By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Last month at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots honored 25 "community MVPs" from around New England. Ordinary people doing absolutely extraordinary things to help others. Devoted, selfless people.
During the ceremony, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was trying to illustrate how much he respected the people who sacrifice. He mentioned the name of his wife, Myra. And he broke down a little.
Myra Hiatt Kraft died early Wednesday morning after a long battle with cancer.
In a statement, the Patriots said, Words cannot express the deep sorrow that we feel in learning of the passing of Myra Hiatt Kraft. Myra passed away early this morning after a courageous battle with cancer. We are all heartbroken. The global philanthropic community and the New England Patriots family have suffered a great loss.
Consistently referred to as "my sweetheart" by her husband, Myra Kraft was an absolute force for philanthropy here in New England.
She stayed mostly in the background, a silent football partner who could be seen sitting to her husband's right in the obligatory screen shots of the owner's box during game telecasts.
But the bonds she forged with those involved with the team -- most noticeably with some of the players -- are testimony to the huge role she played as the First Lady of the team.
When the Minnesota Vikings and Randy Moss came to town last October, it was Myra Kraft that the deposed wide receiver made a beeline to before the game to wrap in an embrace.
And when it was reported Wednesday morning that Myra had died, Patriots nose tackled Vince Wilfork took to Twitter and raged against the business wrangling that kept him from having a chance to see Mrs. Kraft over the past few months.
"(Expletive) lockout I don't even know how to get in touch with Mr kraft to offer my support and condolences. A wonderful life lost that I probably (would have) had the chance to see again if it wasn't for (money) problems!! Luv ya Myra "momma." Sorry guys had to vent myra was a wonderful woman who my wife and I loved dearly."
That Myra Kraft died just as the NFL's labor issues are being settled brings forth an uncomfortable reality.
Robert Kraft sacrificed more than anyone in this lockout. With his wife gravely ill, he was shuttling back and forth on a weekly basis, trying to solve the labor strife while also being there for his wife during her final months.
It must have caused incredible mental anguish. Players, owners, fans and media owe a debt to Kraft who will no doubt emerge as one of the prime forces behind getting a deal done. Because it was his obligation to the game and the business, Kraft went about his work. Stoically. Without public mention of the battle his wife was fighting.
Materially, the Kraft family has a lot. It could be argued that they give back even more.
"Today we have lost an amazing woman, Mrs. Myra Kraft," wrote former Patriot Heath Evans on Twitter. "She was a true blessing to all that knew her & will be greatly missed."