So far, Robert Kraft has only peeked around the curtain to say, “Didn’t do it.”
That statement regarding his Florida arrest for soliciting a prostitute was chased by the promise “we will not be commenting further.”
That’s okay. The void left by Kraft’s “no comment” will be filled all weekend long. Over and over and over on every imaginable platform.
Did it, didn’t do it, who knows right now? The bottom line is the country’s most recognizable 77-year-old multi-billionaire was -- at the very least -- at the wrong place at the wrong time.
And you know what? Even if he just stopped in to ask directions and gave somebody $20 for their assistance, nobody’s really going to care or remember.
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The words “Kraft” and “prostitution” are going to be in a million chyrons across a billion television screens in the next few days.
Robert Kraft doesn’t just own the Patriots.
Since taking ownership of the team 25 years ago, Kraft has done more than preside over arguably the most impressive dynasty in pro sports. He’s also built a “brand” that transcends football.
He’s luxuriated in the exposure and deftly leveraged the platforms his NFL franchise served as a springboard for.
He’s pals with Donald Trump and Meek Mill and less than a month ago -- presumably after getting pinched -- was gyrating on stage with Cardi B. He shows up at the Oscars and the Grammys and is being honored this year with the 2019 Genesis Prize by Israel, where Kraft has taken scores of NFL players over the years on visits to the Holy Land.
He’s probably one of the most generous philanthropists in Massachusetts over the past 25 years. He was the leading owner in helping to broker labor peace between players and owners during the 2011 work stoppage.
He’s out front. Always. And as a result, he’s going to get it all.
He will be the butt of jokes, an object of derision, a receiver of unwelcome pats on the back, a yielder of the moral high ground, a symbol of power run amok, a guy just trying to take the edge off, a cad, a hero, a misogynist, a trampoline for the argument sex workers shouldn’t be shamed, a promoter of human trafficking, a lonely widower and an old hornball who should learn how to act his age.
He’ll probably have a few more labels affixed as well and the messy aftereffects -- again, regardless of the veracity of the charges -- will crop up time and again over the next few months until the reaction goes through the natural metamorphosis these “scandals” do: shock, outrage, amusement, fatigue, part of the past.
But first there will be the matter of the Patriots' White House visit. And then Kraft at the NFL Owners Meetings next month, where he’ll probably have to do a mea culpa while some owners stifle giggles and the rest think, “There but for the grace of God go I . . . "
It’s not going to do any favors for his candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Even though his accomplishments surpass those of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (who went in last year), there’s no shortage of people in influential spots around the league that revel in any misfortune that visits itself on the Patriots.
This is the motherlode.
The whole thing has to be intensely embarrassing for Kraft and his family. Inevitably, it will be unfairly used as a cudgel to say he isn't what he's made himself out to be.
Robert Kraft may be a bit of a poser. He’s always, shall we say, a willing interviewee (which we in the media certainly appreciate). And he may be a little more self-congratulatory than people would like.
But those “transgressions” don’t undo the facts of his family’s contributions to the region or the fact that he built a professional football team that’s become as synonymous with New England as snow, ocean and bad driving.
For the next 48 to 72 hours, Robert Kraft is going to be held up and used as an example of a lot of things. Some will be fair, some will be unfair, none will be what you’re looking to be associated with at 77.
But as a wise man once said, “It is what it is.”
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