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Robert Kraft Is Clearly Terrified of Vladimir Putin

A Super Bowl ring, a visit to the Kremlin, and a secret weapon

Adam Chandler
June 18, 2013
Tim Tebow.(Jetsrant)
Tim Tebow.(Jetsrant)

After the New England Patriots signed New York Jets castoff/quarterback/demi-god Tim Tebow last week, there was a lot of speculation about the meaning of the acquisition. Was this a ploy for New England coach Bill Belichick to embarrass his former employer? Would Tim Tebow play a hybrid position no one had ever heard of? Or perhaps challenge Edward Markey for John Kerry’s open Senate seat? Nobody knew.

Then over the weekend, a story broke about Patriots owner Robert Kraft that changed the entire complexion of the Tebow saga. As it was reported, Kraft is now claiming that his $25,000 Super Bowl ring that Kraft originally said was given as a gift to Russian Premier Vladimir Putin had in fact had been purloined in broad daylight by Putin and his thugs.

But last week Kraft said that when he showed Putin the 4.94-carat ring, the Russian leader put it on his own finger and said, “I can kill someone with this ring.” When Kraft put out his hand to take the ring back, he said that Putin put the ring in his pocket and, surrounded by bodyguards, walked away.

Suddenly the Tebow signing made sense to me. The New England Patriots don’t need another scrappy receiver or strong safety who can also play fullback. Robert Kraft needs his ring back and he is going to send Tim Tebow on a mission to the Kremlin to get it.

Already, the quivers were felt in Moscow as the news that Putin might get Tebowed spread across the Atlantic. Hoping to save face (and tuchus), Putin, who once fake bear-wrestling antics are something of legend, offered to replace Kraft’s ring through Dmitry Peskov, the most backhanded spokesman of all-time.

“Back in 2005 I stood behind the president’s back and I saw how that ring was presented to him,” he said. “All that talk about some kind of pressure that was exerted on him [Kraft] should be the subject of a detailed talk with psychoanalysts, I think.

“At the same time, I am aware that this gentleman is feeling such a horrible pain about the 2005 loss,” Peskov said. “The president will be ready to send him another ring as a gift, which he [Putin] can buy with his own money.”

Kraft really doesn’t want the ring from Putin or the head of the Siberian grendel the ring would no doubt be delivered with. He denied wanting the ring back through his extraordinarily diplomatic spokeswoman.

“It’s a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert retells for laughs,” [Kraft spokeswoman Stacy] James said in a statement. “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 modernising the Russian economy.”

Meanwhile, somewhere in Dorchester, Tim Tebow is training.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.