Emotional Kraft reflects, talks shop

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In an emotional meeting with reporters, in which he reflected on the memory of his wife Myra and also hinted at the possibility of a long-term contract with offensive lineman Logan Mankins, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft kicked off the start of the 2011 preseason by declaring “football is back in Foxborough.”

Kraft opened by thanking reporters for the “tone and respect” that has been given to his family over the past two weeks. He then paused to compose himself.

“We have gotten letters and people supporting us from all over the world. I am committed to read every tweet, e-mail, letter. I have two boxes of letters that are still packed. The reach of my sweetheart is unbelievable,” Kraft said, adding that the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund has already raised more than $3 million.

Kraft wore a pin with Myra Kraft’s initials, “MHK”, on the left side of his suit jacket. Players and coaches will wear the “MHK” patch throughout the season as the 2011 campaign has been dedicated to her memory.

"I don't know that she understood the global reach of what she did and how she impacted people," Kraft said, fighting back tears. "We have to keep that legacy going. We will continue to do it as a family."

Part of the Krafts' plans is to create an emergency fund in Myra Kraft's name to help those in the region.

Kraft also touched on football business, saying he’s proud to have labor peace over the next 10 years. Then he focused on the Patriots.

“One of the things I’m most proud of coming into the 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,” Kraft said. “Now, when you have this quick period where you have to react, we were able to get a lot of seasoned veterans on shorter-term contracts – people like Albert [Haynesworth] and Chad [Ochocinco], Andre [Carter] and Shaun Ellis.

“As you look out and look to the playoffs at the end of this year, I think you’ll see those teams that had stability both in terms of their coaching and quarterback have the best chance, in my opinion. I hope that us locking up our core veterans and bringing in these seasoned veterans, 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 for when we went into the lockout.

“That’s been done with a lot of thought and a lot of planning. I hope you have a lot of fun down here in Foxborough.”