Robert Kraft reveals why he chose Jerod Mayo as next head coach


The Patriots owner said he tagged Mayo as the team’s future head coach five years ago.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, left, and Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A day after the Patriots announced that they would be mutually parting ways with former head coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft tapped Jerod Mayo in to take his place. 

The move, at the time, appeared sudden. Kraft, however, revealed that the decision had been years in the making. 

Appearing on “The Shop” talk show Thursday, Kraft said the two initially grew close during one of the team’s annual mission trips to Israel. 

“There were about 15 or 18 players and I watched how Jerod worked with them and I said ‘that’s my next head coach,’” he said about the former Patriots player and linebackers coach.

Before stepping into a leadership position with the team in 2019, Mayo was an integral player on the Patriots’ roster from 2008-2016. The first-round draft pick was voted team captain after his first year in New England, a role that he maintained for the next seven years. 

Kraft, in conversation with Las Vegas Raiders receiver Davante Adams, said that the decision to hire Mayo came down to his ability to connect with players.

“In the last decade, the players coming into the locker room are different than when you (Adams) came in,” he said. “How you relate to them, how you connect, we’re the ultimate team sport. You can get paid and be number one, but in the end if you want to win you’re putting team first. And you need guys around you who do that. And this guy did it. And I think he can relate to young people today.”

Upon his hiring in January, Mayo became the youngest head coach in the NFL. His age and former player status undoubtedly give him an advantage in the locker room.

Besides the strong interpersonal skills that Kraft believes a successful head coach needs, however, he added that Mayo checked another important box. 

“You need the tactical skills. you need the game plan, you need all the other things that need to be done,” Kraft added. 

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