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Patriots retrieve more than a million N95 masks from China

The NFL will currently let teams to gather for mini war rooms of ten or less people during the 2020 NFL Draft, but Mike Florio and Chris Simms don't believe the rule will stay in place for very long.

In these trying times, the New England Patriots are living up to their nickname.

As first reported by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the Patriots sent one of their planes to China to retrieve 1.2 million N95 masks from China for use by American health-care workers.

Per the report, the operations required patience and precision. Once the Patriots obtained permission to land in China, the plane was permitted to be on the ground there for at most three hours. With three minutes to spare, the masks were loaded into the Boeing 767 painted in teams colors and adorned with the message “6X Champions.”

The plane initially went to Alaska where it awaited final approval to retrieve the masks from China. The plane is due to land in Boston on Thursday afternoon.

“I’ve never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Beaton. “In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us.”

The effort started with Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker striking a deal to purchase more than a million N95 masks from various Chinese manufacturers. Baker said to Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, “I just have to get them here.”

Jonathan Kraft’s separate role as chairman of the board of Massachusetts General Hospital helped connect the dots and result in the Patriots lending their plane for the mission to retrieve the masks.

Amazingly, it worked. And it worked without any requirement that the pilots quarantine themselves for 14 days before leaving China, as long as they didn’t leave the plane.

So the 1.2 million masks are on their way, with another 500,000 to be delivered through other means. Robert Kraft suggested that 300,000 of the masks be sent to New York, because Kraft “has been moved by the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo” during this ordeal. Kraft previously donated 100,000 masks to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

“It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission,” Robert Kraft said in a statement issued by the Patriots. “We knew that purchasing greatly-needed N95 masks and providing the Patriots plane to expedite their delivery to local hospitals would immediately help protect our courageous healthcare professionals. Multiple organizations across the public and private sectors, all of which were in lockstep with Governor Charlie Baker’s visionary leadership, worked together to execute this mission with the purpose of helping save lives. I truly hope that in doing so, we can in some way inspire others to find creative ways to give more in support of our doctors, nurses and first responders. It’s nice to care for those who provide such compassionate care for us.”

And that’s the broader message from this gesture. The Krafts and the Patriots hope that their gestures will provide inspiration for others to do more to help in their own way, especially those who have the financial means and assets to give generously and help in creative ways.

If you’d like to make a donation to the efforts being coordinated by the Patriots Foundation, you can do so here. For the rest of the month, 100 percent of all donations to the Patriots Foundation will be used to purchase additional PPEs and other medical supplies.