The Sad Apology, Non- Apology from Robert Kraft


“I am truly sorry,’’ the Patriots owner said in his first statement since last month, when he denied engaging in any illegal activity at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla. “I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans, and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.” Today’s Boston Globe story by Bob Hohler


First of all, two provisos before reading any further: 1) I am a rabid Patriots fan and yell at the TV, and yes, I watched this year’s Super Bowl in Munich at the Hard Rock café with German commentary at 1230 in the morning and 2) the purpose of this musing is not to pass judgment on Mr. Kraft’s action – the goal of this blog is to discuss best practices of giving an apology – especially when you are at the center of media storm and famous, which makes life and the art of apologizing significantly more onerous.


Today, the NFL owners gather in Phoenix to discuss the state of their beloved sport. Mr. Kraft, as much as he prefers not to be, will be at the center of attention. Last year, it was Colin Kaepernick. This year, it will be one of their own, though not the first time a member of this club has been caught behaving badly. (The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy takes a closer lookand wonders if Mr. Kraft should step aside to let his son run the team.)


Was it a coincidence that today’s New York Timesand Boston Globehad two very long prominent profiles on Mr. Kraft, his upbringing and contributions to the Boston and Jewish communities? Was it a coincidence that these two stories ran after Mr. Kraft issued his apology (non-apology) on Saturday?  Hmmm.







Deadspin’sLaura Wagnerwas not sweet on Mr. Kraft’s apology, ”which, understandably, reads as if it was crafted by a team of lawyers) skated over the fact that he has been charged with a crime and that video of him receiving and paying for hand jobs at the Orchids of Asia spa could very well become public in the very near future. It didn’t mention that the charges against him could be dropped if he admits that he would be found guilty at trial. It certainly didn’t mention that one of Kraft’s visits to the “spa” was on the morning of the AFC Championship. What the textbook famous-person, non-apology statement did do was provide an easily digestible nugget for news organizations to put in headlines. It worked.”


Wendy Murphyfrom our home town paper, The Boston Herald, had a similar take, “For a guy with enough money to hire the best PR firm on the planet, you’d think Bob Kraft’s apology might have come within hours rather than weeks of news that he’s facing criminal charges in Florida for solicitation of prostitution. You’d also think his apology would be short and sweet, unmitigated by excuses. But it was watered down by an awkward attempt to describe himself as a man with “extraordinary respect” for women. Kraft’s alleged crimes are deeply disrespectful to women. Someone should have told Kraft that unmitigated apologies work best.”

Often times the quality and timing of an apology will only add to the angst and make things worse, not to mention a conflicting strident statement from a team of lawyers issued the day before an apology, “There was no human trafficking and law enforcement knows it. The video and the traffic stop were illegal and law enforcement just doesn’t want to admit it. The state attorney needs to step up and do the right thing and investigate how the evidence in this case was obtained.” One can only wonder if this apology is heartfelt at all.

What is the old adage? The coverup is often worse than the crime.


Here are the rules for offering an apology:


  • Admit wrong doing. It is not enough to say, “I’m sorry.”
  • Mean what you say – if a statement sounds like it is coming from a law firm, think again.
  • Issue an apology immediately after the transgression, not weeks later.
  • Don’t issue an apology during a weekend news cycle when no one is reading the news.
  • Action speak louder than words; talk about what you are going to do and actually do it.
  • Keep a low profile until the storm blows over.