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Bob Kraft praises Donald Trump ahead of Mass. primary

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Patriots owner Bob Kraft shook hands with players before the start of a preseason game last year.Jessica Rinaldi

Tom Brady had a Donald Trump hat inside his locker.

And now Brady's boss — a man known for stirring up controversy, and winning big — has some glowing words about The Donald.

Bob Kraft, in a statement to the Globe on the eve of the Massachusetts primary, had glowing words for the Republican presidential front-runner. While he stopped short of an official endorsement, he praised Trump as "a very close friend of mine for over two decades."

"While I am not comfortable discussing politics publicly, I am very comfortable talking about my friendships with people who happen to be in politics," Kraft said in a statement.


Kraft said the two of them "have had a lot of fun together socially, including a very memorable evening in 2005 when I had the privilege of being at his and Melania's wedding."

They have worked together on "a number of philanthropic events."

And Trump has also been there for Kraft in times of need.

"After my wife passed in 2011, he was one of the few people who went out of their way and went above and beyond to assist me through the most difficult time in my life," Kraft said. "I will always be grateful to him for his thoughtfulness and his continued friendship."

Trump has been a frequent guest of Kraft's in Foxboro, with photos showing him on the field, in the owner's box, and in the locker room.

Trump also has an intertwined history with the Patriots. He was approached about buying the team in 1988 by the Sullivans, the family that owned the team at the time.

"Donald had his numbers people (accountants) look at the Patriots deal over the weekend," a source close to Trump told the Globe at the time, "and they told him this is one of the worst financial messes they have ever seen."


Kraft got involved in the team shortly after.

In several interviews last fall, Trump mentioned to a Globe reporter that he was good friends with Kraft.

"Call Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots," he said in October. "He's a friend of mine."

Until Monday, the team had for months declined to respond to requests for comment.

Matt Viser can be reached at matt.viser@globe.com.