FOXBORO, Mass. — Roger Goodell will be in the house Thursday night as the New England Patriots open the 2017 NFL season against the Kansas City Chiefs, and he’s sure to get an earful from Patriots fans still salty about the league’s handling of Deflategate.
Asked Tuesday how he felt about the NFL commissioner visiting Gillette Stadium, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski offered a simple, two-word response: “Ask Tom.”
Tom, of course, is Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was slapped with a four-game suspension for his role in the underinflated-footballs scandal. New England weathered the storm with Brady sidelined, then won 14 of its next 15 games after he returned, including a historic, come-from-behind victory in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Patriots will unveil the banner commemorating that championship before their game against the Chiefs. Gronkowski, who missed last year’s season opener with a hamstring injury, is expecting a festive atmosphere in Foxboro.
“It’s electricity, for sure,” Gronkowski said. “I love the electricity, and I love being electric. … For the fans, it’s going to be a great atmosphere. Everything going on, the banner drop, the fireworks. We just try to block that out, because obviously, we’re playing a big game. We’ve got the Chiefs, and nothing’s more important than opening the kickoff and being prepared for them.
“But you’re going to be juiced up running out of that tunnel. It’s going to be loud, and it’s going to be fun.”
Goodell was at the Patriots’ preseason opener last month, but he hasn’t attended a regular-season or postseason game at Gillette since the 2014 AFC Championship Game — the game that kicked off Deflategate.
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