President Trump’s ties to the Patriots are well documented, as he has repeatedly praised the team and, on the campaign trail, cited the support he had received from New England quarterback Tom Brady, Coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. Now Kraft, who has spoken warmly of his friendship with Trump, is hoping his pal can use his newfound political power to help retrieve a valuable item.
That would be the Super Bowl ring that Vladimir Putin famously took — or, to hear the Kremlin tell it, gratefully accepted — from Kraft in 2005.
“I do have an emotional attachment to that ring,” Kraft told Fox Sports on Sunday, during coverage leading into the Super Bowl. As well the owner might, considering that the ring is adorned with 124 diamonds, is valued at $25,000 and, most significantly to Kraft, symbolizes his team’s triumph in Super Bowl XXXIX, when it defeated the Eagles for its second straight championship and third in four years.
Of Putin’s possession of that ring, Kraft said Sunday, “I was willing to have one made with his name on it. Maybe we will have the new president bring it to him when he connects with him.”
Shortly after the incident occurred in Moscow, Kraft issued this statement: “At the end of a very productive, three-hour business meeting with President Putin . . . I showed the president my most recent Super Bowl ring. Upon seeing the ring, President Putin, a great and knowledgeable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness. At that point, I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin.”
But the owner offered a very different version of events in 2013 (via the New York Post): “I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring.’ I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
In response to those comments, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird. I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift.”
Peskov added that Putin did not wear the ring but that it was on display at the Kremlin’s library, along with other gifts to the Russian leader. Kraft had said that he was contacted by the Bush White House in 2005 and asked to pretend as if he had made a gift of the ring, all the better to avoid in international incident.
Following Peskov’s 2013 remarks, a Patriots spokesman said that Kraft was just joking about having the ring stolen from him by Putin. “He loves that his ring is at the Kremlin and, as he stated back in 2005, he continues to have great respect for Russia and the leadership of President Putin,” the spokesman said.
Now we’re back to Kraft making it sound as if he would very much like to have that ring returned to its rightful owner. With the presidency now held by Trump, a man who has made clear a desire to have better relations with Russia and appears eager to get on the same page with Putin, the Patriots owner could be hoping that the stars are aligning for him.
More from Super Bowl LI:
Couch Slouch: Patriots’ comeback darkens a nation’s already dark hour