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It was around that time last summer that the embarrassing video went viral. In it, Kraft is helping a bikini-clad Lander rehearse for an audition, which ends with him throwing a fake punch and uttering a profanity. The video burned up the Internet, and Kraft issued a public apology, explaining that he’d been helping Lander get ready for a movie audition. He said he regretted the video had been released and added that he was “going to stick to my day job.”
Asked if the video hurt Kraft’s image, public relations czar George Regan said no.
“What’s going to hurt his image is if they don’t beat Baltimore on Sunday,” he quipped.
Regan was close to Myra Kraft, traveling several times with her to Israel, and he remains close to Robert.
“Outside the family, there’s no one who loved Myra more than me,” said Regan, who has known the family for 25 years and has represented Kraft on occasion.
Of Kraft’s relationship with Lander, Regan says that the Patriots owner loves his family “with his heart and soul,” but “you’ve got to move on with life. Everyone in this world needs a companion. Life is for the living. The last thing Myra Kraft would want is Robert sitting in front of the TV crying at night. She would have kicked his rear end.”
Kraft has been spending more time out of state, “making new friends and branching out,” said his son Josh, 45, who is president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston. His father has also slimmed down — working out and eating better. “He wants to stay vibrant and healthy and strong, especially for his grandchildren.”
Josh says he knows it’s hard for his father to be at the couple’s Chestnut Hill home now that his mother is no longer there. “We’ve had to deal with that,” said Josh. “He’s learning how to manage that and how to live with that. There are so many things that remind him of her.”
Another friend, Donald Trump, met the Krafts 20 years ago. They’ve done philanthropic work together in Palm Beach, Fla., where Trump has an estate. He says Kraft’s life since his losing Myra has been challenging, as one would expect.
“They had an amazing marriage, and Bob was devastated when she died,” said Trump. “He suffered greatly for a year, and he still suffers. But at some point, life has to go on, and it’s going on for Bob.”
Team helped him cope
Kraft himself says as much as anything, his team has helped him cope. “I tell you, the guys down in that locker room saved me. They were really terrific.”
One former player, Eric Kettani — who now plays for the Redskins — painted Kraft a picture of that now-infamous Baltimore kick, with a three-dimensional football going left of the posts. In the upper right corner are the initials “MHK.”
In a conference room near Kraft’s office, there’s an oil painting of a Patriots huddle with players pointing to the sky under the large letters, “MHK.” The players commissioned and paid for it. There’s also a portrait of a young Myra, sent by an artist, a total stranger from Florida. It arrived last week.
Myra Hiatt was 19, and Kraft was 20 when he spotted her in a Boston coffee shop, on a double-date with another couple. He was home in Brookline, on break from Columbia University; she was attending Brandeis.
Grabbing a piece of paper, Kraft draws a diagram of where he was sitting with his friends that night 50 years ago, and where she was sitting with hers.
“When she got up to leave, I winked at her, and she winked back,” he said.
At Kraft’s behest, his friend got her name, and Kraft found a “Myra Hiatt” listed at Brandeis University. He called the next morning, a Sunday, but her roommate said she was at the library. For an hour, Kraft recalled, he went through the Brandeis library and finally located her in a quiet area behind the stacks “with a few other nerdy types.”
They went out on a date that night, which he says ended in a wedding proposal — from her. The next morning, he hitchhiked back to Columbia. They married a week after he graduated from college, in June 1963.
Kraft says one’s choice of a spouse is the most important decision in life, and that he “lucked out.”
Though every marriage is tested, he said, if one is “smart enough and patient enough to stay together, you come out stronger. It’s the same as running a sports franchise.”
In fact, the only time his marriage was challenged was in 1994, he says, when he bought the Patriots, who had won just 19 games the previous five seasons. Myra thought he was crazy. Since 1994, he says, the Patriots have the second-highest winning percentage among American pro sports teams. The first? The San Antonio Spurs, by a hair.Continued...