New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft credits a large part of his champion team's success to one thing that, he says, works in sports and in business.
In a CNBC interview this week, Kraft said he was grateful for the consistent presence of longtime star quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. "We've been privileged to keep continuity with two people who are unbelievable at what they do."
"Even when you are running a business, keeping continuity and having people keep their egos under control" is key, Kraft told "Squawk Box. " "It's almost two decades we've been able to keep this thing running together."
The Patriots, with the most Super Bowl appearances at 10, are going for their sixth championship win when they play the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. It's the third year in a row that New England is going to the big game. A win Sunday would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins ever. Currently, the Patriots are tied at five wins with the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers.
Kraft said the team's brand — and that of the National Football League — is something people can feel good about. "In the world we are living in people are looking to connect."
Before the Patriots left home, they got a rousing send off from their fans. About 35,000 people came to Gillette Stadium stadium — about 29 miles from downtown Boston and 25 miles from downtown Providence, Rhode Island — this past Sunday to bid the team good luck.
"They started lining up at 2:30 in the morning. They saw the players and coaches for 20 minutes at 11:00. There was such good karma and good feeling," said Kraft, the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Kraft Group. The company not only owns the Patriots and Gillette Stadium but a number of other businesses as well.
But that's in New England. The rest of the country doesn't appear to feel the same way about the Patriots. Once an underdog many years ago, they're now a dynasty with repeat Super Bowl performances. In a recent SB Nation's FanPulse poll, 75 percent of football fans said they wanted the Rams to win, while 25 percent were rooting for the Patriots. The Ram's hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times, called the Patriots "football's perfect villain — cheating, haughty, hated. "
Kraft takes it all in stride. "Seventeen years ago on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb 3, we were the biggest underdog in the history of the Super Bowl and all of America was in our corner," he explained. "We've had a pretty good run and we understand everyone wants a turn at it."
A lot of the ire is directed at Brady, who was drafted by the Patriots in 2000 and is the first quarterback in NFL history to win five Super Bowls. He's been referred to as "the most hated QB in football " and was even the subject of a 10-year old's science project. Ace Davis' father recently announced on Facebook that his son won first place for his project that concluded "Tom Brady is indeed a cheater. " It was a take on Brady's infamous "deflategate" scandal, where the Patriots were accused of intentionally deflating footballs they used.
When asked by a young fan on Super Bowl Opening Night about "the haters," Brady replied "We love 'em. We love 'em back. Because we don't hate back," according to NBC Sports Boston.
Kraft called Brady "the real deal," adding he's "one of the greatest, nicest people. He's the same guy he was 19 years ago."
As for whether this Sunday's game is Brady's last, Kraft said he believes the 41-year-old quarterback wants to stay with the team "for many years to come." The 2019 season marks the final year of his contract. "He's someone who wants to perform at a very high level and when he can't do it he'll want to pack it in."
With Brady's winning streak, he can essentially get anything he wants when it comes to negotiations — but the good of the team comes first, said Kraft. "The most important thing to him is to win and not to make money. And so I think he understand that if we pay him a fair wage whatever we don't pay him is going to players to make him better."