Given: A Fan's Crisis Of Conscience

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Robert Kraft has owned the New England Patriots since 1994. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Robert Kraft has owned the New England Patriots since 1994. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. Prosecutors allege that Kraft visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida in January. That business allegedly has ties to an international sex trafficking ring.

All of this leaves Patriots fans with a dilemma.

He shows up on Sunday afternoon and lets out a deep sigh. The ticket holder has something on his mind.

"I have to figure out if we're giving up our season tickets," he says.

"I'll support whatever you decide," the friend tells the ticket holder, trying to be helpful. "The seats are in your name."

This group of four has been attending Patriots games together for as long as I've known them. When they finally made it off the waiting list, their seats were in the nosebleeds. Not in the top row of the stadium or the row in front of that — but the row in front of that. No matter. These guys were happy to have seats at all.

No previous Patriots scandal had created this crisis of conscience. Not Spygate. Certainly not Deflategate. But the ticket holder is really troubled this time.

"If only Kraft had come out and said he was sorry,” the ticket holder says hopefully. “Said he was still distraught over the death of his wife. Said he now knows that what he did was wrong. Promised the full weight of his charitable foundation would now be dedicated to putting an end to human trafficking."

"Myra died almost eight years ago," I say, not being very helpful.

"The league will suspend him," the friend predicts. "They've issued a statement. The Personal Conduct policy applies.”

The ticket holder and I are not convinced.

"Would it change things if none of the women were trafficked?" I ask, trying to be helpful.

"Yes!" The ticket holder says. "But with a place like that ... he had to know. How could he not know that the woman are sometimes trafficked in a place like that?"

Patriots fans aren’t alone in asking themselves these questions. When one team picks up the player accused of domestic abuse or another trades for the guy who made homophobic comments, fans notice. Some walk away. But when it’s the owner who’s accused, it feels bigger somehow. More important.

"I just have to figure out if we're giving up our season tickets," the ticket holder repeats.

"I'll support whatever you decide," the friend says.

The conversation could go around and around like this forever.

"How soon do we have to renew?" the friend finally asks.

"Soon," the ticket holder says. "But not yet."

This segment aired on March 2, 2019.

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Karen Given Executive Producer/Interim Host, Only A Game
Karen is the executive producer for WBUR's Only A Game.



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