New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is fond of telling stories. So, one of his favorite hoary old tales is about how Vladimir Putin stole his 2005 multi-jewel Super Bowl ring.
As the story goes, Kraft visited Moscow after the victory and took the ring off, handed it to President Putin to show him the high quality. Putin then put it in his pocket and meandered off into the bowels of the Kremlin.
Kraft embellishes that the Bush Administration wanted to avoid an international incident and sloughed off the matter—telling Kraft the better judgment was to shrug it off.
The ring, according to Kraft, had his name on it and had sentimental value. It must have. As owner of the team, he paid for the ring and had it made. In the years since, we presume he had replaced it or received some insurance compensation.
Yet, with the height of discretion beyond his bounds, Kraft continues to accuse Putin of stealing the ring. This week the Russian leader heard the accusation—and fired back that it was presented as a gift. It has been placed in the official archives of the Kremlin, with most such gifts.
The Russians are less able to show a whimsical sense of humor when they are made into the butt of a billionaire sports owners’ joke.
If Kraft was dumb enough to remove his ring and hand it to a man surrounded by armed guards, he showed uncanny judgment not befitting a self-made billionaire.
In the meantime, we expect Robert Kraft will remove the funny thing happened on the way to the Kremlin story from his repertoire of comic anecdotes.
Read the latest book by William Russo on the Patriots: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS UNDRESSED, covering the 2012 season, now in softcover and e-book on Amazon.com.