FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The 1993 Patriots season was rough for first-year coach Bill Parcels. The longtime New York Giants coach came out of retirement to take the helm in New England, finishing 5-11 in his first year.
But an offseason acquisition in 1994 would change the organization and the league forever. It wasn't a blockbuster trade or free-agent signing, but rather the biggest acquisition in franchise history: Robert Kraft acquired the team.
27 years ago today, Kraft purchased the Patriots as the then owner of Foxboro Stadium. To save the Patriots from relocation, Kraft offered a $172 million bid to keep the franchise in New England.
In the first year after Kraft took ownership, the Patriots won 10 games and made the playoffs. Parcels won NFL Coach of the Year.
Just two years later in 1996, the Pats appeared in the organization's second Super Bowl, losing to the Green Bay Packers 35-21.
After two more consecutive seasons of reaching the playoffs, the Pats missed the postseason in 1999 and 2000. The following year, 2001, was the beginning of the greatest dynasty in NFL history.
Second-year head coach Bill Belichick and some 6th round draft pick named Tom Brady led the underdog roster into Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams, the so-called "Greatest Show on Turf." A last-second field goal captured the Patriots' first Super Bowl win in franchise history, just six years into the Kraft era.
After a down year in 2002, Kraft, Brady, and Belichick took the term "dynasty" to new heights. The Patriots went to the postseason in 16 of the next 18 seasons, missing the playoffs only in 2008 and 2020.
Back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004 cemented the Patriots in history, but more trips to the last game of the season were coming.
Super Bowl appearances in 2007, 2012, and 2017, along with wins in 2014, 2016, and 2018, set a new standard in the league as all of the playoff wins came under Kraft, Belichick, and Brady.
Kraft has watched his team win 19 AFC East titles in 24 years. Since Kraft bought the team, there have been 13 seasons in which the Patriots have won at least 12 regular season games. Before his ownership, the team never won more than 11 games in a season.
The accomplishments don't end on the field, as the Kraft family has been involved in several non-profit organizations and helped support health centers and hospitals in the Boston area.
Most recently, Kraft helped distribute more than one million N95 masks to health care workers in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
With all the success Kraft has seen from his owner's box at Gillette Stadium, the future may be his biggest challenge yet.
This past season, without Brady, the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 when Brady tore his ACL in the first half of the first game of the season. The team still won 11 games that year.
Kraft's beloved quarterback is now playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Brady is looking to add another ring to his trophy case. The Buccaneers will take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship this Sunday.
As Belichick enters his 21st season as head coach, he and Kraft will try to avoid the unthinkable: missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons. The last time the Patriots did that was 1999-2000.
But here in New England, fans don't care about making the playoffs. After 24 years of Kraft's ownership, only one thing matters:
Reaching and winning the Super Bowl.