BOSTON (CBS) — New England Patriots fans were an extremely happy bunch on Sunday, as their team notched their record ninth trip to the Super Bowl with a 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
Still, something was missing from the fun. Or rather, someone was missing.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spent his second straight weekend in Atlanta, avoiding his long-awaited return to New England. Goodell hasn’t been to Gillette Stadium since before the DeflateGate scandal, leaving many in attendance on Sunday night a little bummed out that they couldn’t share some love with the commissioner.
With the victory all but assured, and a little push from 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Scott Zolak, a sing-song “Roger! Roger! Roger!” chant erupted at Gillette Stadium. It soon turned into a “Where Is Roger?” chant, which has echoed throughout the stadium a few times since Goodell slapped Tom Brady with a four-game suspension.
As loud as the Goodell chants were on Sunday, the quarterback told reporters he didn’t hear them.
“I didn’t hear that chant,” Brady said nonchalantly at the podium after the win. “I did hear them singing to Bon Jovi, and that was pretty cool.”
Other Patriots players had a little more fun with the crowd’s reaction.
“Where is he? He’s like Waldo right now,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “He ain’t wanna come here. We don’t know where he’s at.”
Asked earlier about serving his four-game suspension to start the season, Brady used it as an opportunity to praise his teammates.
“It’s because of the hard work of a lot of people. From my coaches and teammates, to our families who support us, it takes a lot of people and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn’t start at 6:40 tonight, it started in April, and even before that,” said Brady. “It’s a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing and I’m happy we’re one of them. That’s what our goal is, and it’s nice to be able to achieve that.”
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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t have much to add when asked if Sunday’s victory was a little sweeter given how the team had to start the season without Brady.
“It’s a special year because it’s a special team and special how they came together,” said Belichick.
Patriots fans may not have gotten their chance to give the commish an earful on Sunday, but he can’t avoid the Patriots for much longer. If the Patriots beat the Falcons in two weeks in Super Bowl LI, Goodell will be the one handing the Lombardi Trophy to Brady and Belichick.