Bob Kraft is sorry.
However, his legal situation being a bit complicated right now, he can’t say what, exactly, he’s sorry for.
The New England Patriots owner broke his near-silence this weekend surrounding his charges for soliciting prostitution. In a lengthy statement, Kraft apologized for disappointing family, friends, co-workers, fans, and “many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”
The timing of the statement, which was released Saturday, wasn’t coincidental. Kraft was headed for a meeting of NFL owners, where he was sure to be besieged with questions about his pending prosecution. Speaking of that prosecution, Kraft also faces a looming court date in Florida.
In his statement — which seemed aimed at the court of public opinion rather than a court of law — Kraft stressed that his unnamed activities were at odds with the values that have shaped his life, and pledged to work to repair the damage. He included the obligatory statement of respect for women, singling out one in particular: his late wife, Myra.
“I have extraordinary respect for women; my morals and my soul were shaped by the most wonderful woman, the love of my life, who I was blessed to have as my partner for 50 years,” Kraft stated.
Although my sympathy for Kraft is seriously limited, I don’t find it hard to believe that the past month has left him in a tailspin. For decades, he has been celebrated in this region and beyond as a philanthropist associated with many noble causes; now he’s fighting to suppress the video evidence against him in a criminal case that could hardly be more tawdry.
At the risk of seeming churlish, Kraft’s apology didn’t do much for me. There’s so much it doesn’t address, including what he was doing at a strip-mall massage parlor in the first place. The first step in any apology worth making would seem to be taking responsibilities for one’s actions. But, of course, Kraft can’t take responsibility while still publicly maintaining his innocence.
As it happens, fighting human trafficking has been among the causes Kraft has embraced. He has been a high-profile supporter of the antitrafficking group My Life My Choice, which supports young womengetting out of the sex industry.
That group now wants to see what he is prepared to do next.
“We would welcome the opportunity to work with Mr. Kraft and the NFL to begin the healing process and continue our important work on behalf of vulnerable young people,” executive director Lisa Goldblatt Grace said by e-mail Sunday. “In moving forward, now is the time for Mr. Kraft to think about what true accountability, true restitution, and true restorative justice could look like.”
Over the past couple of weeks, Kraft’s surprisingly aggressive legal strategy has begun to take shape. Seizing on the fact that no one has been charged with human trafficking in what was originally touted as a human trafficking investigation, his team seems poised to argue that the case has been overcharged, and that the evidence may have been improperly gathered. Maybe his high-priced legal team can successfully make that case, but keep in mind that the prosecution says it has him on video.
But the real danger for Kraft has never been about getting convicted of a couple of misdemeanors. Even if he beats the rap — which I wouldn’t bet on — that won’t solve his problems with the NFL, which will probably discipline him. And it surely won’t restore his reputation as a somewhat quirky but fundamentally benevolent soul. That reputation, as it turns out, means a lot to him.
From a public relations standpoint, Kraft’s statement hit all the right notes, particularly in its evocation of the deeply admired Myra, who died in 2011. But the disconnect between Kraft’s words and his behavior can’t be papered over by a press release, however artfully composed. Kraft claims he wants to use his platform to make a difference.
On that task, he has barely even begun.