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How Robert Kraft tried to help Alex Rodriguez

WEEI
December 19, 2018 - 12:15 pm

By EVAN MARINOFSKY

Sometimes during people's darkest times, unlikely friendships are forged. For then-New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, that came during his steroid suspension in 2014 with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. 

In a piece for The Athletic, Kraft details why he reached out to a sulking Rodriguez. 

"I saw A-Rod there," Kraft told Jeff Howe of The Athletic. "I have a thing where, people like A-Rod and some of the players on our team, are great role models for young people. When they go off the rails a little bit, it's not good, in my opinion. The way I've seen A-Rod, he's really a good guy. He's ambitious. He's hardworking. I think he represents what is great about athletes who can position and move on through their next -- when they're finished playing sports, it's not the end. They grow and move on. And I think he really has done that. 

"I was concerned that he was battling with a lot. People were after him. I just said 'You're an important messenger to young people. You're charismatic. You have a nice way about you.'" 

This all took place at Mary Erdoes's (chief executive officer of J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management) holiday party in 2014. 

Kraft had a simple message for the struggling slugger: "Build bridges. Don't Burn them." 

Rodriguez liked the message so much that he wrote down what Kraft said to him on a cocktail napkin and stuffed it in his pocket. He still has the napkin. 

"He pulled me aside at Mary Erdoes's holiday party," Rodriguez told Howe of the Athletic. "The lesson was really that the messenger is often as powerful as the message. It wasn't just that he told me to stop burning bridges; it was the fact that it was Robert Kraft, someone who I knew would never sugarcoat the honest truth. I knew it came from a place of truly wanting to help me. That was absolutely one of the most important moments of my path back, and really, my entire life." 

According to the piece, the two have become great friends as they've traveled together to Las Vegas and met for lunch in New York City. The topics range from sports to business, and to philanthropic activities. 

Jennifer Lopez, the girlfriend of the three-time American League MVP, even has a nickname for the owner of the Patriots: "Krafty". 

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