Image courtesy of the New England Patriots
On September 4, 1994, Robert Kraft watched as the Patriots suffered a heartbreaking 39-35 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
That day, Kraft wasn’t just a lifelong fan, but the new owner of the Patriots after taking over in January. The team got him his first win two weeks later, beating the Bengals 31-28 on September 18, 1994. Nearly 28 years to the day of that first win this past Sunday, the Patriots squeaked out a win over Pittsburgh in what was Kraft’s 500th game as owner of the franchise.
The amount of historic, memorable games during his ownership are seemingly endless, but this one was almost as meaningful as some of those other historic games, including the AFC title wins in the Steel City.
“Look, we’ve got a lot of big wins here in Pittsburgh, we’ve hd a lot of big wins here. I think it’s fitting that this one comes on Mr. Kraft’s 500th game,” Bill Belichick said in the locker room while presenting Kraft with the game ball on Sunday.
“Thank you all,” Mr. Kraft said to the team. “I’ll tell ya, our family has a chance – and I speak for Jonathan here as well – we have a chance to be in a number of different businesses, there’s no business like the NFL. We bring community together, and we play like a team. No one can do it on their own. What you guys did here today is so sweet for my family and I thank you all.
“And doing it here in Pittsburgh, is pretty special. Thank you.”
On Monday, a few players that have been here for a while – or in one case, a long, long, long time – talked about how much it meant to them to have a small part in such a meaningful game for the New England Patriots.
“It was a very historic game and we’re happy that we won,” said Deatrich Wise, who has been here since 2017 and is now one of the team captains. “Not only that we won, that we won in Pittsburgh. That’s a phenomenal milestone for him.”
Mack Wilson Sr. – who made a big play in the win over the Steelers – hasn’t been here long, but was proud to be a part of the victory.
“He’ll be all through the building, coming through the locker room and whenever I get a chance, I catch him and speak to him,” Wilson Sr. said. “He’s been doing an unbelievable job here with this organization, even before I was born, so just for me being a part of his 500th…it means a lot to me as much as it means a lot to him, so it’s an honor. I’m pretty sure he was super pumped after the game, we got the dub and I was just happy we was able to do that for him.”
Mattew Slater has been an employee of Mr. Kraft since 2008, which made the win significant in his eyes maybe more than others. More importantly, Slater is happy to be working alongside the Kraft family as they continue to do incredible work in the community.
“It’s huge, you want the 500th to be a memorable one, Slater said. “You don’t want it to be a losing effort. Really, a testament to Mr. Kraft and his family for the consistency they’ve shown over the course of their ownership.Their commitment to winning is second-to-none, and it’s only fitting that we got him a win in that stadium, against that team for his 500th game. I said it before the game, I really appreciate the legacy the Kraft’s have left when it comes to what happens between the white lines, but their legacy goes beyond that off the field and all the things they’ve done in the community since Mr. Kraft bought the team in 1994.
“I’m blessed to be a part of that, I think we all feel that way and here’s to 500 more.”