HOUSTON — Roger Goodell took the podium days ahead of Super Bowl LI for his annual press conference at the league’s title game. The press conference occurred Wednesday instead of Friday, the typical day for it, with many believing Goodell wanted to distance any comments or questions about Deflategate as far away from the Patriots actually playing as possible.
Whatever the case, he was asked about Deflategate very early. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe inquired about Pats owner Robert Kraft saying Goodell got “bad advice” on the matter.
Goodell’s answer won’t appease most folks, because according to the commissioner, the league is simply “moving on.”
“We had a violation, we went through the process, we applied the discipline,” Goodell said. “It was litigated extensively, it was validated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We’re moving on from that. It’s part of our history. We’re comfortable with the process and the decision and we’re focusing on the game now.”
That’s about as close to saying “we won” as you possibly can come. And the NFL did win in the court of law. But the problem is most — if not all — Patriots fans believe Tom Brady was unfairly suspended four games to start the season.
That the Patriots won 14 games and made it back to their seventh Super Bowl under Bill Belichick and Brady only increases the vitriol within the fan base.
And with increasingly aggressive questions from the NFL media — including Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe and then Tom Curran of CSN New England — Goodell refused to back down.
Asked by Shaughnessy about the “war” between the league and Patriots fans, Goodell said it’s perfectly OK for Pats fans to be miffed at him and that there’s nothing “awkward” between he and Brady, Belichick and Kraft (or anyone with the Pats).
“I would tell you that it’s not awkward at all for me. We have a job to do. We do our job — as I said there was a violation, we applied the process and the discipline,” Goodell said. “We understand the fans who are loyal and passionate for a team and object and don’t like the outcome. I totally understand that.”
Pressed about not appearing in Gillette Stadium for two years, Goodell said sometimes that happens and he would be happy to come back … if he was invited.
“I was in Boston two seasons ago for two consecutive playoff games the same way I was in Atlanta this year,” Goodell said. “That happens.
“If I’m invited back to Foxborough, I’ll come.”
And as far as people around the league agreeing with him, Goodell doesn’t seem concerned about whether people like what decisions he’s making.
“I don’t expect for one second for people to agree with the decisions we make [as a league]. Those decisions are contentious and sometimes less-than-perfect decisions. But you do that in the interest of the game and the long-term interests of the NFL.
“If we can do it differently, we’ll do it differently.”
Most Patriots fans would probably disagree with the assumption that the NFL handled the Deflategate matter in a fair way and most Patriots fans are going to remain angry despite Goodell’s claims that the NFL has “moved on.”
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Roger Goodell’s answers at 2017 Super Bowl will only make Patriots fans angrier