After signing Tim Tebow to a free agent contract, the Patriots could never have guessed that they would have an even bigger story on their hands only a week later.
However, New England owner Robert Kraft nearly caused an international incident when he recently told a crowd that Russian president Vladimir Putin had stolen his $25,000 Super Bowl ring during a 2005 meeting. Apparently, the reason he had waited so long to publicize the fact that the ring was stolen and not gifted was because the United States government implored him to keep silent on the issue — a negative Putin reaction to this story might have literally strained U.S.-Russian relations.
Luckily, Putin did not react in that manner, but rather a spokesman expressed confusion over Kraft’s recent tale. He stated that Kraft had, in fact, presented the ring as a gift to Putin and that it was still in the Kremlin’s library.
Perhaps the White House made another call to Kraft’s camp, or maybe owner of the nearby Brooklyn Net Mikhail Prokhorov (and native Russian) headed out to Foxboro to provide a little “muscle.”
Or maybe Kraft really did just make his side of the story up. Whatever the case, the team is backing off any talk of Putin having stolen anything.
“It’s a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert re-tells for laughs,” a Patriots spokesman reportedly said. “He loves that his ring is at the Kremlin and, as he stated back in 2005, he continues to have great respect for Russia and the leadership of President Putin. In particular, he credits President Putin for modernizing the Russian economy.”
“Modernizing the Russian economy?” Had someone from the United Nations been speaking on Russia, we could understand where those words came from. But while that topic alone is up for debate, the point was not at all necessary in a statement made by a football team regarding a Super Bowl ring.
Maybe the NSA had gotten on the case?
Or, even better, perhaps this was all a huge stunt for some publicity — after all, the NFL is striving to move a team overseas.
Said Patriots spokesman Stacey James: “An added benefit from the attention this story gathered eight years ago was the creation of some Patriots fan clubs in Russia.”
So, was this a non-story? Or did some people in the American or Russian government make sure this became a non-story?
[H/T: Pro Football Talk]