By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Celtics fans in attendance for Thursday night’s showdown with LeBron James and the Lakers were ecstatic to see some members of the Patriots in attendance at the TD Garden. They appeared to have been equally excited for the presence of a T-shirt.
That T-shirt was the infamous design from Barstool Sports, the one that features Roger Goodell’s face with a clown nose. And it was worn by none other than Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports who’s had a bit of a rocky past week with the NFL.
After getting kicked out of Opening Night, aka Media Day, in Atlanta and later kicked out of the actual Super Bowl, Portnoy went to the more amenable city of Boston to attend this game. And in between the first and second quarters, the in-arena cameras showed McCourty twins, Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Rex Burkhead, Duron Harmon, Trent Brown, Sony Michel, Elandon Roberts, Bill Belichick (with Linda Holliday). That was all the prelude to the grand finale, which was Portnoy wearing the Goodell clown shirt.
The crowd went nuts.
Portnoy — and the clown shirt — received a good amount of air time earlier in the game, when sideline reporter Kristen Ledlow gave her report while seated next to Portnoy.
Of course, immediately after the Patriots defeated the Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday night, the Patriots fans in attendance were able to mercilessly boo the commissioner when he took the stage. On Thursday night, those who weren’t lucky enough to attend the Super Bowl were able to have their say.
The history between Barstool Sports and the NFL dates back to the long days of DeflateGate, when Portnoy along with three other Barstool employees staged a protest in the lobby of the NFL headquarters to express their discontent with Tom Brady’s suspension. Employees of the website were then subsequently banned from all Super Bowl events, though Goodell claimed to not know about that.
In an interview with NESN’s Courtney Cox prior to Thursday’s game, Portnoy described his harrowing experience.
“Well they roughed me up. Goodell’s a dictator. He tried to intimidate me. He put me in jail with a couple of drunk people,” Portnoy said. “I missed most of the second half; I don’t care, the Patriots won. Goodell looks like the dictator he is. Everyone hates him. He looks like a clown. Patriots won. I came out smelling like roses. So it was wins all across the board.”
As for a possible peace between Portnoy and Goodell, it might not ever be coming.
“If Roger wants to apologize and say, ‘I made a buffoon out of myself and I’m sorry for kicking you out of your paid seats,’ I will listen,” Portnoy told NESN. “I can’t guarantee that I’d forgive. But I will listen.”