I take it back. Allowing Kurt Warner to contemplate his own Hall Of Fame candidacy was not the nadir of this week’s coverage of what non-NFL licensees must refer to as “The Big Game”.
Workers stacked chairs, pulled cable and rushed to reconfigure the room for another Super Bowl event. In the midst of this stood Robert K. Kraft (above), the owner of the defending champion New England Patriots, who have won three of the past four Super Bowls.
This week, he’s an owner with unwanted time on his hands.
He stood there amid clanging chairs and rumbling carts talking casually with a couple of reporters and friends. Kurt Warner came over and said hello. Kraft’s wife had gone on an excursion to six Detroit museums; Kraft had passed. On the other hand, staying around this bustling hotel was taxing it its own way. Life on the periphery of the Super Bowl was a little tougher than Kraft thought it would be.
“It’s a lousy feeling,” he said. “But like my wife said, ‘I don’t think anyone’s going to feel bad for you because you’re not in the Super Bowl. There’s people jumping for joy.’ I bought into that. But it’s a lousy feeling when you’ve been there.”
He said his eight young grandchildren had gotten so used to these trips that they considered the Super Bowl an entitlement. “They think they go to the playoffs and Super Bowl every year,” he said. “It’s an amazing thing.”
The Patriots went to so many of these things that they had a ritual on Super Bowl eve. “Saturday night three out of the last four years, we always had our family and key friends,” Kraft said. “We have a big dinner to celebrate the upcoming game.”
You assume that players, coaches and owners ” everyone associated with an N.F.L. franchise ” grieve when the team loses. But it wasn’t until my conversation with Kraft that I understood the depth of his disappointment. It wasn’t only what he said, but it was also the pained expressions and the winces as he recalled a play here, a play there that could have led the Patriots back to the Super Bowl.
“Being in this game and having the privilege of winning ” after getting married and the birth of your children ” there’s no feeling better,” he said. “But once you’ve done it, the pursuit of it again is so absorbing. That’s the sickness of this game. I guess it’s why the fans love the game. You get that taste of it, and then you want more of it and you want more.”
Mustering sympathy for a billionaire owner is a tough sell.
No fucking kidding.