I’m quoted in a USA Today sports article about New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Thought it was interesting the reporter was seeing if there was link between Myra Kraft's death in 2011 and his change since then. Until the reporter contacted me, I was unaware that Kraft was a widower. As stated in the article, I’m speaking generally about widowers and not Kraft specifically who I’ve never met or spoken with. It's noteworthy the reporter was trying to make that connection that most people don't even consider.
From USA Today:
[Steve] Comen knows [Robert] Kraft as a generous friend whose family didn’t own a car, whose father served as lay leader at the synagogue and whose core values of helping others were formed by age 13. Others recently have seen a more wild side and question whether he’s been trying to fill a void of loneliness after his wife of 48 years died of ovarian cancer.
“He’s been pretty open, at least he was with me, about how he was just so set adrift after his wife died,” said Mark Leibovich, author of a book published last year about NFL owners entitled Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times. “I think it’s just sort of an odd, kind of goofy but ultimately kind of sad story.”
To gain a better understanding of Kraft’s trajectory, USA TODAY Sports delved into his background through various sources, including historical records that show a public life that can be divided into three parts, each with threads running through today.
The changes in his public image still coincide with Myra’s passing, including even his public political brand:
► A longtime supporter of Democrats, Kraft recently has been tight with Republican Trump, who contacted Kraft to comfort him after his Myra’s death. “Bobby was very touched by that,” Comen said. Trump had been known to covet owning an NFL team and reportedly was in the mix for the Patriots before 1994. The bond between the two particularly strengthened during Kraft’s mourning of his wife.
► About a year after Myra’s death, Kraft began dating Ricki Noel Lander, 39, an actress he met at a party in Beverly Hills. After she had a baby daughter in 2017, a Patriots spokesperson took the unusual step of issuing a statement that asserted Kraft was not the biological father. “There’s something a little bit off about things like that,” Leibovich said. “I mean, you have about as buttoned-down of a football guy at the top of that organization in Bill Belichick, and then you have wacky stuff coming out like that.”
► Last year, Kraft visited rapper Meek Mill in prison and called for him to be released as part of a criminal justice reform effort he’s pushing with Kraft’s friend, Michael Rubin, the 46-year-old co-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Mill had been imprisoned under questionable circumstances and was among those with Kraft at the All-Star Game this year.
► Then there are the Hollywood parties, often around awards season. This year, Kraft was spotted making the rounds during the same weekend the news broke about the spa in Florida. Leibovich, who interviewed and observed Kraft and other owners for his book, described Kraft as a “star (expletive).”
“He’s a pretty needy guy in his own way,” Leibovich told USA TODAY Sports. Some of it, he said, could come from feeling as if he’s third-fiddle on his own team, a secondary attraction to Brady and Belichick. Some behaviors seem to fit another pattern, too.
“Generally, what happens when a man loses his wife is he kind of loses his sense of purpose and direction,” said Abel Keogh, a relationship coach who has authored books about relationships with widowers after his own wife died in 2001. “Usually, wives have kind of a grounding effect on their husbands. It’s common for widowers old and young to start dating again quickly. They’re looking to fill that hole in their heart.”
Keough [sic] isn’t speaking about Kraft’s situation specifically. And Comen scoffs at any notion that his friend came unmoored, saying he’s “more driven to be even more active in even more things.”