By Tom E. Curran
FOXBORO - Suits, smiles and handshakes all around at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday as UMass held a press conference formally announcing that it's bumping up to Division I football (personal boycott of the asinine FBS moniker in progress here). And while it's nice to know UMass will begin playing its home games at Gillette in 2012, a whole helluva lot more people care about what the stadium's primary tenants will be doing in 2011. Patriots owner Robert Kraft was asked how optimistic he was about NFL football being playedthis fallat Gillette. "I promise I will do everything I can do," said Kraft, who was clear about needing to steer clear of any questions that would compromise the ongoing litigation in federal court. "It would really be criminal if we don't have football here on Sundays."Kraft has consistently used the word "criminal" to describe the specter of NFL games being missed. The more you think about jobs and wages being lost and families being impacted by a work stoppage in a thriving company, the more apt the word becomes. "I know NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and lead NFL counsel Jeff Pash and our whole team are doing everything they can do to continue negotiations," said Kraft. "We've got to negotiate, not litigate. We should have a deal. There's a deal ready to be done where we can play football in the fall. You saw our schedule come out Tuesday.We're excited about that and now we have to find a way to get the players back in."Kraft, who was a fixture at the early part of the latest round of mediated talks in Minnesota, seems earnest about trying to get a deal done that works for both sides. And in the end, the disgust of an influential owner like Kraft over the lack of progress may shame people on both sides into waking up and getting this put to bed before Division I college football becomes the highest level of competition a fan can find.