As the lockout negotiations went through a long and very contentious spring and summer, it became clear that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft became the voice of reason, guiding the hawks and doves through the process. We now know that Mr. Kraft was doing all of that work with a heavy heart.
On Wednesday morning, Myra Hiatt Kraft, Mr. Kraft's wife, passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 68. The Krafts wed in 1963 and raised four sons: Jonathan, Daniel, Joshua and David. Jonathan is the president of the Patriots, and has held various titles in the organization since his father purchased the team in 1994.
As Mr. Kraft's Patriots franchise came to redefine NFL success in the time since that purchase, Mrs. Kraft found her calling in philanthropy — she was highly regarded for her generous spirit. She managed the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation, as well as the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, which provided millions of dollars to various U.S. and Israeli charities. Mrs. Kraft also served as the first female chairperson of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, which she did from 1995 through 2002, and she was the chairwoman of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. She also served on the boards of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the American Repertory Theatre, Brandeis University (where she went to school), and the Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The Patriots had this to say in a statement: "Words cannot express the deep sorrow we feel in learning of the passing of Myra Hiatt Kraft. Myra passed away early this morning after a courageous battle with cancer. We are all heartbroken. The global philanthropic community and the New England Patriots family have suffered a great loss."
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson added his own thoughts as he arrived in Atlanta for Thursday's owners meetings: "Myra has been very, very sick for a good while now, and just before I left Charlotte, I got the news that she had passed away. I came into the league about the same time that Robert did, and over the years, we've had a unique bond from the fact that we did come in together. Our families are very close, and Myra and my wife were very close, and I'm devastated. My best wishes and hope is that Robert and his family's grief will pass as quickly as it can."
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork had a severe frustration upon hearing of Mrs. Kraft's passing which spoke to the fact that this story went far beyond any labor battle — because of the communication embargo between the owners and players, he didn't have an appropriate avenue with which to express his condolences.
I don't even know how to get in touch with Mr kraft to offer my support and condolences.......... a wonderful life lost that I probably wlda had the chance to see again if it wasn't for f'n $$$ problems!! Luv ya Myra "momma"
Sorry guys had to vent myra was a wonderful woman who my wife and I loved dearly #somuchmorethanfootball
It's clear that Mrs. Kraft touched a great many lives, and we would like to add our condolences to the New England Patriots organization and the Kraft family.
As Vince Wilfork said, sometimes it's about so much more than football.