The NFL’s phalanx of former political P.R. operatives had plenty of time to come up with a talking point that would properly address Commissioner Roger Goodell’s extended absence from games played in New England. They opted for the passive-aggressive Italian grandmother approach.
“If I am invited back to Foxboro, I will come,” Goodell told reporters.
Goodell later was asked if he feels welcome in Foxboro.
“I have no doubt that if I wanted to come up to a Patriots game, and I asked Mr. Kraft, he would welcome me back. That’s up to him, though,” Goodell said.
Um. OK. Well, here’s the thing. If Goodell were to ask Kraft about coming to a game and if Kraft would automatically welcome Goodell back in response, why does the initiation of the process hinge on Kraft? Goodell, who runs the league, would merely have to say, “I’d like to come to a game.” Since #DeflateGate first surfaced, Goodell hasn’t.
Besides, does anyone really think that a visit by Goodell to any NFL stadium depends on a formal invitation? He’s the Commissioner. He goes where he wants, and owners surely regard a visit from him as an honor.
The truth is that he deliberately (and wisely) has avoided New England to the point where his absence has become conspicuous, and the only way it can be plausibly explained two years later is by saying that there hasn’t been a formal invitation.
Now, there has been. If the Patriots win on Sunday, Goodell is invited to the first game of the new season.
Which means that Goodell has yet another reason (beyond the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy and the MVP press conference) to secretly root for the Falcons.