<
>

Michael Jackson began Pats' turnaround

Michael Jackson didn't directly help the New England Patriots win three Super Bowls.

But if not for the King of Pop, the butterfly effect likely would have altered history for the worse.

As Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio first noted and Chad Finn of the Boston Globe revisited, Jackson played a significant role in Robert Kraft's eventual purchase of the team.

Previous owner Chuck Sullivan, who sold the team to Victor Kiam but kept Foxboro Stadium, used the arena as collateral to finance the Jackson family's Victory Tour, a massive flop in 1984. Sullivan also paid $18 million to own Jackson's merchandising rights for five years.

Sullivan went bankrupt and was forced to sell the stadium in 1988.

Kraft bought it for $25 million. Kiam sold the team to James Busch Orthwein, who then begrudgingly sold to Kraft for $172 million. Orthwein wanted to move the team to his hometown of St. Louis or sell it, but Kraft had negotiating rights, forcing any prospective buyers to go through him.

Kraft turned the Patriots around by hiring the right people to run football operations.

"To this day Kraft's collection of photos and mementos includes a poster from the ill-fated tour," Monte Burke wrote in "Unlikely Dynasty" a 2005 Forbes cover story on the Patriots.