The NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame announced July 8th the semifinalists for enshrinement August 6th. Patriots owner Robert Kraft is among the 25 semifinalists and it was to be expected.
When he purchased them in January 1994 they were a laughingstock franchise full of embarrassing results and inconsistent success. Like the Red Sox, at the time, it was like the team was cursed.
However, the team full of bad fortune became the winningest franchise of the last 30 years.
Purchasing/Initial Results 1995 – 1999
Pre-Kraft the Patriots (not counting ties) had a regular season record of 231-276 (.460). They also had a playoff record of 4-7 (.360).
Also, three of those playoff wins came during the 1985 season when they made it to their first Super Bowl, which they subsequently lost 46-10 to the ’85 Bears. They really are one and six if you erase the 1985 – 1986 season.
For the first five years of his ownership the Patriots had a regular season record of 44 – 36 or 55%, not quite terrible, but also not quite good either.
During this period they also made the playoffs three times and had a record of three and three. Although the three wins came from their second Super Bowl run in 95 – 96, which they lost to the Green Bay Packers 35 – 21.
When Kraft arrived the Patriots were in the middle of a rebuild under (two time Super Bowl Champion with the New York Giants and Hall of Fame coach) Bill Parcell’s watchful eye. After their loss in Super Bowl 31, Parcells bolted back to New York, but for the rival New York Jets this time.
This caused Kraft to identify up and coming coach Pete Carroll, then defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, as the coach of the future. Even though he had one year of head coaching experience, in 1994 with the Jets, Kraft believed he could turn the Patriots into a perennial threat.
Things didn’t work out for Carroll and Kraft admitted to his “mistake” (Many people believe Carroll didn’t get a fair shot with the team) by hiring Bill Belichick.
First Dynasty 2000 – 2004
Belichick at the time was considered a historically great defensive coordinator (won two Super Bowls with the NY Giants) but a mediocre head coach (with the Cleveland Browns).
Nobody could have imagined how his first five years with the Patriots would have gone, not even Kraft. They won three Super Bowls (36, 38 and 39) in four years and had a playoff record of nine and zero (they missed the playoffs twice).
They also had a regular season record of 53 – 27 or about 66%.
Giants Problem 2005 – 2013
While the Patriots were still great, they won lots of games and consistently made deep runs in the playoffs. They just couldn’t over the hump like they had done previously. They lost two Super Bowls to the Giants, one 17 – 14 to lose their undefeated season, and the other 21 – 17 in 2011.
During this period their regular season record was 110 – 34 or about 76% and their playoff record was nine and eight or about 53%.
Second Dynasty/Brady Leaves 2014 – 2019
Critics and fans alike started to wonder if the Patriots championship window was closed. With good reason they started to think the Patriots couldn’t find consistency in the playoffs. They did spend most of the previous period being upset in the early rounds.
It was a welcomed surprise (At least to Patriots fans) when they returned to their winning ways by winning three Super Bowls in five years (49, 51, 53). They also had a playoff record of 12 – 3 during this period. For the regular season their record was 74 – 22 or about 77%.
New Era 2020 – Present
As Brady left for Tampa to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots had to rebuild. They’re still in the process of it as they’ve draft Jones out of Alabama and he’s coming off a solid rookie season.
They have a plan and we’ll see if it comes to fruition while Belichick is still the head coach. Since Brady left their regular season record is 17 – 16 or about 52% and have a playoff record of zero and one.
Nobody can enjoy the success they have forever, sooner or later it’s going to end and so far it has. However, if there is one man who’ll trust in the Patriot Way established by Belichick, it’s Kraft.
Congratulations to Robert Kraft for being among the 25 semifinalists for the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. We’ll see if he becomes a finalist in mid-August.