Roger Goodell’s extended absence from Gillette Stadium was expected to end when the Patriots and Chiefs kicked off the regular season next month, but Goodell decided to call an audible on Thursday night.
Goodell is at the Patriots-Jaguars exhibition game and was spotted by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe visiting with Patriots owner Robert Kraft in Kraft’s box. Volin adds that Goodell was in the Boston area on Thursday and decided to “pop in” for the preseason contest.
It’s the first time that Goodell has been in the stadium since the 2015 AFC Championship Game, which the Patriots won on their way to a Super Bowl title. That was followed by the league penalizing the team and suspending quarterback Tom Brady as a result of Deflategate. Those decisions were not well received by the Patriots fan base and Goodell’s absence from the 2015 season opener was noted with derisive cheers from the crowd.
Goodell will be at this year’s opener, however, and what’s expected to be a hostile reaction to his presence from the crowd probably won’t be diminished by Thursday’s unadvertised visit.