New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft won’t settle for a failing grade

Oct 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots Robert Kraft cheers during a game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots Robert Kraft cheers during a game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

Imagine you’re a free agent visiting the New England Patriots. You enter by the north end zone and see the $225 million renovation going on. You see the bigger lighthouse being built, the brand new 50,000 square foot hospitality space coming to life and what will be the biggest outdoor HD video screen stretching across the endzone.

And then you see the weight room, and disappointment sets in.

Last week the NFLPA unveiled team report cards for all NFL franchises. It’s the result of player surveys completed by the players and the information compiled and presented to the players as information to help them decide which franchises they would sign with.

The Patriots, the self-proclaimed model franchise during the 20-year dynasty, ranked 24th out of 32 teams. The lowlights include:

C+ for locker rooms

C- for treatment of families and training room

D+ for travel

D for weight room

What stings is these reviews came from Patriot players, the players who see the facility daily. According to these results, Gillette Stadium could use a refresh.

New England Patriots owner will do what it takes to get a better grade

How accurate are these results? Hard to say. It’s head scratching that the Patriots got a D+ for travel when players fly on two private jets bought by Kraft specifically for team travel. The Patriots are one of six teams in the league with their own planes, according to Bitlux.

But the results are the results. Gillette Stadium is 21 years old. It was state of art back then, but newer stadiums have reset the standards. And Kraft bought the team planes back in 2004. Like the stadium, the standards for professional travel have only gone up over the past 19 years.

"OverviewThe New England Patriots ranked 24th in our team guide. The player respondents’ feedback from our survey described the club’s facility as old, dated and in need of renovation. The staffing of the current facilities was also flagged as an issue in need of improvement, specifically in the weight room and training room. The player respondents’ indicated that facilities and operations at the Patriots can use a refresh.Given the results, it is understandable that only 64 percent of players believe club owner Robert Kraft is willing to spend the money necessary for upgrades, ranking him 26th in this category."

Don’t expect Kraft to throw up his hands, thinking there’s nothing he can do. He can hold Patriots head coach Bill Belichick accountable. I expect Kraft will hold himself to similar standards.

Like how Kraft is renovating the north end zone of the stadium, Kraft will modernize the facilities inside and upgrade team travel to return the New England Patriots to a model franchise, on and off the field.

Some of those upgrades are already under way. There is a 120,000 square foot office building being built next to the Pro Shop that will house the Patriots football operations.

Improving the weight room might require more creative thinking. Space would be limited if the Patriots convert the vacated football operations space within Gillette Stadium into additional space for the weight and training rooms. But Kraft could build a brand new, separate building on the Patriot Place grounds specifically for training.

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But more space and new equipment doesn’t matter nearly as much to Kraft as the C- for support of the players’ families. Kraft has very strong relationships with his players. Now that he knows what’s important to his players, it wouldn’t be a surprise if creating space for a day care and a family room are the priorities for Kraft. Of all the upgrades that can be done, this could be the easiest and quickest to fulfill.

It will take time to make all the changes necessary to take the New England Patriots from 24th to among the bests of the league, but the timing couldn’t be better. If all goes well, renovations could be done just as a new dynasty begins.