Robert Kraft is the most recent person to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from Sports Business Journal (SBJ). The award primarily reflects Kraft’s contribution to sports at large, but he has also been extremely successful with businesses and making personal connections.
The Kraft Family Business
Robert Kraft grew up in a middle-class home but is now a major business mogul. He has been massively successful with the Kraft Group, which very much remains a family affair.
Robert continues to be involved with the Kraft Group, but the company is now a family affair. His son Jonathan is Kraft Group’s President, and his son Daniel is Kraft Group International’s Chief Executive Officer and President. Son Josh presides over Kraft Family Philanthropies as its President, and David has served as a Kraft Group Director.
Kraft Group has grown to be one of the largest companies in its industry, with activities in many countries and on all inhabited continents.
Robert Kraft’s wife, Myra Kraft, was naturally also instrumental to Robert during their 40-year marriage.
The New England Patriots
In sports, Robert Kraft is most well-known for his success with the New England Patriots. The team has won six Super Bowls during Robert’s time as owner, which account for all of the Patriots’ championships. The team has also appeared in several other Super Bowls.
The six Super Bowl wins were with Quarterback Tom Brady at the helm. Brady took over the job after an unfortunate and devastating injury to previous Starting Quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
Drew Bledsoe once explained his relationship in a way that illustrates Robert’s two passions of business and sports. The two had a strong relationship when Bledsoe was unfortunately injured, and the relationship helped them maintain a friendship despite difficult team personnel decisions.
During his time with the Patriots, Bledsoe learned two aspects of business from Robert. First, compete in every component of the business. Second, treat your employees well. Bledsoe used these important lessons to succeed in business himself as a second career.
In addition to his success as owner of the team, Kraft was instrumental in keeping the Patriots near Boston, Massachusetts. He owned Foxboro Stadium for years before he acquired the team, and he locked the team into a long-term contract to play at the stadium. Robert used this contract twice to prevent previous owners from relocating the team elsewhere.
Soccer, Tennis and Other Sports
While Robert Kraft has certainly been most successful with the New England Patriots, he has been involved with other sports as well.
Many of Robert’s other sports endeavors have been in soccer. He is the founder and owner of the New England Revolution, which competed in the first season of Major League Soccer and still plays. Robert has also brought the FIFA World Cup games to Massachusetts, and FIFA Women’s World Cup games. Robert owns a majority stake in the MLS San Jose Clash too.
Other sports-related investments that Robert has made include:
- Founded the Boston Lobsters, which competed in the World Team Tennis matches
- Leased the Foxboro Raceway, ensuring that horse racing would take precedence during the lease
- Built a large multi-sport facility in Jerusalem, Israel
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Sports Business Journal has recognized all of these accomplishments by giving Robert Kraft the publication’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This is one of the most prestigious awards that non-athletes who are involved in sports can receive.
In receiving the award, Robert joins past recipients such as Paul Fireman, Micahel Eisner, Dick Ebersol, Paul Tagliabue and Peter Ueberroth.
Meeting Famous Figures
His success and love for people have given Robert Kraft many opportunities to meet some of the world’s most famous figures. He’s shaken hands when presidents, other political figures, business people, musicians, and one of the most recognizable religious leaders.
Pictures from Robert’s meetings with presidents line his office wall. There are portraits with Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Ronald Raegan, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Gerald Ford. Pictures of Robert with Jaqueline Kennedy, Ariel Sharon and Vladimir Putin also hang nearby.
Some of the other figures that Robert has met are Meek Mill, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert Smith, Michael Rubin and the Dali Lama. The Dali Lama’s portrait is one of the more remarkable ones, as he’s relaxing in a Patriots baseball cap. Few have seen this fun side of the figure in person.
Comments From People Kraft Knows
Many of Robert Kraft’s acquaintances, colleagues and friends have described him and his achievements. The following are merely some of the comments that have been made about Robert around when he received the award.
Sanford Wells assessed Robert’s legacy: “I think his legacy will be that he built a dynasty, and he’s been a real benefit to the community…Good guys win. He’s a good guy.”
Paul Burton put Robert’s legacy in terms of charity: “It’s legacy of love. It’s a legacy of lifting up those who are down, and giving them an opportunity to succeed.” He went on to say that Robert truly cares about everyone.
Eric Shanks had a succinct comment on Robert’s attitude: “He’s the ultimate ‘rising tide’ guy.”
Robert Kraft Continues in Business, Sports and People
Robert Kraft has had enormous success in business, in sports and with people. Even when turning 81 years old, however, he’s far from finished. Robert continues to love all three of these aspects of his life, and he continues to succeed in each one.