What Robert Kraft told Alex Rodriguez to help him through PED scandal

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Alex Rodriguez and Robert Kraft seem like quite the odd couple.

But the former New York Yankees slugger credits the New England Patriots owner with helping him through a very dark time.

According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, Kraft and Rodriguez crossed paths at the holiday party of a mutual friend -- Mary Erdoes, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Asset & Wealth Management -- in 2014. A-Rod had just served a lengthy suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs, and Kraft noticed he seemed to be in a "funk" -- so he went up to the Yankees star and gave him a little pep talk.

"I was concerned that he was battling with a lot," Kraft told Howe. "People were after him. I just said, 'You’re an important messenger to young people. You’re charismatic. You have a nice way about you.'

"I love that he’s hooked up with J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez). The two of them represent pride for two areas in their ethnic background and are great young role models, and they’re really fun together.

Kraft then said something Rodriguez claims he's never forgotten:

"Build bridges. Don’t burn them. You’re a very special messenger, and people will pay attention to what you say."

A-Rod apparently was so moved that he wrote Kraft's words -- "Build bridges. Don't burn them." -- on a cocktail napkin that he stashed in his pocket.

Rodriguez insisted he still shows that napkin to people today.

"The lesson was really that the messenger is often as powerful as the message," Rodriguez told Howe. "It wasn’t just that he told me to stop burning bridges; it was the fact that it was Robert Kraft, someone who I knew would never sugarcoat the honest truth.

"I knew it came from a place of truly wanting to help me. That was absolutely one of the most important moments of my path back, and really, my entire life."

A-Rod's baseball career never recovered after the suspension (he played just two more seasons before retiring in 2016) but it seems he's found a new calling as an MLB analyst for FOX Sports and ESPN.

Who knew he has Kraft in part to thank?

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