Family matter prevents Pats owner Kraft from attending meeting

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft isn't attending the NFL Annual Meeting in New Orleans this week because of "a private family medical matter," the team announced Monday.

Patriots president Jonathan Kraft will act on his father's behalf, voting on league matters and rule changes, the *Boston Herald* reported.

Also missing this week's meetings are Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, according to the *Detroit Free Press*.

This isn't the only recent league event that Kraft has missed.

Kraft is one of the 10 owners who serves on the NFL's labor committee, but he was the only member not in Washington in the days leading up to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. Kraft instead attended a previously scheduled trade mission to Israel and the United Kingdom.

Should Kraft had made it a priority to attend the meetings that preceded a lockout? Patriots left tackle and player representative Matt Light didn't hold back when asked about it.

"No doubt, 100 percent. I'm not going to lie to you," Light told *The Boston Globe*. "We had people in that room that could get a deal done at any point. Do I know how they're structured within the league? No, I have no clue.

"But I can tell you one thing: (League negotiators) didn't seem to have the ability to do any of that when they had to leave the room."

Kraft certainly is a respected voice.

"Bob is one of the most influential owners, one of the best owners that we have in this league," New York Giants owner John Mara told The Globe on Monday, in reference to Kraft being unable to attend the NFL Annual Meeting. "He's somebody, when he gets up to speak, people listen."

Light, who has been with the Patriots since 2001, believes it would have helped to have every key figure in the same room during the CBA talks.

"If it was me, I would have every one of my guys in those seats making sure that we had one voice and we could get a deal done," Light said.

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