After watching his team put together the greatest run in NFL history, Robert Kraft had to know the New England Patriots would suffer through a losing season at some point.
That didn't change the experience one bit for Kraft when that "some point" came last year.
"How did I feel?" Kraft repeated after being asked how it felt to watch the 2020 Patriots endure a 7-9 season. "Well, I’m not going to use the word, but it was horrible. After my family, the Patriots are the most important thing in my life and I think what we can do to impact the community but also the privilege I have of owning this team in my hometown. It’s like I said when I bought the team, our family is a custodian of a public asset.
"The bottom line here is winning. That’s what this business is and when we don’t, it’s not a good feeling. I’m not going to go into how I operate and manage, but we’re involved in quite a few businesses, we believe in trying to get good people and having stability in all our businesses. And I think we’ve sort of done that here. And the record speaks for itself. We’re in a business where everything is designed so you go 8-8 or (9-8) under the new setup. The way games are scheduled, the teams you play, everything, the way you draft. There’s no other sports league that has everyone spend the same amount of money. So it’s a real challenge and I think we have developed some ways of operating in analytics and things that drive us.
"The bottom line is we want to win and when we don’t, we’re not happy.”
After a free agency spending spree that Kraft said was a result of unique circumstances, namely the Patriots being one of few teams with ample cap space, the owner is hopeful his team can go back to what it's done every year but one since 2000: win a lot of games.
It's not just the newcomers that have Kraft hopeful but also Cam Newton being back for a second year after not having to benefit of offseason camps in 2020 and then having his season interrupted by a bout with COVID.
At the close of his 30-minute media session Wednesday, Kraft was asked whether he expects the Patriots to be contenders in 2021.
“I expect to be a contender every year," he said. "That’s my objective. Last year was very disappointing and I really do believe that Cam getting COVID and what it did to the team, it changed a lot when we were in a good place Now we’ll have a chance to see.”