Myra Kraft, wife of Patriots owner, dies at 68

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Myra Kraft, wife of Patriots owner, dies at 68

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Myra Kraft, the wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and a long-time philanthropist, has died. She was 68.

The NFL team said in a statement on its website that Myra Hiatt Kraft died Wednesday morning after a battle with cancer. The statement said "we are all heartbroken" and added that the philanthropic community has "suffered a great loss."

Myra Kraft held key positions in numerous charitable and community organizations.

She managed the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation and was president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, which contributed millions of dollars to charities in the United States and Israel.

In 1995, she became the first woman to chair the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, a position she held until 2002.

She married Robert Kraft in June 1963 while she was a student at Brandeis University.

Myra Kraft was the daughter of Jacob Hiatt, who grew up in Lithuania and moved to the United States in 1935. He settled in Worcester, where she was born. Hiatt became president of the E.F. Dodge Paper Box Corp. in Leominster in 1938 and stayed on when it was bought by Whitney Box.

The company is now known as the Rand-Whitney Group which Robert Kraft bought in 1972. He now serves as its chairman and chief executive officer.

Myra Kraft also served as chairwoman of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and was on the board of directors of the American Repertory Theatre, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, and Brandeis.

The Krafts have four sons, Jonathan, Daniel, Joshua and David. Jonathan is president of the Patriots. Daniel is president and CEO of International Forest Products, founded in 1972 by his father. Joshua is president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.

Bill Belichick issued a statement on Wednesday:

On behalf of the entire Patriots football operation, we mourn the passing of Myra Kraft. As much support as her quiet but unmistakable presence provided us in the competitive arena and as much as I personally will miss her warm embraces before and after each game, Myra shined brightest in a much broader arena.

In the humanitarian arena, her generosity through philanthropy was admired and appreciated by all. She made a permanent impression on hundreds of coaches, players, staff and our families as a model of grace, strength and giving. Myras vision and example will impact and remain very much with our team forever.
-- The Associated Press

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

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When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona. 

Gronkowski doesn't think Goodell can visit Gillette: 'The fans are nuts'

Gronkowski doesn't think Goodell can visit Gillette: 'The fans are nuts'

At this point, there may be no getting out of it.

Roger Goodell chose to visit Atlanta twice in as many weeks during its run to a Super Bowl, and in the process he opted not to check in at Gillette Stadium for either the Divisional Round or the AFC title game. But once the Patriots won Super Bowl LI, many felt as though Goodell would simply have no choice but to attend the 2017 regular-season opener in Foxboro. 

There are those who are itching to have him visit. There are those who hope he stays away. In an interview with ESPN, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't put himself in either camp, but he seemed to suggest that it might not be the best idea for the commissioner to show his face in New England.

"To tell you the truth, I really don’t think so," Gronkowski said when asked if Goodell could come back to Foxboro any time soon. "The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what. They have Tom’s back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Goodell hasn't been to Gillette Stadium since Deflategate, but he said during Super Bowl week that he'd be happy to visit if he was invited.