Playoff loss still haunts Kraft


Back at NFL’s Annual Meeting in March, Patriots owner Robert Kraft openly offered up his feelings on how the playoff loss to the Ravens — particularly because it happened at haunt — left a sting he hadn’t felt before.

So when I caught up with him Monday in Dallas at the Spring Meeting, I figured I’d ask if the hurt had at all subsided. His emotions, it seems, have not changed.

“Horrible. Horrible,” Kraft responded. “And it’s still there until we start playing. I don’t remember a game that important where we played the way we played in that game for the first five, 10 minutes since I’ve owned the team. Hopefully, we’ve flushed that out of our system.”

The process took another step this week, with the start of OTAs. And because of the way 2009 ended, he sure is excited to see a new beginning come into focus.

“I’m excited about this year’s team,” Kraft said. “I’ve seen this rookie draft class, and I don’t know what it is, it’s just … You look at last year, we still have all 12 young men that were drafted as part of the system. We drafted 12 more this year and hopefully at least eight or 10 can remain with the team, and if that happens, 40 percent of our team is young, energetic and talented.

“But this is a game, no matter how excited you get, there are factors that happen, that you just can’t plan for. It’s a business of quality depth management. I think we’ve got some depth this year, and we hope that everyone works hard. We have a real tough schedule, but I’m excited. I can’t wait for football to be back. “

He added, “There’s something about walking around, you can’t just smell things sometimes. I think our fans should look forward to this upcoming season.”

The hope, he said, is that the team is over the losses of some big personalities (Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour) in that locker room and now, after a transitional period, can re-establish its old ethos.

Kraft, at least, is optimistic about the possibility.

“We lost a lot in our locker room, and hopefully we have that mental toughness and leadership back in the locker room that maybe wasn’t what it should’ve been last year,” Kraft said. “In the end, it’s a business of execution. You can talk all you want. We’ll see what happens on the field.”


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