On Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell convened a videoconference of owners to discuss the new TV deals. During the session, Goodell gave one owner significant credit for his role in the negotiations.
Per a source with knowledge of the call, Goodell praised Patriots owner Robert Kraft for the efforts he invested over eight months in order to get the deal done. Kraft used close relationships with key executives at each of the league’s network partners — NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, and now Amazon — to work through difficult and complex negotiations.
As the source explained it, these deals were far more complicated than ever before, thanks to the rise of streaming platforms that supplement traditional broadcast avenues. Also, for the first time ever, a major contract was negotiated to sell a key prime-time window to a streaming platform, Amazon Prime.
Ten years ago, Kraft was instrumental in the negotiations that ended the offseason lockout, laying the foundation for what has been a decade of labor peace, and what has become a much better relationship between the league and the union.
Some will shrug at Kraft’s efforts as going with the territory of being an owner, but he’s got plenty of other things that require his attention. The time spent over the past eight months focused on getting these deals done was time he could have devoted to his broader business interests.