Tens of thousands of spectators will pack Gillette Stadium on Sunday evening to watch the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers battle for a spot in Super Bowl LI.
Will Roger Goodell be one of them?
Where the NFL commissioner chooses to spend his time typically wouldn’t be a story, but Goodell is public enemy No. 1 in New England following the league’s handling of Deflategate, and he hasn’t attended a game in Foxboro since the 2014 playoffs.
This weekend’s schedule might force his hand.
The NFC Championship Game between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers on Sunday will be played at the Georgia Dome, which Goodell already visited for Atlanta’s divisional-round game against the Seattle Seahawks this past Saturday. The commish then flew to Kansas City on Sunday to watch the Steelers beat the Chiefs.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, whose team defeated the Houston Texans 34-16 on Saturday night, was asked about a potential Goodell sighting at Gillette during a Monday morning interview with WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan.”
“He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do,” Brady said. “If he wants to come, that would be — yeah, he can come.”
But does Brady want him there?
“He can go wherever he wants to go,” the QB said. “Whoever is at the game is at the game.”
Speaking Saturday on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Patriots pregame show, team president Jonathan Kraft said he’s unaware of how Goodell determines which game to attend on a given day.
“I’ll let you ask the league office about that,” Kraft said. “I don’t know how they pick where he goes.”
Kraft added: “I think the league office determines where he goes, and I don’t know the factors that go into that.
“Owners don’t extend invitations. Opening a stadium or something special (might call for it). I think the league determines based on a variety of factors where the commissioner is going to go. I might be totally wrong on that, too. I don’t know, because I’m sure somebody will take this through social media, and I have no idea. You should probably ask Park Avenue and the guys there about how it gets determined.”
Thumbnail photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images