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Robert Kraft on Aaron Hernandez: ‘If this stuff is true, I’ve been duped’

Aaron HernandezNew England Patriots owner Robert Kraft publicly acknowledged the arrest and murder charge of Aaron Hernandez on Monday. He admitted that the Patriots made a “mistake” in drafting Hernandez but insisted the organization had no idea they could eventually face this type of situation.

“If this stuff is true, then I’ve been duped and our whole organization has been duped,” Kraft told reporters, via ESPNBoston.com. “You can be sure we’ll be looking at our procedures and auditing how we do things.”

Kraft also referred to Hernandez as a “most likable young man” who was always respectful when he was at the Patriots’ facility or dealing with any members of the organization.

“When he was in our building, we never saw anything where he was not polite,” Kraft said. “He was always respectful to me. We only know what’s going on inside the building. We don’t put private eyes on people.”

[RelatedAaron Hernandez reportedly threatened Wes Welker]

Kraft also admitted that signing Hernandez to such a lucrative contract was not the right decision. He also confirmed that the Patriots had decided they were going to cut him if he was arrested before they knew about the murder charge and said that Hernandez, who donated $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund upon signing his extension, knew how to manipulate him.

“He spoke to me about wanting to be a role model in the Hispanic community,” Kraft explained. “… I believed him. … He knew how to push my buttons.”

[RelatedAaron Hernandez reportedly had gang ties]

The longtime Patriots owner also extended his condolences to Odin Lloyd’s family.

“My heart goes out to the Lloyd family,” he said. “I feel bad that someone connected to our organization is connected to this.”

As for the problems the team saw with Hernandez before drafting him, Kraft said the Patriots were only aware of concerns surrounding failed drug tests but that the former Florida Gator sent the team a letter (full text here) assuring them he would submit to any drug test at any time and reimburse the team if he failed, even if it went against the CBA. Did the Patriots know drafting Hernandez could one day lead to trouble? Of course. Did they consider the possibility of a murder charge? Probably not. Who would?

Vladimir Putin: I do not remember Robert Kraft’s ring, but I’ll buy him another

Robert-Kraft-Vladimir-Putin

Last weekend, we shared with you one of the most bizarre stories involving an NFL owner and an international politician that you will ever hear. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft claimed that Russian president Vladimir Putin stole his Super Bowl ring in 2005, after it had been previously believed that Kraft gave it to him as a gift.

“I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,’” Kraft said at a gala on Friday. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”

Not surprisingly, that is not the way Putin remembers it. On Friday, the Russian president said he had no recollection of taking the ring or even meeting Kraft, for that matter.

“You know, I do not remember either Mr. Kraft or the ring,” Putin said, according to the AFP. “They handed out some sorts of souvenirs.”

Ouch. But not to worry, Putin said he is willing to reimburse Kraft for the ring he claims was taken from him.

“But if it is such a valuable thing to Mr. Kraft and his team, I have a proposal,” he reportedly said with a smile. “We will ask our enterprises to craft a really good, noticeable thing — so it is clear that it is expensive, made of a good metal, with a rock — so that this jewel is passed on from generation to generation in the team whose interests Mr. Kraft represents. I think that this would be the most intelligent solution to such a difficult international problem.”

A ring passed through the Patriots organization that was hand-crafted by Vladimir Putin’s people? Sounds great to me. Take the deal, Kraft. Opportunities like this don’t come knocking very often.

Robert Kraft: Vladimir Putin stole my Super Bowl ring

Robert-KraftVladimir-Putin

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft told an incredible story on Friday about how one of his Super Bowl rings wound up in the hands of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Back in 2005, Kraft released a statement to the public informing them that he had given his $25,000 championship ring to Putin because he Putin was so “taken” by it.

“President Putin, a great and knowledgable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness,” Kraft said at the time. “I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and [his] leadership.”

But on Friday, Kraft told the NY Post that Putin straight up stole the ring.

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Robert Kraft has signed picture from Jon Gruden of tuck rule saying it was a fumble

Tom-Brady-tuck-ruleOne of the rules that is being examined at the annual NFL owners meetings this week is the infamous tuck rule. The rule is one of the most beloved by New England Patriots fans and equally despised by Oakland Raiders fans. If not for the tuck rule, who knows where Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would be today.

In case you’re too young to remember, the tuck rule overturned a Brady fumble in the 2001 playoffs that would have allowed the Raiders to ice the game and advance to the AFC Championship Game. Instead, New England kept the ball and went on to win. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who said he never knew what the rule was prior to that game, has a predictable opinion on the matter. He also has a unique piece of memorabilia pertaining to the tuck rule, courtesy of former Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

“I love the tuck rule and forever will. I know (late Raiders owner) Al Davis, may he rest in peace, is probably smiling,” Kraft said Monday according to ESPNBoston.com. “But whatever the rule is, it is, I will forever … I have a picture, a big photograph in my office that Jon Gruden gave me with the snow coming down, and Tommy in that position. He signed it, ‘It was a fumble.’ I’ll probably give that to the [charitable] foundation to auction off at some point.”

Most people agree that the infamous tuck rule play from more than a decade ago was the right call on a bad rule. Outside of Foxboro, there are very few people who want to keep it in effect. I’m sure Gruden is one of the many who would be thrilled to see it go.

Robert Kraft: Wes Welker’s agents messed up, he took less money with Broncos

The New England Patriots generally refrain from getting into specifics with anything involving player contracts or business, but owner Robert Kraft gave some uncharacteristic comments on Monday in an attempt to clear up the Wes Welker situation. Basically, Kraft was trying to explain to Patriots fans how their beloved slot receiver was lost over a seemingly reasonable two-year, $12 million offer.

In summary, Kraft feels that New England’s offer of two years, $10 million plus incentives is a better deal that the one Welker took from Denver.

“I really believe in this case, his agents misrepresented, in their mind, what his market value was,” Kraft told reporters, via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. “When you come right down to the bottom line, he accepted a deal in Denver which is less money than what we offered him. In fact, he has a one-year deal in Denver for $6 million. Our last offer, before we would have even gone up and before we thought we were going into free agency, was a $10 million offer with incentives that would have earned him another $6 million if he performed the way he had the previous two years.

“But in Denver, he’s going to count $4 million against the cap this coming year and $8 million the second year. There is no guarantee that he plays the second year there. He will get $6 million the first year. Our deal, he would have gotten $8 million the first year – our last offer to him.”

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Robert Kraft in disbelief after Patriots loss

Perhaps nothing encapsulated the disappointment and frustration the Patriots felt after Stephen Gostkowski missed a potential winning field goal against the Cardinals than owner Robert Kraft’s reaction.

Kraft stood there on the sidelines with his mouth agape and a blank look on his face, utterly stunned that the Pats were unable to pull out a game that had been given to them.

New England had come back from down 20-9 in the fourth quarter to have an opportunity to tie the game on a two-point conversion. Their attempt failed, leaving them down 20-18. Even after allowing the Cardinals to convert a fourth down with under two minutes left in the game, New England got another shot at victory when Brandon Spikes forced Ryan Williams to fumble on a 3rd and 13 play with 1:01 left.

The Pats recovered and then scored two plays later on a run by Danny Woodhead, but the play was called back because of a holding penalty on Rob Gronkowski. New England eventually set up for a 42-yard field goal that would have given them a 21-20 lead, but Stephen Gostkowski hooked it wide left. They lost 20-18, leaving everyone stunned on their sideline, including Kraft, who had that shocked expression.

GIF via Kissing Suzy Kolber

Robert Kraft appears in odd audition video with lady friend Ricki Lander

Patriots owner Robert Kraft showed off his thespian side in a strange video that is making its way around the Internet. The video lacks much context, but according to Barstool Sports it shows Kraft interacting with gal pal Ricki Lander during the actress’ audition tape for the 2013 movie “The Internship.”

Kraft and Lander sparked dating rumors when they were photographed sitting courtside at a Celtics game last month. Kraft’s late wife Martha died last year.

In the video (which has been scrubbed from the net), Lander says she’s auditioning for the role of “Mary Elena.” She and Kraft then begin role-playing, with Kraft reading from a script. Kraft seems to be playing the role of an exec from Yahoo!, and the two get cozy when Kraft offers to buy Mary Elena a drink. The video culminates with Kraft screaming at another actor and delivering a vicious knockout punch. (WARNING: End of video contains graphic language).

This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Kraft exhibit odd behavior in a video, but it certainly was the funniest. And this is definitely the week of football folks gone wild.

UPDATE: Kraft issued the following statement in response to the video going viral: “I tried to help Ricki prepare an audition tape for an upcoming Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy by reading Wilson’s lines. I never intended that it would be made public and I regret that it has.  I think we can all agree that Owen Wilson has nothing to worry about. I am going to stick to my day job.”

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