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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft hails ‘smart’ Taylor Swift, says he was ‘privileged’ to have Bill Belichick as coach

By Jacob Lev, CNN

(CNN) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft says singer Taylor Swift has been “smart” by gaining a new audience through her appearances at Kansas City Chiefs games.

Swift is dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and has been a regular at games during the latter half of the season and the playoffs, often being pictured cheering wildly from the player’s box.

Despite Kelce and Swift being the in celebrity power couple at the moment, Kraft downplayed the “Taylor effect” for the rating success of the NFL this season, but acknowledged the singer has had an impact.

“To be honest, there are 16 games that go on every week and Taylor (Swift) is at one,” Kraft told CNN’s Elizabeth Wagmeister ahead of the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.

“I think she’s increased the fan approval for young women, which we want, but she’s been smart because she is also getting male fans to come to her music. I just think it’s the quality of the product and the parity and what the NFL presents.

“Our ratings this year were the highest for about seven to eight years and you look at the playoff games, it was phenomenal.”

The Patriots finished bottom of the AFC East with a 4-13 record this season, with Kraft saying he feels “bad” that his team “didn’t even come close to qualifying” for the playoffs.

Despite New England not being involved, Kraft said he “hopes” the Super Bowl ratings will break a record.

“The two teams that are playing, it’s unbelievable,” he said.

“You have that great quarterback in Kansas City – Patrick Mahomes – and then the story of Brock Purdy, who was ‘Mr. Irrelevant,’ the last man taken in the NFL Draft.

“The same thing that happened with (Tom) Brady in the year 2000 when he was taken number 199, our last comp pick in the sixth round.”

Kraft when asked about his thoughts on next week’s Super Bowl and the combination of music and sports, called it an “escape.”

“The nice thing about music and the NFL, but really all sports – in today’s world with so many challenges and problems and everybody’s got work problems, family issues – it’s an escape,” Kraft said.

“We build community, both music and sport and everyone comes together. I think of this Super Bowl coming up in Las Vegas with two great teams, who are what I call ‘fourth-quarter teams.’ It should be very exciting and good for America.”

‘A great coach’

Kraft and the Patriots parted ways with legendary head coach Bill Belichick after 24 seasons in January, with the two parties saying they had “mutually agreed” on the decision.

Belichick won the Super Bowl six times while in charge of the Patriots, bringing about the greatest dynasty in the NFL’s long history and developing some of the league’s most iconic players, including Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins.

Kraft said the organization was “privileged” to have Belichick as head coach.

“I am proud that no other team has had a coach for that long,” he said. “Life is a series of new chapters, and we are beginning a new chapter. We have a great new, young head coach in Jerod Mayo. He is building his team and I am looking forward to the upcoming season.”

Kraft added that he “felt bad” Belichick has yet to be hired despite being an “exceptional” head coach.

“I can’t speak for what other people do. I only know what’s right for us,” Kraft continued.

Kraft said he believes Belichick will be coaching next year, adding: “He’s a great coach. He really is.”

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