Dear Robert and Jonathan Kraft,
I forgive you!
I forgive you for letting the greatest player in NFL history, the G.O.A.T., TB12, six-time Super Bowl Champion, Tom Brady go.
To say that I am a Tom Brady fan would be an understatement. I was at his first game versus Indianapolis, in the old Foxboro Stadium, squished on a bleacher that fateful fall afternoon. I went into the game with low expectations and even rationalized the cost of the ticket to being able to see the latest and greatest NFL phenom, Peyton Manning. Not only did the Patriots beat the Colts, Brady took the field with a confidence that I will never forget.
I left the stadium that day a forever Brady fan.
I graciously shared my Brady enthusiasm with my family, co-workers and students. I held Super Bowl parties in my home and classroom which included face painting, pompoms and “Let’s Go Pats!” signs that I conveniently stored during the summer months in a Rubbermaid tub labeled “Patriots Super Bowl Party.” (My apologies to fans in other regions of the country who have never had the confidence to label a tub with their favorite team’s name!) I wore my number 12 jersey every Friday to school in the fall and would toss a Patriots football to my students as a morning greeting. It was no secret to my students that Tom was, by far, my favorite player. Many of my five and six year olds agreed, writing about him in their journals. Of course, I beamed with pride.
On weekends, I would put all of my events on hold in order to attend the games as a season ticket holder or in the past few years, on my living room couch. In reality, while I could no longer afford the season tickets due to prioritizing my family’s educational costs, I relished the opportunity to see my Tommy up close and personal on TV.
Then, everything changed and he was gone.
I went through the normal stages of grief; denial, anger, sadness and now acceptance. While I am not going to pretend to understand the reasons behind why he left, I do understand one thing. You are business owners and the NFL is a business. That is just the way it goes sometimes.
My forgiveness though, is not as simple as understanding the obvious fact that you own a franchise. No, it is the fact that you are two of the most generous philanthropists that grace our region, using your good fortune for the betterment and safety of others. I am referring to “Operation Face Mask.”
Ironically enough, the most information I could find about the details surrounding your recent humanitarian venture came from the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper from our rival city, NYC. The story, more like one out of Hollywood than New England, reveals the desperate pleas from our governor to not only track down the goods, but also find a way to get the over one million masks to our healthcare workers, after his previously purchased supply vanished from a NYC port. This is where you stepped in. Recognizing that you had the resources to help, you took action, volunteering the use of your airplane and transforming it from a passenger jet into a cargo plane. Your plane and crew had to go through all kinds of red tape and voyages from Ohio, Alaska and China, then back again to complete the journey.
Your generosity did not end there. You agreed to pay the cost for half of the goods at an estimated $2,000,000!
I believe that the most powerful gesture came from your decision to share some of the masks with New York City. It would have been easy for you to “take care of your own” in a time like this, but recognizing their desperate need as well, you responded there too.
What you have no idea of knowing, is the impact that your generosity has on me specifically. You see, my sister is a hospice nurse for Brookhaven Hospice. She lacked the necessary PPE to protect herself and her patients. She stayed up at night worrying about transmitting it to others including her daughter and aging mother and step-father. With your donation of 2,000 masks to Brookhaven, you helped alleviate some of that stress for her and her fellow nurses.
To my end, I want to thank you for your extraordinary humanitarian efforts. I forgive you because you have helped me and countless others realize what really matters in life. As you say, “We are all Patriots!”
While my adoration for Tom Brady as a New England Patriot will remain in my memories, my gratitude to you will be for always!
A Forever New England Patriots Fan