HOUSTON -- Tom Brady and Robert Kraft's relationship has come a long was since the rookie quarterback told the Patriots owner that drafting him in the sixth round was the best decision the franchise has ever made.
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During a week when Brady's relationship with his parents has come into the spotlight, Brady called Kraft like "a second father" to him during his career on Tuesday.
"I am a long way from home," Brady said, citing his California roots, "and when you are all the way across the country and don’t have any family . . . We have been through a lot of ups and downs together and through a lot of challenging moments that have brought us closer together.
"He has been a second father to me in a lot of ways and given me a lot of advice over the years about a lot of things that only someone like he could speak to and relate to. Whether it has been family situations or friendship situations, career advice, it has all mattered to me. He knows how I feel about him. It means a lot to him for us to get to this point and he works his butt off to get us here. I know how disappointed he is when we lose this game -- he lets me know it."
Brady and Kraft have a rare bond in that for more than a decade-and-a-half one has been the franchise player and one has been the owner. Over the last two seasons, as Brady waded through Deflategate, Kraft very publicly had Brady's back.
Though Kraft caught the ire of fans who were disappointed that the Patriots accepted the league's punishment -- two draft picks, including a first-rounder, and a fine -- he and Brady emerged from the ordeal seemingly as close as ever.
For Brady, it was just one of the latest examples for how their relationship goes well beyond employer and employee.
"He has always opened up his home to me and my family and we have shared holidays together and a lot of meals and conversations about life," Brady said. "That means a lot more at the end of the day. Personal relationships are what life is all about. Football is obviously something that I love but the relationships of football are what are going to be most gratifying. My relationship with him, my coaches and my teammates, those are the things that after it is all said and done that is what you have.