By Tom E. Curran
Cris Collinsworth, the leading Chicken Little in terms of prognosticating labor peace, sounded a clarion call Tuesday for Patriots' owner Robert Kraft to grab the reins in negotiations with the players. Using Kraft's Saturday remarks at Gillette Stadium as a springboard, Collinsworth -- an analyst on NBC's Sunday Night Football -- wrote a blog entry entitled "Robert Kraft: We Need You!"The fact that Kraft signaled concern for the aggravation level of fans is what caught Collinsworths's attention. The former Bengals great wrote, "Now is when we need rational men like Robert Kraft to step forward. Mr. Kraft was a fan long before he became an owner. He is a terrific family man who can see the same view of this process that we are all watching. Please Mr. Kraft take the lead. There are other owners who will be pushing various agendas, but as a player, I would trust Robert Kraft to make a fair deal. I really would. So far Mr. Kraft has not been willing to take the lead, probably because the Hawks always get the most attention. But Kraft is liked and respected by almost everyone in the NFL. He is tough but fair. The players would listen to him. Tom Brady could be the point man. Lawyers be gone. There is a deal to be made, and the time is now. Please Mr. Kraft, take the lead."This isn't exactly a novel concept. Mike Vrabel espoused Kraft, Jerry Richardson and Jerry Jones summiting with a few key players and kicking the lawyers out of the room to get things done. Hasn't happened. But Collinsworth is right; Kraft is not interested in seeing the players left bleeding on the ground. He's not of a mind to "break" them. And I can give you one anecdote why not. Last month, when a breakaway group of players began insisting it be involved in the labor wrangling, Vrabel said that the members of the NFLPA executive committee and its director, DeMaurice Smith, had things under control. Only thing was, the NFLPA had decertified. So Vrabel's articulating that seemed a costly faux pas. I saw Kraft that day at Gillette Stadium and asked -- in essence --if Vrabel's statement would be used as a sword by owners. Kraft waved his hand dismissively, returning to his oft-stated belief that rancor and litigation isn't going to get it done nor will chasing moths like the statement Vrabel made. Kraft does need to take a more forward role. The problem is, while the players may want to see that happen, there are so many agendas among the owners, it may be just too damn hard for them to send out one lone voice to speak for all of them.