Patriot moment

Robert Kraft to receive Distinguished Achievement Award

Robert K. Kraft, chairman and owner of the New England Patriots football team, will receive the Tufts University Athletics Department and Jumbo Club's 2003 Distinguished Achievement Award during Homecoming.
photo of bob kraft
Robert K. Kraft

The award ceremony will take place October 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Cohen Auditorium to kick off Homecoming Weekend at Tufts. Established in 1987, the Distinguished Achievement Award annually recognizes extraordinary contributions to sports by individuals with ties to New England and/or Tufts. Past recipients include Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach, Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan and NFL Hall of Famer John Hannah.

Kraft is a native of Brookline, Mass., and his son, Daniel, is a 1987 graduate of Tufts and a trustee of the university. Dan Kraft will present his father with the award. Kraft Field, home of the Tufts soccer and lacrosse teams, was a gift to the university from the Kraft family.

Robert Kraft is also investor/operator of the New England Revolution Major League Soccer (MLS) team. His commitment to the local sports scene has made him one of the region's favorite sons. He bought the Patriots in January 1994, eliminating the possibility of the team leaving New England. The team immediately became a playoff contender and advanced to the Super Bowl in 1996.

In 2001, the Patriots claimed their third division title in six seasons (1996, 1997 and 2001) after closing out the regular season on a six-game win streak. The streak propelled the Patriots through the three most exciting games in the franchise's history, culminating with Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal on the final play of Super Bowl XXXVI to give the Patriots a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. It was the first championship in the franchise's 42-year history.

In 2002, the Kraft family celebrated the opening of Gillette Stadium, the new home of the Patriots and Revolution. The Krafts' $325 million private investment in the facility was the largest ever made by a sports owner. In its inaugural season in Gillette Stadium, the Revolution capped a banner year for the Kraft family and local sports fans in October 2002 when the team won the MLS Eastern Conference and hosted more than 60,000 fans at Gillette Stadium for the MLS Cup. It was the largest crowd in MLS history.

An influential and respected NFL owner, Kraft was appointed the chairman of the NFL's finance committee in 1998. He also played an integral part in negotiating the league's broadcasting contract. In December 2002, Kraft was named the Sports Executive of the Year and the Sports Industrialist of the Year by two prominent publications.

"Tufts is thrilled to honor a man who has meant so much to sports in New England," Director of Athletics Bill Gehling said. "He is exactly the kind of person this award was designed to honor, an individual from the area who achieved great things in the sports arena while bringing pride and enthusiasm to the great sports fans of New England."

Kraft received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard School of Business. He began his business career with the Rand-Whitney Group, Inc. of Worcester, a company he later acquired. In 1972, he founded International Forest Products, a trader of paper commodities that now does business in more than 80 countries around the world.

Over the past three decades, the Krafts have been among Boston's most philanthropic families, donating millions of dollars in support of local charities and civic affairs. Robert Kraft serves on the executive committee of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and established the Robert K. Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana Farber.