Roger Goodell is now fully aware of Barstool Sports.
If the Commissioner truly didn’t know about the media outlet that had been denied Super Bowl-week credentials when he claimed ignorance during his pre-Super Bowl press conference, he currently does. Thanks in part to defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
Patricia emerged from the team plane upon its return to Boston wearing the distinctive turquoise T-shirt bearing an image of Goodell sporting a clown nose. Goodell, to no surprise, was reportedly upset with the gesture.
An unnamed ownership source told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports that “[t]he T-shirt really bothered [Goodell].” The failure of owner Robert Kraft to keep Patricia from wearing the T-shirt “ticked some people off” in the league office.
While that may have been the immediate reaction, a high-level league-office executive took a page from the Bill Belichick playbook late Friday afternoon, telling PFT that the NFL is “on to 2017.”
That very well may be the case. Given, however, the league’s selective and inconsistent application of rules in the past (as to the Patriots in #DeflateGate, the Saints in the bounty scandal, the Chiefs a year ago with the tampering rules, Dallas/Washington in 2012 with salary-cap violations from the uncapped year, and others), the question moving forward is whether the powers-that-be at 345 Park Avenue will be looking for ways to ding the Patriots generally or Patricia specifically in retaliation for the periodic detours from the high road that occurred in the aftermath of the ultimate revenge for #DeflateGate.
It’s human nature to hold a grudge. The Patriots and their fans clearly held a grudge against the league office. Now, the league office may be holding a grudge about the grudge being held against it.
At some point, however, the NFL needs to privately perform some objective self-awareness and realize that the league botched #DeflateGate badly, from the moment the gauges were inserted into the footballs through the implementation of Tom Brady’s suspension. Otherwise, the cycle will continue — and the there will be more clown-nose T-shirts and more awkward moments and more ugliness that will make pro football more like pro wrestling.