Patriots owner Robert Kraft, wracked with the loss of his beloved wife Myra only days earlier, traveled to Washington yesterday to celebrate the striking of a long-awaited NFL labor deal.
What he found was that neither his tireless work, nor his personal sacrifice, went unappreciated.
The result was an indelible, touching image that capped a tumultuous, 136-day lockout. Few NFL fans will forget the moment that Kraft found comfort in an unlikely set of arms belonging to Colts player representative Jeff Saturday.
“A special thanks to Myra Kraft, who even in her weakest moment, allowed Mr. Kraft to come and fight this out,” Saturday said at a joint news conference to announce a 10-year collective bargaining agreement. “Without him, this deal does not get done. He is a man who helped us save football. We’re gracious for that.”
The hug between Kraft and Saturday was the symbolic end to the lockout, but the official end won’t come until more than 50 percent of the players vote for the proposed deal and the union recertifies. While NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith called it “one of the most intense and significant reunification efforts in our history,” it will also be a formality.
That means, for the first time since March, the NFL is in business. Perhaps NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said it best.