Patriots

Robert Kraft delivers message for those hoping for Patriots dynasty to end

Robert Kraft delivers message for those hoping for Patriots dynasty to end

If you're anxiously awaiting the downfall of the Patriots dynasty, Robert Kraft would like to leave you a message.

The Patriots owner stopped by Boston Sports Tonight on Tuesday to discuss an assortment of topics, including how far the organization has come over the last 20 years. Kraft mentioned how surreal it was for him and his son and President of the Patriots, Jonathan, to witness the turnout for Sunday's send-off rally after attending games as fans decades ago.

"Jonathan came with me, and we sat in the stands with his brothers as fans," Robert Kraft said. "We dreamt about owning the team, and last Sunday having 35,000 people come to the stadium, really they started lining up at 2:30 a.m. And when you think about it, they really saw the players and coaches for 20 minutes. The gates didn't open until 8, and we saw this sense of community and commitment. We just pinch ourselves. It's so special, the kind of support we've gotten from the fans. We're passionate about trying to do our part and setting the organization up with the ability to win, and we're lucky to have the people we have in place."

When the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in 2002, they were the beloved underdogs of the NFL. Needless to say, that is no longer the case. NBC Sports Boston's own Tom E. Curran asked Kraft what it's been like to see the team go from being Cinderella to having so many waiting for their incredible run to come to an end. That's when Kraft sent a message to all the Patriots haters out there.

"We were just talking about that," Kraft said. "Seventeen years ago, we were Cinderella -- and I understand it, and if I wasn't a fan of the Patriots, I'd feel the same way. And you know what? To all those people, we hope we're going to make you keep feeling that way for quite a while."

With five Super Bowl titles in hand, and Tom Brady showing no signs of slowing down, Patriot haters might have to wait awhile to start dancing on the team's grave.

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Four Patriots are the greatest of all time at their positions, per ESPN list

Four Patriots are the greatest of all time at their positions, per ESPN list

Sure, there have been bumps along the way. But New England Patriots fans truly are witnessing a golden era for what's become the model NFL franchise.

ESPN provided more proof of this Wednesday while rolling out an ambitious project that anoints the single greatest player at every position as the NFL enters its 100th season.

The Patriots, as you may expect, were impressively well-represented, with four players/coaches making the list: Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback, John Hannah as the greatest offensive guard, Adam Vinatieri as the greatest kicker and Bill Belichick as the greatest coach.

Think about that for a second: By at least one media outlet's judgment, the Patriots currently employ the greatest quarterback and the greatest coach in NFL history. During the early 2000s, they had three of the 23 greatest players/coaches ever in the same room.

No wonder New England has six championships, nine Super Bowl appearances and 16 AFC East titles since Belichick and Brady came to town in 2000.

(One could also make the case for Rob Gronkowski as the greatest tight end of all time, although Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez is a worthy choice.)

Hannah's Hall of Fame career shouldn't get lost in the modern-day shuffle, either: The 10-time first-team All-Pro is considered one of the best offensive lineman in NFL history, period, and ESPN included an apt quote about Hannah from former Patriots coach Ron Erhardt:

"I used to see people all the time who just would dive to get out of his way."

It's also worth noting that Brady, Belichick and Vinatieri are the only three active NFL members on ESPN's all-time team, as Vinatieri is still kicking for the Indianapolis Colts while Brady and Belichick gear up for their 20th season together.

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Bill Belichick talks relationship with media, when reporters 'cross the line'

Bill Belichick talks relationship with media, when reporters 'cross the line'

It's hard enough to get Bill Belichick to talk to the media, much less talk about them.

But the New England Patriots head coach pulled back the curtain Wednesday for a special occasion.

Belichick joined Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria" for a rare "coach's roundtable" as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon.

At one point, each coach was asked how they approach the media. As expected, Belichick gave the most brief answer, but his response was still interesting.

"Things are a lot different than they were at a different point in time. It is what it is," Belichick said, via WEEI.com. " ... Everybody is trying to do the best they can. I think there are times when -- I think when it gets personal, I think that is crossing the line.

"You can think whatever you want about my coaching — good, bad, I have heard all of it. That is your opinion and I have no problem with that. I think when it gets personal with players and other people within the organization, I don’t think that is where it belongs, but I don’t have any control over that. Whatever it is, it is. I just try and do the best I can for our football team."

Belichick's answer checks out, as trying to get him to talk in specifics about his players -- especially when injuries are involved -- is like pulling teeth. Just look at his comments from earlier this week about reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon, which included a pair of snarky remarks and a loud snort.

The Patriots coach wasn't alone in his opinion, though. Stevens, who's as polite as they come while dealing with reporters, admitted he gets irked when he feels his players are being unfairly criticized in the media.

Belichick certainly sets the bar in Boston when it comes to keeping the media at arm's length. But at least he's willing to admit where he draws his battle lines.

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