New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can't go a day during Super Bowl week without reporters asking him what he thinks about President Donald Trump.
The future Hall of Famer has been deflecting the political bait, saying he wants to focus on beating the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday night's championship game. The same goes for his teammates. When a reporter asked various players what they think about Trump's potential impact on the economy — as this reporter did — she was met with a smile and quick, "I defer." (Falcons players did answer the question: "He's a businessman so he probably knows what he's doing," said cornerback Deji Olatoye.)
It's different, however, for Brady's boss. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has known Trump for 20 years. He attended Trump's wedding to Melania. "Actually, Bill and Hillary were at the next table," Kraft told CNBC, "so it just shows you how things evolve, that you can never predict what's really going to happen."
Kraft said Trump's economic plans could have a positive effect across the socioeconomic spectrum. "We think the incoming administration's policies are very pro-business, which is exciting to us," he said. "I think what's happened over the last decade (is) working families and poor people, their situation has worsened."
Kraft said changes to regulatory and tax policies will create jobs and economic activity. "I personally hope it will bring great help and sort of be a catalyst to the inner cities to get better jobs there," he said.
When asked how Trump's trade and immigration policies might play out, Kraft said with a smile, "Well, I'm not as skilled as you might be in politics, but what I do believe is he is committed to put America first and do what's in America's best long-term interest."
Kraft said he holds Trump in high personal regard. Kraft said he was "really in rough shape" after his wife, Myra, died of cancer in 2011, and the Trumps came to his synagogue and visited him at his home. "He called me once a week, every week, to see how I was doing," Kraft said. "He was just a great friend at a difficult time. I'll never forget that for the rest of my life."
In addition to owning the Patriots and Major League Soccer's New England Revolution, billionaire Kraft runs a diversified company that includes a paper and packaging business. "We have manufacturing facilities throughout America — the Carolinas, the Northeast, and California."
Nothing, however, compares to owning an NFL dynasty. Still, NFL ratings have stumbled this season, but Kraft pointed out that football remains the top draw on television. "I think all programming has gone down," he said.
Even so, changes could be made to the viewing experience, making the game move faster. "I think there are things we can do to improve our product, in terms of the number of breaks we have," Kraft said. "I think the commissioner spoke about that yesterday at his press conference."
Speaking of the commissioner: The relationship between Roger Goodell and the Patriots has been strained — to put it mildly — since the league suspended Brady for four games in a scandal about allegations that Patriots footballs were deflated in the 2015 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
"I think I've been very clear that the league really messed up the situation," Kraft said. "In a way, it maybe helped us, because our team really came together, our fan base did, and here we're playing the biggest game that matters on Sunday, and we hope to close the order."
Goodell was at Gillette Stadium during the "deflategate" game, but he has not returned to Foxborough since. The commissioner said Wednesday he'd be happy to watch a Patriots game in person again if invited. When Kraft was asked if he planned to extend an invitation, he laughed and replied, "I think we're done," politely ending the interview.