About three weeks ago in Houston, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell handed over the Super Bowl MVP Award to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady after New England managed to pull off an unprecedented Super Bowl comeback from down 25 points to the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter.
Prior to the game, Patriots backers and NFL fans that aren’t so enthusiastic about Goodell had hoped to witness that awkward exchange. Awkward because Goodell suspended Brady for four games in connection with Deflategate, which became a drawn-out legal saga. Now, Patriots tight end and man-child Rob Gronkowski is making it clear that the Commish is persona non grata at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
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The 27-year-old, who got shut down after Week 12 with a back injury, spoke to ESPN’s Cari Champion about his readiness for the 2017 season and about the sentiment in Patriots country toward Goodell. He said it was “great to see Goodell hand over the Lombardi trophy.”
“To tell you the truth, I really don’t think so,” Gronkowski said. “The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what. They have Tom’s back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston.”
During the 2016-2017 postseason, Goodell attended Falcons games in both the Divisional and Conference championship rounds but did not attend a Patriots game. Goodell told FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd of his itinerary:
“We had two great games. I was in Boston two years ago for the divisional and the championship games. I try to get to as many stadiums as I can. But you know we have two great games, and you’ve got to choose. Frankly, the focus should be on the players, the coaches and the great game. And that’s the way it was this week. And that’s the way it should be.”
Gronk’s imagination (“they might just carry out Roger themselves”) probably goes a bit too far. But the Commish probably won’t want to find out next season.