For Robert Kraft, it is the wurst of times.
The Patriots’ season is kaput.
And the team is on the fritz.
Kraft traveled with the reputation of his NFL franchise across 12 time zones and 7,328 air miles this past weekend to Germany only to be humiliated on two continents thanks to NFL Network.
A showcase moment for the Patriots at their new home-away-from-home in Frankfurt ended with a starting QB on the bench, the coach on the clock, and the team stuck in the AFC basement.
Kraft has amassed unimaginable wealth.
He transformed the Patriots from a laughingstock to the model franchise in pro sports.
He has a large and loving family.
He has a beautiful wife who doubles as an ophthalmologist 33 years his junior.
He has earned eternal gratitude across New England reserved for the likes of Paul Revere, John Adams, Alan Shepard, Robert Frost, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Orr, Ted Williams and Lenny Clarke.
His record as an NFL owner is unrivaled during his 30 seasons with six Super Bowl trophies.
His stadium complex on Route 1 is among the most ostentatious in the NFL.
It includes two hotels, a commercial shopping and dining venue, a video board visible from Neptune, and a lighthouse that embarrasses all the other lighthouses in the Bay State by its length, virility and girth.
He’s even added free parking.
Kraft has seen it all.
What Kraft had not seen, or at least wanted to recall having seen, is his team starting 2-8.
Sunday, Kraft told the NFL Network the Patriots had never gone 2-7 on his watch.
In 2000, the Patriots went both 2-7 and 2-8.
They’re 2-8 again. New England remains the worst team in the AFC and ready to pounce on the Giants for the No. 2 overall draft pick when they play the New York Giants after the break on Thanksgiving Day Weekend.
Loser gets Bill Belichick.
Robert Kraft has earned the right to spend the rest of his days hanging with rock stars, Hollywood A-listers and pop icons. Not having to be concerned about anything NFL-wise except for when the TV residual check is auto-deposited. But he cannot get a pass as long as he chooses to remain in control of the team.
We’re at the definition of “insanity” if the Patriots decide to run it back again next season using the same personnel, same mindset, and a continued focus on defense and special teams over offense.
Belichick as head coach; a staff stocked with cronies, holdovers, returnees, and progeny; a sub-par starting quarterback; an overwhelmed offensive line; and receivers who couldn’t crack the Jets practice squad.
All on the cheap.
After Tom Brady it hasn’t worked. it isn’t working. It won’t work.
Has Kraft finally seen enough? Perhaps. The NFL Network cameras caught Kraft, dressed for an ascent of Mt. Everest, dejected and down after Mac Jones air-mailed a potential TD pass to Hunter Henry with 12:47 left in the fourth quarter Sunday.
The Patriots settled for a field goal.
This image – no doubt you’ve seen it – should replace Pat Patriot as the team’s logo de guerre until the Patriots win another playoff game.
Maybe Kraft was looking down on a monitor. Maybe Kraft realized he has nothing left to prove and wished he had just headed to the islands for the weekend.
Kraft made it clear there was much more at stake Sunday than just the Patriots’ grip on last place in the AFC East, or the team’s draft position.
In 2023, Patriots fans have to go to Germany to hear directly from their team’s owner. Kraft spoke to a group of fans Saturday. Kraft has grown more reclusive this season than ever before. At least in terms of dealing with the media and public located in North America.
Kraft told the fans in Germany that getting a victory was “critical” and “means so much to us.”
Guess the first 9 weeks of the season were just practice.
What better example of just how far the Patriots have fallen does one need to see? Their owner had to go to Germany in order to guarantee himself a receptive audience.
In that TV moment on Sunday, humanity demanded kindness for Kraft. In the same way we would help a wounded puppy on the side of the road.
Patriots fans wrestled with dueling emotions of empathy for their team’s cherished steward, and frustration/anger over just how terribly things have progressed since Kraft’s “other” son went to Tampa Bay three years ago.
Sympathy for “Mr. Kraft”?
It’s that bad.
Thanksgiving is a week from tomorrow. We’re not going to make any more blame pies. Nor should you gobble up any more turkey talk about what the Patriots will do in terms of Belichick or Mac Jones. That drama will be resolved with time.
The team finally cut ties to Jack Jones this week. Rosemary can’t win ‘em all. Instead of speculating on the drama inside the Kremlin on Route 1, you’re much better served betting the under, or fading the Patriots each week against the spread.
You’d be 15-5 if you did both. That equals a profit of $863.50 if you bet $100 a pop at -110.
One is left to ponder just how much lower this iteration of the Patriots can fall on the field, off the field, and in the eyes of the NFL.
How long will it take Bill O’Brien self-immolate the next time his QB fails to read the most elementary of schemes?
Can the Patriots out-suck the Giants, or even Carolina, for the No. 1 pick?
Does Taylor Swift return to “Foxy Foxboro” when the Chiefs come to town next month?
Will anyone show up for the Jets game on Jan. 7 besides Aaron Rodgers?
Maybe by then, the Patriots will remember to have a player back to field punts.
Bill Speros (@RealOBF and @BillSperos on X) can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org