Jonathan Kraft: Patriots are going to push off a return to mediocrity 'for as long as we can'

Mike Petraglia
December 04, 2016 - 8:13 am

[caption id="attachment_79128" align="alignright" width="150"]Jonathan Kraft Jonathan Kraft[/caption]FOXBORO -- Jonathan Kraft remembers what the bad old days were like in Foxboro. That's why, with 2001 Patriots back in town for a reunion, the team president says he and his father are going to do everything in their power to make sure they don't fall back there anytime soon. The 2001 Patriots have been honored all season in the 15th anniversary of the Super Bowl win over the Rams. Several members were are in town this weekend for the festivities. On Saturday night, there was a gala dinner of sorts where everyone got together to reminisce. "Bill made a very emotional speech about that [Saturday] night," Kraft said on the team's pregame radio show. "When we saw we were playing the Rams and noticed it was a multiple-of-5 [years], it was a special time in the country, the last time a team played in Foxboro Stadium. We gathered 35-40, guys just relaxed and a handful of other people. A lot of reminiscing and story-telling. It was really fun to listen to. There were a bunch of guys that had been with us since the mid-90s on, and that really started the cultural change. Guys like Willie [McGinest] and guys like Drew [Bledsoe] and Ty [Law], Lawyer [Milloy] and Tedy Bruschi. "As Teddy Johnson said to me, 'I remember when I started playing here, no one cared about pro football in this town. It feels really good when I come back here now, the place pro football has. It was fun to celebrate it. "I remember sitting on a lot of empty days at [Foxboro] Stadium and watching a lot of losing football There are cycles in the NFL and teams win and lose but it felt like… nothing ever really went all that right. That's not to criticize anybody. That's not directed at anybody. I do remember what that's like and we do think about that all the time here and if you're on edge, you can get back there pretty quick. It's a not a place you want to revisit. You want to push it off. Eventually, you might have to but we're going to avoid it for as long as we can." Kraft also sent out his best wishes to Rob Gronkowski and insisted the team considers the tight end a vital part of their future. "You're not happy," Kraft said of the injury news this week. "Rob works as hard as anybody as we've talked about before. You really feel for Rob. it's terrible. He loves football. It's awesome to watch him play and he's just a bigger than life personality, on and off the field, and you feel for him. He's gone through a lot physically and you just feel for him." Kraft said there was a specific reason the team and the Gronkowski family issued a joint statement. "I think for both sides, sometimes there's this misperception in the public about what the relationship is," Kraft said. "The relationship is between Rob and his family and Drew Rosenhaus [and the team] is a very strong relationship but when you're a player of Rob's caliber and stature, not just in New England but across the NFL, there's a different level of attention and the conspiracy theories. Both sides remained in communication the whole time. "Rob suffered that injury in the Jets game, contrary to certain conspiracy theories. We were all in complete agreement the whole way through. Rather than allow the conspiracy machine percolate with theories that go well beyond the reasonable, we put out that joint statement. That's really it. You hope Rob makes a speedy recovery. I was shown a video on Instagram this morning. That was classic Rob, makes you feel good." "Rob's a dependable football player. It's a physical game as we've talked about before. He's a big guy and when big guys move at fast speeds, things can happen. But Rob's absolutely a dependable football player and he does everything that's asked of him. To have a guy who's such a high quality player who works so hard, just sets a tone across the organization. A very dependable guy." On Alan Branch winning his appeal from the NFL on his four-game suspension: "Alan, from the start, felt it was not accurate. We got a letter, a note to Bill, 'the suspension has been rescinded.' He was so adamant about it. Looks like he was right." On the team reportedly playing the Raiders in Mexico City in 2017: "We love playing outside the country. London two times. Against the Cowboys [in '98], we played down there and we loved it. That stadium is awesome! If the league asked us to do it, we'd love to do it."