Rowland the defector: Governor roots for Patriots

He’s still no fan of owner Robert Kraft, but Gov. John G. Rowland says he is again rooting for the New England Patriots.

Rowland, who famously pronounced himself a New York Jets fans after Kraft canceled plans to move the Patriots to Hartford, said he found himself rooting for the Patriots last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I never thought that day would happen,” he said Wednesday during a speech at the Oakdale Theater.

Neither did his wife, Rowland said, describing Patricia Rowland as “shocked and alarmed” that he would support the Patriots after the team spurned Hartford and Connecticut.

Offering what he called “executive pardon,” Rowland said he is encouraging Connecticut fans to root for the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

“It’s appropriate, it’s the right thing to do. It’s the local team,” the governor said.

“Don’t go crazy,” Rowland added. “We don’t have to like the owner. — I’ve been able to turn the other cheek and I hope you can as well.”

In late 1998, Kraft and Rowland announced a deal to move the team to Hartford by 2001. Kraft canceled the agreement in April 1999, saying he was concerned that a stadium might not be ready until 2003.

Soon afterward, the Massachusetts Legislature approved $70 million for a new stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

–Associated Press

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