By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Roger Goodell has been M.I.A. in Foxboro ever since the insufferable saga of DeflateGate started. It should have been readily apparent as soon as the NFL commissioner was a no-show at the Patriots’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Foxboro, which was also the first game of the entire NFL season. When Goodell doesn’t show up for a season opener for the first time in his career as the commissioner, surely he won’t show his face in Foxboro for any reason anytime soon.

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But how much do fans really care whether or not he does?

The topic of Goodell potentially returning to Gillette Stadium for a Patriots playoff game has been broached all week on 98.5 The Sports Hub, including a bit of a spat between some of the Hub hosts and Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports and one of the front-line leaders in the media crusade against Goodell and the National Football League. Portnoy has written hundreds of times about how much he despises Goodell, often saying what millions of Patriots fans who similarly loathe the commissioner are thinking.

“El Pres” spoke with Zolak & Bertrand on Wednesday to defend his rhetoric about supposedly wanting Goodell dead. He made it clear that he does not condone murder or violence. Frankly, it’s ridiculous that he even needed to make that clear. Anyone who needed him to clarify that doesn’t get the site’s tongue-in-cheek humor and that’s their problem and no one else’s. Portnoy did, however, “draw the line” at spitting on Goodell if he showed up at Gillette Stadium.

I personally wouldn’t condone spitting on Goodell, either, because that’s about one of the most disrespectful things a human being can do to another that doesn’t involve actual violence or bodily harm. But you’d be nuts to think that there aren’t throngs of fans who would smile if that happened, knowing full well that they wouldn’t actually do it themselves. It also wouldn’t remotely be the fault of Barstool Sports if anything like that took place. There’s a huge difference between harboring resentment toward someone to the point of wishing ill will on him, and actually acting on those instincts or inciting such actions to take place.

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Still, it’s hard to blame any Patriots fan for having some of those negative feelings toward Goodell bubbling underneath after everything he’s done to Brady and the Patriots. And it would be hard to blame anyone for wanting the opportunity to voice their displeasure toward the commissioner for the way he treated Brady and the Patriots throughout DeflateGate. It’s also satisfying for fans to know that Goodell is scared to fave them. That’s why I’m wondering exactly how much fans care if he actually comes back.

It’s possible that Goodell is avoiding Gillette Stadium because of legitimate concerns about his safety. All it would take is one psycho idiot to make everyone look bad. But Goodell certainly doesn’t seem inclined to show up, for one reason or another. If he simply doesn’t want to face Patriots fans and accept the much-deserved shower of boos he’d undoubtedly receive, then that’s quite cowardly on his part.

But I’m wondering how many fans even care if Goodell ever shows back up at Gillette Stadium. After all, he’s plainly showing his cowardice by hiding from Gillette in situations where he clearly should be there. How much do you really care to boo him or give him the finger? Perhaps you’re better off knowing he’s too scared to actually come back and face the music. Perhaps you need that visceral release of raining the boos down on him – but how cathartic would that be, really? Because even spitting on Goodell or punching him in the face wouldn’t get those four games back for Tom Brady or those draft picks for the Patriots.

Do you care if Roger Goodell ever shows his face in Foxboro again? Vote below and let us know what you think in the comments.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.