BOSTON (CBS) — Brace yourselves, New England. Roger Goodell is coming to Foxboro.
Yes, the NFL commissioner is coming out of hiding and is willing to actually step foot into the home of the league’s most successful franchise during his tenure. It’s a place where there’s been some debate about his willingness to go. Goodell made it seem like he needed to be invited. Jonathan Kraft indicated that Goodell decides where Goodell goes. It was all a bit dramatic.
But it will soon all be in the past, as Goodell will be in attendance for the Patriots’ home opener in September, when they raise their fifth Super Bowl banner at Gillette Stadium.
Michael Hurley joined Toucher & Rich and said the fact that this is even a story shows how badly Goodell managed this situation from the start.
“The fact that you can literally look at Twitter on a Tuesday night and it’s a headline that the commissioner of the NFL is attending the NFL season opener at the defending Super Bowl champions’ home. And the fact that it’s a story speaks to the level of which he screwed so many things up,” Hurley said. “I use Gary Bettman as the standard of commissioner ineptitude, and even Gary Bettman has never stepped in it so badly that he’s not welcome in a building to the point where it’s headline news when he’s actually going to attend a game in his league.”
Considering the deep levels of drama of the two-plus years of DeflateGate, will this be the moment that finally puts everything to bed?
“I mean, it is over. It is over,” Hurley said. “People don’t forget, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything going. There’s nothing to ever be had. Tom Brady is never going to sue the NFL. The suspension’s never going to come undone.”
Fred Toucher pushed back, saying many people have taken the DeflateGate fight on as their “identity, that their whole life is this situation.” Rich Shertenlieb asked if Patriots fans really have a right to be mad anymore, considering the Patriots have won two Super Bowls since the whole situation came off the rails in January 2014.
“Well, [DeflateGate] still happened, and it still was BS, and still was completely slanted and ridiculous,” Hurley said.
That being said, there is some reason for the flames of rage to be subdued.
“I do think having Brady go on to win the Super Bowl, be the MVP, have one of his best seasons ever, set a record for touchdown-to-interception ratio, and literally be almost a flawless quarterback since the moment the NFL levied these accusations against him, I think there’s enough there that people are still mad, they’re still going to rant about it for three hours if you give them the opportunity like I would, but I think the fire is basically at zero.”
(On the flawless note: Brady has completed 878 of 1,347 passes for 65.1 percent passing, 306 yards per game, 78 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, a 102.9 rating, a 28-6 record, and two Super Bowl MVP Awards.)
Jon Wallach said that 95 percent of fans likely have moved on, but 5 percent “will be angry all the time.” Hurley said that’s not without reason.
“I think there’s trust that is always going to be broken between Patriots fans and the league office,” Hurley said. “There are other fan bases that have the same feeling — go to New Orleans and ask them about the league office. And it’s always going to be broken.”
As for the trip itself, it probably won’t be very dramatic, as Roger won’t be sitting among the people in the crowd or gallivant through the tailgating scene.
“In his mind, he is the man of the people. He is going through the tailgate,” Hurley said. “In his mind, that’s what he wants to be. He wants to be loved and hugged. That’s just obviously not going to happen here. He’s going to get whisked in, he’ll be brought in a back door, he’ll be brought right to a suite until they show him on TV, and then he’ll probably bounce.”
Contrary to Rob Gronkowksi’s opinion, there probably won’t be much drama.
“He was going to show up eventually. Nobody’s going to physically threaten the man,” Hurley said. “They’re going to yell and boo. He’s going to be in a box. They’re going to show him on TV for 10 seconds and then that’s going to be that.”
Rich expressed a belief that the trip to Foxboro is part of a larger push to humanize Goodell in an effort to boost his Q rating. After getting pressed on many issues during his press conference and after getting drowned out by boos after the Patriots won the Super Bowl, Rich said the league is clearly trying to help Goodell’s image.
Hurley said that may be true … but it may prove too difficult a task.
“You can do what you can to restore the guy’s image, but he’ll step in it again. That’s what he is,” Hurley said. “[Lying about Brady’s testimony] was a repeat of the Ray Rice situation. And then the Josh Brown situation was a repeat of the Ray Rice situation. The guy doesn’t really advance or progress in ways that most people do. You can only do so much when it comes to humanizing Roger Goodell. He’s too far gone.”
Listen to the full discussion below: