FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots owner Robert Kraft commented on labor talks today after the team's "Community MVP" event, as he has been actively involved in the discussions.
"I think we've been fortunate that we've had two rounds of talks, and any time principals are talking in any deal that's complicated or has potential problems, I think that's a big plus," Kraft said. "I'm happy that we're talking, principal to principal."
Are the sides further along now than they were March 11?
"I think so, because we're talking now," Kraft responded. "We're making progress, but there is a lot of work to be done. This is a very hard deal, with all the different variables in the end. The fact that principals who are going to be sitting down from one other 5 years, 10 years from now are talking about the problems is a positive thing. But there is a lot of hard work still to be done. The good news is we're talking."
Kraft was asked what he'd say to fans that are patiently waiting things out.
"I'm one of them, I want football back," he responded. "I think we're getting close to having to put this thing to bed, so we don't miss any events. I know that's the intent on both sides, but it would be misleading to say anything that would not make it crystal clear there is a lot of hard work still to be done. But the good news is we're talking. I think we went 34 days without having communications, and the lawyers on each side were doing stuff. That, to me, isn't progress."
Previously, Kraft said he felt fairly confident a deal could be struck if the lawyers were not in the negotiating room. Does he still feel that way?
"I think as long as the principals on each side keep talking, and we're talking, and addressing the issues head-on, we have a chance to solve it," he answered. "The good news for me is both sides -- the head of the union and the players he has there, and the owners and the commissioner -- we all care about the health of this game long-term. That's our sole focus. Building on that is very positive. ... We're talking about how we improve our game and how we solve our problems. The only issue is how do we get football back. There is no other agendas. I think that's a very positive thing but we still have a lot of hard work to do. There is a lot left to solve. At least we're there talking to one another."
Kraft, one of the only owners to be involved in both rounds of negotiations, was asked about a sense of urgency in talks.
"For me, there has always been a sense of urgency because we have the greatest game in America, and we have a lot of people depending on this game, not just people working in this building -- service people, support people," he responded. "I think on Sundays, it's part of Americana. People plan their day. We have to be very careful that we continue to enhance it. I can't speak for other people's comments, but I know I personally have been very serious and I know a number of other owners involved here who have been serious, and the commissioner has. I think the fact we're continuing to talk is a very positive sign."