Boston Magazine – The past couple of years, he’s been making calls that begin like so: “This is Robert Kraft. Do you know who I am?”
Andrew Schiff answered the phone to that question last year at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. He said to Robert Kraft, “I know who you are. But I have no idea why you would be calling me.”
“I have good news for you,” Kraft said. He told Schiff that he was giving his nonprofit, which teaches culinary skills to unemployed adults, $100,000.
Kraft also told Schiff not to tell anyone about the call. And there was more: In order for Schiff to get the money, he’d have to raise another $100,000 from others.
Two hundred thousand dollars’that would cover a year of the culinary program’s operating costs, Schiff thought. But he’d have an easier time convincing others to give if he could use Kraft’s name. Could he, please?
There was a pause.
“Okay” Kraft said. The generosity was no surprise. With his wife, Myra, as the point person, Kraft had long been one of Boston’s biggest philanthropists, to the tune of more than $100 million over the past three decades. … He’s still writing checks, still feeding the homeless, still going off to charity board meetings. He’s still busy by nature. Still, in fact, driven. Why, just this summer he took 19 Hall of Fame football players on a weeklong trip to Israel, on his own dime.
Still, something about Robert Kraft feels off. Even or especially when he’s being generous. … Claudia Green, the executive director of English for New Bostonians, was meeting with staff early this year when … she picked up the phone to: “This is Robert Kraft.” She knew who he was. “I encourage you to use the Kraft name with other donors.” he told Green. She says the impact of her conversation with Kraft was “a lifetime in two minutes.” Offers like these don’t come along every day.
And something’s been off, as well, in the way Kraft has swung between rage and desperation in trying to control the damage of Deflategate, the latest scandal that threatens to tarnish his team’s image. At the podium, staring into the cameras and declaring the team’s innocence, Kraft hasn’t been buffing and shining his image the past year so much as demanding: Do you know who I am?
I’ve been a stalwart, consistent supporter of Mr. Kraft for all these years, but not after reading this. I appreciated that the man saved pro football in the region, turned the worst franchise in all of sports into the model of success, tore down the most amateurish stadium in North America and replaced it with a state-of-the-art facility without the use of taxpayers’ money or charging his fans for personal seat licenses. And I respected all the good works the man has done with that $100 million he and his late wife gave away.
But sorry, Kraft family. Those days are over. This article has finally pulled back the veil that’s been over my eyes all this time. Now that I know he’s calling food banks out of the blue to offer them generous donations and allowing them to use his name in order to get matching donations, I’m done. Sure, Andrew Schiff might think he’ll be able to save lives with the support and perhaps Claudia Green believes she got a lifetime of help in two minutes, but thanks to this crack investigation by Boston Magazine, I know different.
Hell, I even watched the video of that trip to Israel. I watched NFL greats like John Hannah, Andre Tippett and Curtis Martin give testimonials about how spiritually enriching it was. I saw Mel Blount, one of the baddest men in the history of football say how rewarding and life-changing it was. And I bought into the hype.
I’m embarrassed to say I actually applauded him for stepping to that podium and defending his team, his coach and his quarterback in the face of the most ludicrous and pointless non-scandal ever in pro sports. I can’t even tell you how stupid that makes me feel right about now.
Thanks to Boston Magazine, now I know the truth. Something about Mr. Kraft is off. Admittedly I don’t know what. I read through all 10,000 or so words of this piece, none of which shed any light into what that “something” is or exactly what “off” is supposed to mean.
What I do know is the author talked to several unnamed sources who anonymously have non-specific bad things to say about him. Including “a longtime Bostonian” who “has studied Kraft” and given him “a lot of thought for many years” (>cough< Ron Borges >cough< Dan Shaughnessy >cough, cough<) who calls him “the neediest man I have ever met.” Which is all any of needs to hear to be convinced that yes, there’s a story here.
Just what that story is or why Boston Magazine felt compelled to run a hatchet piece about how much a man gives to charity remains a mystery. I guess we can just conclude that nothing is “off” with American journalism. It’s going down the toilet right on schedule.
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