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Kraft thanks fans for sticking with Patriots

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  February 6, 2012 04:47 PM

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kraft.jpgPatriots owner Robert Kraft addressed the media this afternoon upon the team's return from Indianapolis.

His comments, as provided by the team's media relations staff:

"I want to take this opportunity just to say, first of all, thank you to all the media here who have done such a great job covering us all year and also to the fans. When we dedicated this season to my sweetheart, I met with the players and coaches and asked them to do everything they could do to make this season special in her honor. The fact that we had I believe it was 18 undrafted free agents and we’re changing the team and we started out 5-3. I think our fans were just terrific the way they stayed with us.

I must tell you that the strength of spirit that I saw with this team is unlike any other team I’ve seen in my 18 years in the NFL. I think that that sense of spirit was ignited by our fans – the way they supported our team and also the way they supported our family. That’s something I’m forever going to be grateful for because I think this was a memorable season and one that I won’t forget for a long time. You have a six percent chance of going to the Super Bowl and three percent chance of winning. I think the coaching staff and players really did a remarkable job this year.

I’ve thought back – this is our 18th year of owning the team. In those 18 years, we’ve had two seasons that were losing seasons – in 1995, when we went 6-10 and in 2000, when we went 5-11. The next 16 years we were able to have winning seasons. We went to seven AFC Championship Games and six Super Bowls. I think what’s happened is, we have set a level of expectation here that is high. I’ve very happy with that and it’s the way we run all of our businesses.

I’m actually very excited about the core group of players we have on this team, about the young players that have come in. I’m also excited that we have two [first-round draft picks] and two [second-round draft picks] in this upcoming draft. I really want to say to those fans who supported us all year and who came out even now, even though we arrived early, it’s just unbelievable to me. I’ve felt it all week. It’s the first time I’ve ever spent eight days in Indianapolis and there were a lot of wonderful Patriot fans there and they have continued to support our team and our family. We’re not going to change the way we run things.

Look, we’re all disappointed in what happened. The beauty of the NFL and the reason, I can say this as Chair of the Broadcast Committee, the reason that the networks pay us the large fees that they do is that no one knows what is going to happen in a game – head coach, quarterback, owner, D-linemen – no one knows. It’s two or three plays that make the difference; that makes the game so exciting. I’m very proud of this team and what they accomplished this year. I will forever remember the special effort that the fans have given and the support they have given to my family and to this team. I thank you all for the coverage. Most of you had to travel back I guess pretty late to get here, so thank you.

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

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