Kiam responds to Patriots fans' boos with tough talk of rebuilding

December 09, 1990|By Will McDonough | Will McDonough,Boston Globe

BOSTON -- Victor Kiam got the message and says he will pay attention to what the nearly 30,000 New England Patriots fans were telling him at halftime last Sunday in Foxboro Stadium.

"I don't blame the fans for what they did," said Kiam on Wednesday in his first interview since being roundly booed when he went on the field as master of ceremonies while four great players were having their names unveiled on the Wall of Fame.

"If I were sitting up there in the stands, with the way the team has performed this year and all of the other things, I would have been booing myself. When a team is 1-11, everyone involved with it should expect to be booed. Now, if I went out on the field for something like that, and we were 11-1, instead of 1-11, and I still got booed, that would be different.

"But I give the fans credit. They booed me when I spoke, but when it came time for the players, they applauded as they should. I'm sorry it wasn't a much happier occasion for everyone involved. I know the fans were sending me a message, and I got it. But I had a good understanding of how they feel before that happened."

Kiam says there will be sweeping changes in most aspects of the operation after the season, but is not quite clear about specifics.

"I'm headed to Japan this week on a business trip and I will have plenty of time to think things out and map a plan of action," he said.

Kiam says that when he bought the team two years ago, "it was on the way downhill" and that the Patriots are now "in a period of transition" and must keep rebuilding.

"When I bought the team, I think we had something like 20 or 21 players who were 30 or older," he said. "When I was at the Super Bowl last year, I was looking through the [game] program and counted something like nine guys over 30 on one team and just seven on the other. This year I think we got it down to 10 or 11 guys in that category on our team and next year we will probably get it down to five or six. I think [player personnel director] Joe Mendes did a marvelous job with our draft last year, and I will be talking with him in the future about some of the ideas I have. To me, if you want to develop a top team and keep it at the top, you have to have a constant flow of players."

Kiam gave no hint as to whether he intends to keep Pat Sullivan as general manager and Rod Rust as head coach.

He emphasized that "I am not selling the team. I have no intention of selling the team. I have talked with no one about selling the team or moving it to another city. There was a report that I was going to have to sell the team because Remington is going broke. That's ridiculous. We sold all of the product we had for Christmas and had more than $4 million more worth of orders we couldn't fill because we did not have the product. I knew this would be a tough economic market, so I lowered the price of our product to be competitive, and it has worked out well.

"This has been a tough year all around for our football team, but not with Remington. About everything that could happen to hurt a football team in one year happened.

"This Lisa Olson thing? How could anyone ever anticipate anything like that happening? I said when it happened that we wouldn't win another game until it was over, and I was right. There was no way our players could focus on football when they were being investigated by a board of inquiry. These guys are football players; they don't know what it is like to be investigated by professional criminal investigators like they were for this report. It was upsetting to them and everyone else involved.

"Let me say this. I am not going to accept what happened this year. I am not just going to sit back and say we had tough luck. There will be change. We will do what is necessary as an organization to make sure that none of these crazy things happen again and that we give our fans the type of team they deserve."

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