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Emotional Kraft discusses 'his sweetheart,' NFL labor peace, Pats' season

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  August 10, 2011 02:09 PM

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft met with reporters on the field inside Gillette Stadium this afternoon, speaking publicly for the first time since the death of his beloved wife, Myra, three weeks ago.

He was understandably emotional as he discussed his "sweetheart," her legacy, the coming season for the Patriots - and even a little politics.

And he also dropped some positive news: Kraft said "you'll probably see our good friend Logan Mankins signed up soon, hopefully to be a Patriot for life."

We will be posting Kraft's comments as we transcribe them; here is his opening statement:

"First of all, I’d like to thank you all for the tone and respect you’ve given our family over the last few weeks and…this is been a different kind of time and our fans have been great, we have gotten letters and people supporting us from all over the world and I am committed to read every tweet, email, letter – I have two boxes of letters that are still packed and the reach of my sweetheart is unbelieveable. And I’m happy to say that as of this moment, the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund has raised over $3 million – the bulk of which has come from people we don’t know giving $10 and $20 gifts. And what that really means is, it plants the seed for her legacy of giving back to communities that we are going to be adding to that fund and do things that are going to help this region and help people who want to volunteer, people in need, for generations to come.

"So…football’s back in Foxborough. You know, just looking out over this season and what’s happening, I want you to know we worked very hard and we’re proud that we have labor peace for the next 10 years and we also have a sport where we have 32 teams that are all going to be able to compete and keep this sport vibrant and we’re going to grow this business and tie it into our communities even more, but it requires good planning and one of the things I’m most proud of coming into this season is we knew this was coming and we made an effort to tie up our key veterans – people like (Tom) Brady, (Stephen) Gostkowski, and Vince Wilfork – knowing that this was coming and now that you have this quick period that you have to react in, we’re able to get a lot of seasoned veterans on shorter-term contracts, people like Albert (Haynesworth) and Chad (Ochocinco) and Andre (Carter) and Shaun Ellis, someone who’s been playing in our division for over a decade so he knows it pretty well, and as you look out and you look to the playoffs at the end of this year, I think you’ll see that those teams that had stability, both in terms of their coaching, their offensive/defensive coordinators and quarterback, the teams with stability have the best chance, in my opinion, of making the playoffs. It doesn’t guarantee it, and so I hope that us locking up our core veterans, and bringing in these seasoned veterans as I call them, and probably you’ll see our good friend Logan Mankins will be signed up soon, hopefully to be a Patriot for life – that couldn’t have happened if we didn’t do our planning before the lockout, so I just want you to know that that’s been done with a lot of thought and a lot of planning and we hope to have a lot of fun here in Foxborough."

Were you aware of impact Myra was having during her life?
"My sweetheart proposed to me the first date, when she was 19 and I was 20. We were together for almost 50 years, so I had the best seat, with the best person on the planet. I don’t know that she understood the global reach but what she did and how she impacted people that we have to keep that legacy going and we will continue to do it as a family."

How do you continue that legacy?
"Well my boys and myself have spent a lot of time planning and you’re right – she did do that and it’s unbelievable, from all parts of the world. I even heard she was like the number one global tweet for four hours or something – I never paid attention to tweeting, but she never wanted accolades, she just…you should, some of the letters I’m getting…we’re going to dedicate (the season) in her honor, dedicated the season to her, and volunteerism, I think one of the greatest institutions is our armed forces and the volunteers there, but we’re going to take the bulk of the income from this endowment and give it to young people who volunteer back and serve their communities but the same time, we’ve decided, and this is something that would make Myra happy – a lot of people are hurting now, we get lots of letters from people with emergency situations, one-time things, so we’re going to create an emergency fund for this state, maybe New England, for people that can come to us because of one-time needs and help people who are in trouble and do that in her name. So we’ll do our best."

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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