New England Patriots owner used to run a professional tennis team

Before he came to be known as the man in charge of the New England Patriots success over the last two decades, Robert Kraft cut his ownership teeth in a totally different sport. The sport still involved referees, nets, and balls, but it may not have been one that many would have guessed.

In 1974, Kraft was part of an ownership group that purchased the Philadelphia Freedom of the World Team Tennis league. They then decided to move the franchise to Boston and rename the team the Lobsters.

Kraft explained that the nickname was not only to pay homage to a popular seafood dish in New England, but also the popular tennis shot known as the lob.

Founded in 1973, World Team Tennis is a league that still exists to this day with teams in across the United States in such cities as New York, Philadelphia, and San Diego.

The Lobsters no longer exist today as the franchise folded back in February. (Photo Source: Twitter)
The Lobsters no longer exist today as the franchise folded back in February. (Photo Source: Twitter)

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Kraft would stay on as an owner of the team through until 1978 and the Lobsters became of the best team’s in the history of World Team Tennis. The future Patriots owner was even able to lure the world famous Martina Navratilova to play for the Lobsters.

Like he has now with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, Kraft had a star player in Navratilova and a top head coach in Roy Emerson.

Kraft credits a lot of his success as an owner of an NFL team to the time he first spent owning the Lobsters. Building a team with a star player, hiring a high quality coach, and gaining control the team’s venue were all implemented into what he does today with the Patriots.

Kraft took what he learned from the Lobsters and applied it to turning the Patriots into one of the most successful NFL franchises of today. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Kraft took what he learned from the Lobsters and applied it to turning the Patriots into one of the most successful NFL franchises of today. (Photo Source: Twitter)

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Now he may have got a bit lucky with the fact that his football team has been successful thanks to a future hall of famers in Brady and Belichick. But Kraft’s leadership and stability has been just as important to New England achieving as much as they have since he bought the team in 1994.

Some Patriots fans of today may just know Kraft as the owner of their favorite NFL team. But he had a hand in preventing the franchise from moving to Jacksonville and St. Louis during the years before he eventually took over the team.

So if it was not for Kraft’s efforts and time in World Team Tennis with the Lobsters, New England’s four Super Bowl wins may not have ever happened.

No wonder they could run a professional tennis team; the Patriots are one of the highest-grossing sports teams. Who joins them in the top 30?