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Patriots video tells a multilayered story

Kraft influence in NFL is clear

Last Thursday night, the Patriots threw a preview party for their championship DVD, "Three Games to Glory III," at the Showcase Cinemas in Randolph.

The guest list: lucky fans, a handful of players, the production teams, and Patriots vice chairman Jonathan Kraft.

Besides the chance for fans to mingle with players and view a condensed (68-minute) version of the six hours of material on the DVD, those in attendance also got a look at what the Patriots are all about.

A simple view: The DVD product is what you get when The Fan becomes The Owner and said Fan/Owner is tremendously video-savvy. The two-DVD set ($29.95) is available on and at the Patriots Pro Shop at Gillette Stadium.

A business view: The gracious hostess for the evening was Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements, the company that owns Viacom, which, in turn, owns CBS.

Should anyone be wondering why the NFL has just closed a series of TV deals that likely will top $4 billion per year starting with the 2006 season, you could start by connecting the dots on this evening.

While Patriots owner Robert Kraft personally downplays his influence on the league's broadcast committee, those familiar with the league's operation say it's his unique combination of bridge-building, deal-making, and operating at the top levels of industry that got the deals done a year before the old pacts expired.

Look at the negotiating landscape. On one side, you have 32 owners who are used to being "The Guy" in both their NFL franchises and outside businesses. On the other side are networks who know they're going to have to pay more than they want and maybe get less than they want in return.

The potential for a standoff is immense. Just look at the mess the National Hockey League is in.

Unless you have a way to break the standoff. The Kraft-Redstone connection isn't a bad one, for starters. When Jonathan Kraft describes Redstone as an ardent Patriots fan, he also notes that she's "been a frostbitten fan at Foxborough," but theirs also is a relationship that goes back decades and results in deals being done that benefit both sides.

Thus we had the surprise extensions of the CBS and Fox deals last fall. Then the return of NBC, which had been walking away from major sports deals except for the Olympics, and ESPN taking over the "Monday Night Football" franchise.

It didn't just happen. One observer of the negotiations said, "This round of negotiations built upon the foundation of the previous ones and is designed as the foundation for the next round in five years or so."

So where do the DVDs fit in?

"There was so much history at Foxboro Stadium that we wanted to capture it on tape at the end of the 2001 season," Jonathan Kraft told the audience at Randolph Thursday night. "It turned out that the final game there -- the Snow Bowl -- also was the most memorable, so we added that game to the video.

"Then we went to Pittsburgh and won the AFC Championship game, so we said, `Let's add that to the video.' Next, we went to New Orleans as 14-point underdogs for the Super Bowl. Once we beat the Rams, we figured, `Why not put it all together?' "

Why not indeed.

The Fan/Owners had the ultimate home movie, "Three Games to Glory," one they could share with their fans.

The second time around, the Patriots were more prepared, adding behind-the-scenes footage and chalk talk with Bill Belichick before the Super Bowl win over Carolina.

"Three Games to Glory III" takes it to yet another level.

"It's the biggest single project NFL Films has ever collaborated on," said executive producer Ken Rodgers. "No other team in the league does or has done anything like it.'

"It's the maximum footage you can get on two DVDs," said Matt Smith, executive producer of Kraft Sports Productions.

"We wanted to create a production you couldn't get anywhere else," said Kraft.

Consider it done.

Bump day Game 2 of the Celtics-Pacers playoff series was scheduled to air on Comcast's high-definition Channel 882 last night, bumping the Red Sox-Orioles on NESN to standard definition. However, all three Sox games from Texas this weekend will be available in HD . . . FSN has all Celtics playoff games through two rounds, but the national telecast has bounced around: ESPN last Saturday, TNT last night, NBA-TV Thursday night, and back to ESPN this Saturday . . . Globe columnist Jackie MacMullan and Celtics beat writer Shira Springer join "Sports Plus" host Bob Neumeier tomorrow (NESN, 5:30 and 11:30 p.m.) to talk Celtics and NBA playoffs . . . Charlestown High boys basketball coach Jack O'Brien joins "Sports Pulse" host Ed Berliner tonight at 10 to talk about his team being featured in the Sunday Globe magazine . . . Sox general manager Theo Epstein, a guest with Lou Tilley on CN8's "Out of Bounds" tonight at 11, paused when asked about the cheapest seat at Fenway Park, then said, "A lot more expensive than when I was sneaking in 20 years ago." . . . The Sox and Orioles have a getaway-day matinee tomorrow (NESN, 1 p.m.) . . . Charity dates: May 4 (6-10 p.m.) at Kings in Boston will be WEEI's Bowling Challenge for Children (benefitting The Genesis Fund), with John Dennis, Gerry Callahan, and comedian Lenny Clarke. May 22: Eddie Andelman's 16th "Hot Dog Safari" at Suffolk Downs . . . "It's time to stand up and make a commitment, to quit killing this game and start caring about it. Most of us are sick and tired of the way the sport is being strangled by those responsible for serving it. They've made no progress in two years, and they have no excuses." That's from a guest column by Bobby Orr, writing passionately about the NHL labor impasse in Sunday's Lawrence Eagle-Tribune . . . registered a record 6 million visitors during draft weekend, a 22 percent increase over the 4.9 million visitors a year ago . . . The Revolution have a pair of TV dates this week: Tomorrow (FSN, 7 p.m.) from Chicago and Saturday's home game with Chivas USA (7:30 p.m.). Brad Feldman and Greg Lalas have both games.

Bill Griffith's e-mail address is

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