In sports, an intricate play’s success depends entirely on each athlete’s engagement and performance. And it was no different in Boston’s triumphant crusade April 2 to collect 1.7 million N95 respirator masks from China. The team in place was strong; the lineup featured an ambassador, two nations, three governors, a well-known family, a large corporation, members of the National Guard and an even more recognizable plane. Each player gave 100%, but it was Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, who emerged the MVP.
Two weeks earlier in March, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker had secured the medical supplies through arrangements with Chinese manufacturers, but they would still have been sitting in boxes around the world instead of being used by front-line workers in the state if it weren’t for Kraft. He and his family spent $2 million to acquire the masks, then offered transportation on the Patriots’ plane, fondly referred to as the AirKraft. The plane flew to Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, filled its cargo with the crates of masks in the early morning of April 1 and returned to Boston, arriving April 2, with stops in Alaska at each end.
Kraft had one request—that 300,000 of those masks be delivered to medical workers in the state of New York as well. And sure enough, Friday, April 3, the Patriots’ giant tractor trailer rolled up to the Javits Center in Manhattan with police escorts in tow. “I thought it might be cool if the owner of the New England Patriots is doing whatever he can to help the Jets and Giants fans have better health,” says Kraft. He went on to note that he “wanted to give hope and good cheer at this time that we’re all banding together and trying to do what’s right.” That is the only page out of any playbook we should all follow.
Photography by: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images