New England Patriots

Why Jerod Mayo calls Robert Kraft ‘Young Thundercat'

The Patriots head coach referred to Kraft as "Thunder" during his introductory press conference.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Among the several takeaways from Jerod Mayo's first press conference as New England Patriots head coach was his unique nickname for team owner Robert Kraft.

Mayo referred to Kraft as "Young Thundercat" and "Thunder" multiple times during the press conference at Gillette Stadium. He explained that he came up with the moniker because of the 82-year-old's "young heart."

During his Monday appearance on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show," Mayo delved deeper into the "Young Thundercat" nickname's backstory.

"Young Thunder would wear the sneakers with the suits and stuff like that,” he said. “And I always thought it was funny and I was like, ‘You have a young soul.’ And then one day, he sat me down and he said, ‘Do you know the reason why I wear these sneakers?’ And I was like, ‘No.’ And he was like, ‘So I can relate to the younger generation.’

“And I thought that was special. You know, it’s easier to walk up to a guy with a suit and tie and sneakers on than it is a guy with some penny loafers on, whatever, some church shoes. Some Air Force 1s — it’s like a conversation starter.”

Kraft's affinity for sneakers started shortly after the death of his wife Myra in 2011. As he recently explained to NBC10 Boston, Myra's passing led to him focusing more on his physical and emotional well-being.

“I had a different perspective on life,” Kraft said. “I had lost my beloved wife, Myra, and when we buried her, I looked at life a little differently.  And I knew my quality of life was better walking in comfortable sneakers.”

Kraft later formed a partnership with Nike, which released the ninth edition of a Kraft-inspired shoe -- the Patriots Air Force 1 Ultra Flyknit Low -- in September. With his preference for sneakers no matter the occasion, he inadvertently started a fashion trend.

“I think so. It’s what people tell me -- that when they saw me doing it, it made them comfortable,” Kraft told NBC10 Boston.

Kraft hired Mayo as Bill Belichick's replacement just one day after parting ways with the legendary head coach. Mayo has served on the Patriots' staff as a linebackers coach since 2019 and while he does not have previous head-coaching experience, Kraft is confident in his ability to lead the organization moving forward.

“I think we got someone very special, who understands how to manage young people today,” Kraft said of Mayo during the introductory press conference. “I mean, the world is different than 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. And in all our businesses, we try to create a culture that people want to stay with and be there long-term. And I think that Jerod has the makeup and chemistry, and it’s genuine.”

Contact Us