New England Patriots Mean More To Robert Kraft Than $6.4 Billion Market Value

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft could turn a hefty profit if he were to sell the NFL franchise. But when asked if he had any plans to put the team on the market, it’s clear the organization is not just another business asset. In fact, the Massachusetts native hopes to keep it in the family for generations because it means much more to him than numbers in a ledger.

“No. After my family, the New England Patriots is the most important thing in my life,” Kraft reportedly said. “It’s not a business, it’s a part of my family. I’m never selling. We’ve set it up so it stays in the family for many decades.”

The 81-year-old was born and raised in Brookline, MA, a town known for its blue-collar work ethic just 28 miles away from Gillette Stadium. The young Robert Kraft grew up in an environment that seems to have influenced his “family-owned” feelings about the Patriots.

His father owned a dress manufacturing business in Boston. He later went to work at Rand-Whitney Group, a packaging company run by his father-in-law in Worcester, MA. Kraft quickly took control of the organization. He then opened a companion company, International Forest Products, and parlayed the pair into the largest privately held paper and packaging companies in the United States. Kraft reportedly still serves as the chairman of Rand-Whitney Group, his first major play in business.

At a time when NFL franchises are selling for a premium, 2023 would seem an opportune year for Kraft to cash in his chips. The Denver Broncos recently sold for a record $4.65 billion. The Washington Commanders are on the market and Forbes estimates the franchise’s value at $5.6 billion. Unlike Kraft, owner Daniel Snyder has been the subject of controversy and negative reports. Daniel and Tanya Snyder paid $750 million for the then-Washington Redskins in 1999. Over the last five years, the upswing in the team’s value has been pegged at 81 percent. One-third of that increase was reportedly gained over the last year alone.

The pristine image of the Patriots behind Kraft’s steady leadership has made the organization more valuable and an incredibly desirable asset. According to Forbes, the New England Patriots entered 2023 as the second most valuable sports franchise in the world. When you consider the international popularity of soccer and competitive sports markets, it seems almost counterintuitive that the organization would trail only the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots have a total value of $6.4 billion, with the Cowboys running upwards of $8 billion.

Kraft purchased the NFL franchise in 1994 for $172 million. Under his leadership, the organization has won six Super Bowl titles and experienced recent five-year growth of 73 percent. That’s another remarkable feat, given quarterback Tom Brady — aka The G.O.A.T. — exited the organization for Tampa Bay in 2020. And, the organization has taken a step back from its playoff dominance since.

“I’m a Patriot fan big-time, first, and more than anything. It bothers me that we haven’t been able to win a playoff game in the last three years,” Kraft told reporters at a recent owners’ meeting.

Basic business principles dictate you should buy low and sell high. With the team not currently perceived as a Super Bowl contender and market value high, 2023 seems like a perfect time to sell. But the latest moves by the Chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group indicate he is actively engaged in day-to-day operations and the Patriots’ long-term legacy.

After disappointing 2022 production, Robert Kraft reportedly urged head coach Bill Belichick to hire Bill O’Brien to serve as offensive coordinator.

“I can only speak for myself. I try to hire the best people I can. I give them accountability, full authority to do as they please, hold them accountable. But if things aren’t going the way I’d like, we meet in private, and have our discussions and make changes. It’s something we’ve done this year,” Kraft reportedly said. “I’m very happy that we were able to bring in a new offensive coordinator to help develop our young quarterback, Mac Jones. I think bringing in Bill O’Brien has been a big plus for our franchise. And that was done in full cooperation with Coach Belichick. And I’m very excited about our team for next year.”

Kraft also went on the record indicating he wants to bring the Tom Brady era full circle. With the winningest quarterback of all time out of football and poised to become an NFL analyst in 2024, Kraft floated the idea of him signing a one-day contract. The purely symbolic move would effectively have Brady retire as a Patriot.

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“Not only do I want it, but our fans are also clamoring for it. To us, he is always has been and always will be a Patriot,” Kraft reportedly said. “We will do everything in our power to bring him back, have him sign off as a Patriot and find ways to honor him for many years to come.

Kraft was the ideal person to purchase and elevate the New England Patriots. He runs the organization with a keen business sensibility. But the organization appears more like a labor of love than anything else.

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