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 declared "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 since his wife died. He then paused to compose himself.
"We have gotten letters and people supporting us from all over the world. I am committed to reading every tweet, email, letter. I have two boxes of letters that are still packed. The reach of my sweetheart is unbelieveable," 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.
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."
Mankins, an All-Pro in 2010, was assigned the franchise tag by the team this season. He is set to earn $10.1 million on a one-year contract but prefers the added security of a long-term deal.
Kraft was asked if he was confident that the team could agree with Mankins.
"If I have a vote, it will get done," he said. "But the other side has to want it too. It's our desire and always has been our desire. ... We think that Logan is among the best there is at the position. We drafted him and we want him here."
Kraft touched on Ochocinco's statement that he would live with a fan for a few weeks.
"First of all, I think you have to love the guy," he said. "I have people emailing me who would like to host him. I'm not sure I want the responsibility. Someone prominent here in Foxborough has offered to be his host. Probably, it will remain unsaid. If he winds up with that person, then I'll confirm it."
Another of the additions, Haynesworth, was seen as a problem in Washington, but Kraft didn't seem concerned.
"I met with him and I like the guy," he said. "So I take people ... he didn't come here for the money. He came here to be part of a team and win. (And) I think in some ways improve his reputation. So it's like a lot of meetings I have with these guys, I found him to be genuine and sincere. Now I hope he gets out on the field and does his thing."
Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.