have grown up in an era where they've had lots of home playoff games. It's not the way I grew up, or my sons grew up
On what is most impressive about the team
They just look like kids out there having a good time. Thereís a karma and a chemistry with this team Ė itís pretty special. And you can feel it when you walk in the locker room, both before the game and after the game. I think whatís evolved over the last seven, eight games is thereís a sense of confidence and these guys, the locker room is a very positive atmosphere and itís a nuance thatís hard to understand if you donít see it all the time. Itís sort of like walking through a factory and you can see whether the morale of the workers is positive or not. Itís a very upbeat kind of feeling, thereís a camaraderie, and you see how new people come in and they can integrate very quickly into the system because it is so inviting.
Was that missing last year?
I think so, yes. From my point of view it was not the same last year.
If the team's mental toughness has changed
Yes. In my mind itís changed. Thereís a great espirit de corps, that I donít know whatís going to happen here but itís very positive and something that at least you have a chance to win when you have that kind of feeling because in every game things are not going to go your way and itís how people react. Now weíve had the privilege of getting out ahead the last couple of games and then really turning it on, and that makes a differenceÖOne of the things I was really proud of in the game in Chicago, we had no turnovers against their four, and it was in their home field, so turnovers make a BIG difference in the game.