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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Robert Kraft stared at the scoreboard, to see if time really had run out.
In a game that meant so much, his New England Patriots had come up a fingertip or two short.
Kraft’s beloved wife, Myra, died days before the lockout ended last July, and football became an escape for his grief. He played a critical role in the negotiations that ended the lockout, with Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday going so far as to call him “a man who helped us save football.”
Myra Kraft may have thought the $172 million her husband paid for the Patriots was excessive, a record for an NFL franchise at the time. But she adopted the team as if they were members of her own family. When new Hall of Famer Curtis Martin was a rookie in New England, Myra Kraft would make him chicken soup, knowing he was alone.
“He’s not just our owner, he knows a lot of us on a personal level,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “He’s our friend.”
When Tom Brady threw his second touchdown pass, he even tapped the patch above his heart twice and looked skyward. The television cameras flashed to Kraft, who looked as if he was the happiest man in the world _ certainly the Lucas Oil Stadium.
“They saved me,” Kraft said earlier in the week. “I never understood what the word heartbroken meant. … This horrible cancer came and it’s wrecked my life. Having this team has been a savior for me.”
A Super Bowl trophy would have been the perfect ending to their story, the ultimate joy to balance the ultimate pain.
“It would have been sensational,” tackle Sebastian Vollmer said, shaking his head.
Instead, Kraft was left to stand alone on the sideline, watching as New England’s season came to an end.
“I’m sure he’s proud of us, but the goal was to win the championship,” Wilfork said. “And we fell short.”
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