If there’s a silver lining to yet another appearance by the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl—they’re early three-point favorites—it’s that the whole thing should make commissioner Roger Goodell at least a little uncomfortable. Goodell has gone out of his way to avoid New England this postseason. So now the Patriots will just have to come to him.
Goodell traditionally attends one game each playoff weekend, and he was in Seattle for the wild card game. Fine. For the divisional weekend, he traveled to Atlanta—also fine. But then, when the top-seeded Cowboys got knocked off, that meant the Falcons would host the NFC Championship, so under normal circumstances you’d have expected Goodell to take in the AFC title game rather than go to Atlanta again. He went to Atlanta again.
Patriots fans noticed. They’ve spent all season rubbing their team’s success in the man who pursued Tom Brady’s Ballghazi suspension all the way to an appeals court, and while satisfying, it’s even more satisfying to tease the commish for hiding. Former Patriots backup QB and current radio broadcaster Scott Zolak made a little sign and displayed it on the jumbotron:
The crowd chanted for Goodell—at one point, a mocking “Where’s Roger?”, and at another, simply “Roger, Roger” in that famous Darryl Strawberry chant (which was, incidentally, birthed in Boston.)
When asked about Patriots fans chanting “Where’s Roger?” during the game, tight end Martellus Bennett first feigned innocence.
“Who’s Roger?” Bennett responded to reporters.
After being told the subject was Goodell, Bennett weighed in with a great analogy.
“Yeah, where is he?” Bennett said. “He’s like Waldo right now. He doesn’t want to come here. We don’t know where he’s at.”
Robert Kraft alluded to the obvious after the win, telling the crowd, “for a number of reasons, all of you in this stadium understand how big this win was.”
So now everyone gets to reconvene in Houston in two weeks—no avoiding that for Roger Goodell. And there’s a better-than-even chance that Goodell will have to introduce Kraft, and hand him the Lombardi Trophy. And even then that might not be the end of it. If tradition holds, the next morning Goodell will present the Super Bowl MVP award to whoever wins it, and there’s a damn good chance that’ll require a handshake with Tom Brady.