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The Patriots helped deliver 1.2 million protective masks to Massachusetts

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Inaugural Flight Of New England Patriots’ Customized Plane Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Just like the rest of the nation, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is also trying to fight the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Later on Thursday, however, some help will arrive at Boston’s Logan International Airport in the form of more than one million N95 protective masks shipped in from China. Carrying the load is a cargo plane with some familiar words name displayed prominently on its fuselage: 6x Champions and Patriots.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton, New England’s pro football franchise has provided one of its two Boeing 767s to deliver a total of 1.2 million masks to the United States — the conclusion of what has been described by Beaton as a “weekslong saga that began with the state’s governor and winded through embassies, private partners and the U.S.’s most successful football franchise.”

The story began when Massachusetts governor struck a deal with a Chinese manufacturer to get masks imported to the state. The only problem was that cargo shipments from China to the United States proved to be tricky — even with Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft offering his help and plane: Baker, the U.S. State Department, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others contacted China’s general counsel in New York City to request special permits.

“I’ve never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome. In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us,” Robert Kraft was quoted in the Wall Street Journal. He and his family also decided to pay an additional $2 million to help some of cover the cost associated with the operation.

After permissions were granted by the Chinese authorities — and following stop-overs in Ohio and Alaska — the plane headed to Shenzhen, China. The problems did not stop there, however, as the crew was required to stay on the plane while it was allowed to be on the ground for a maximum of three hours. 2 hours and 57 seconds after its arrival, at 3:38 a.m. on Wednesday morning and with 1.2 million masks aboard, it left China again bound for Boston.

For the full story and more detail on the operation, please head over to the Wall Street Journal.