The New England Patriots have become one of the most successful franchises in National Football League history. This was not always the case as in the thirty four years the team existed before being purchased by Robert Kraft in 1994 the most wins they had accumulated was eleven. Since Kraft’s purchase of the team, they have had seasons of 14 wins (twice) as well as the undefeated 2007 season when they accumulated 16 regular season victories.
Robert Kraft was born in 1941 in Brookline, Massachusetts and was a New England Patriots fan dating back to their early days as part of the American Football League (AFL). Kraft played on the lightweight football team and graduated from Columbia University in 1963 before receiving an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1965.
Kraft began his business career with a packaging company he would later acquire, the Rand-Whitney Group. He would also found International Forest Products, a physical paper commodities trading company, in 1972. These two companies combine to form the largest privately held paper and packaging in the United States. Kraft would look outside the paper and packaging industry for his next business deals as he went on to acquire both television and radio stations, primarily in the Boston area.
In 1985, Kraft purchased an option on the New England Patriots home field, Sullivan Stadium. This followed in 1988 with Kraft’s purchase of the stadium from bankruptcy court for $25 million. The stadium, home to the Patriots whom Kraft had held season tickets for since 1972, would be renamed Foxboro Stadium and then would play a big role in Kraft’s acquisition of the team. The Patriots were purchased by James Orthwein in 1992 and as he was a native of St. Louis, who had lost the Cardinals four years earlier, it was assumed he wanted to move the team. Two years later Kraft saved the team from being moved by purchasing the Patriots for $175 million dollars, up until then the highest price paid for an NFL team.
After six playoff appearances in 33 years before Robert Kraft purchased the team, the Patriots have gone on to make the playoffs nine times in the 13 years since he purchased the team. Kraft has built a successful team starting with his hiring of head coach Bill Parcells which directly led to his hiring of current head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots have gone on to win multiple Super Bowls under Kraft’s ownership, Belichick’s guidance, and star quarterback Tom Brady’s play.
Robert Kraft also founded the New England Revolution, who share their home stadium (the newly built Gillette Stadium) with the Patriots. Kraft is also a major contributor to various philanthropic causes, many in his home region of New England. Robert Kraft succeeded in living out a dream many football fans have for themselves; buying their favorite football team and turning it into a success. The successful years for the New England Patriots don’t appear to be ending any time soon either.