“Where is Roger?”
That was one of the chants echoing throughout Gillette Stadium on Sunday during the AFC Championship Game, in which the New England Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17.
The man in question, of course, was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who hasn’t shown his face in Foxboro since the Deflategate drama started in January 2015. Goodell opted instead to attend the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome, where he had just visited the previous weekend during the NFC divisional round.
Some speculated that Goodell avoided Gillette Stadium last weekend because of safety concerns, but the commissioner denied those rumors Wednesday in an interview with FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd on “The Herd.”
“Listen, we had two great games,” Goodell told Cowherd. “I was in Boston two years ago for the divisional and the championship games. I try to get to as many stadiums as I can. But, you know, we have two great games, and you’ve got to choose, and frankly, the focus should be on the players, the coaches and the great game. And that’s the way it was this weekend, and the way it should be.”
Goodell’s response probably won’t change much for Patriots fans, many of whom still believe the commissioner is ducking them. Goodell also addressed the apparent resentment New England fans have for him by essentially feigning indifference.
“The fans are going to feel what they want,” Goodell said. “We have 32 sets of fans, national fans, that want to make sure that we’re doing things that are upholding the integrity of the game at all times.”
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images