Kraft Clears The Air
In a statement released
by the team Wednesday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft explains that the Super Bowl
ring turned out to be a gift after seeing the reaction that Putin had while just
looking at it.
"At the end of a very productive three-hour
business meeting with President Putin, organized by my good friend Sandy Weill,
I showed the president my most recent Super Bowl ring. Upon seeing the ring, President
Putin, a great and knowledgeable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness.
At that point, I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration
that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin. I have
ancestors from Russia, so it added significance for me to know that something
so cherished would reside at the Kremlin along with other special gifts given
to Russian presidents. It was truly an act of serendipity and one that I am honored
to have experienced. It touched me to see President Putin's reaction to the ring
and I felt, emotionally, that it was the right way to conclude an exceptional
As reported earlier by the AP (among others),
it was unclear in early reports whether Kraft intended for the Russian President
to keep the ring while looking at it. His (Kraft's) reaction, as noted by those
who were witness to the event, gave the impression he did not intend for the ring
to be a gift.
The statement clears up the controversy, at least officially.
Yet there is some speculation that the statement was released once it was realized
the issue could have a negative impact on the work Kraft and his fellow businessmen
were attempting to accomplish on their visit. Kraft and the Patriots may just
be taking the high road, by turning what could have been an embarrassing situation
for all involved into a positive outcome generating goodwill for the owner, the
sport, the business interests of Kraft's group and international diplomatic relations
with one of the most important former communist nations in the world. A ring valued
at over $15,000 is a small price to pay to create that type of publicity and goodwill.
Surely it was a wise move to label the ring as a gift whether or not that was
the original intent.
Is it any wonder Kraft is one of the most well respected
successful business owners in the country let alone the NFL? Shrewd moves such
as creating his own "Fellowship of the Ring" to borrow an overused
Tolkien analogy go a long way in reinforcing the belief that Kraft's business
acumen has been a key part in his teams' continued success.
Official Site - Superbowl Rings Unveiled
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