Curran: Myra Kraft beloved by Patriots, community


Curran: Myra Kraft beloved by Patriots, community

By Tom E. Curran 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."

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”