Roger Goodell Makes Surprise Visit To Gillette For Patriots Preseason Game
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was a "surprise visitor" to Patriots Owner Robert Kraft's box at Gillette Stadium for Thursday's preseason opener against the Jaguars, according to Jim McBride of the BOSTON GLOBE. Goodell had been "touring several training camps this season, was in the area, and decided to catch the game." It was Goodell's "first trip to Gillette since the AFC Championship game" in '15, the postseason that "spawned Deflategate." The NFL "confirmed Goodell is still planning on being in Foxborough for the season opener Sept. 7" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/11). ESPN.com's Mike Reiss noted Goodell "also visited" with Jaguars Owner Shad Khan and "departed the stadium before halftime" (ESPN.com, 8/10). CSNNE.com's DJ Bean wrote Goodell's absence from Gillette had become an "increasingly popular topic, particularly as he opted to go to Atlanta for a second time last postseason rather than revisiting New England and face the music for Deflategate" (CSNNE.com, 8/10).
NICE TRY: In Boston, Karen Guregian writes "sneaking in ... last night unannounced" was a "pretty slick" move by Goodell. However, Patriots fans "will be game ready" when he returns next month for the season opener. Guregian: "Unlike last night, you'll hear them. You'll know exactly how they feel about you. You will feel their wrath over Deflategate." While it may have been "wise trying to diffuse the situation beforehand, it's hard to believe you won't be in for a rude reception on Opening Night" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/11). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Josh Alper wrote the likely "hostile reaction to his presence from the crowd" next month likely will not "be diminished by Thursday's unadvertised visit" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/10). In DC, Des Bieler writes there is "little doubt" Goodell "will still be booed heavily" on Opening Night. But Thursday's visit "was another step toward moving on." Bieler: "It could turn out to have been a savvy move if it takes some of the drama away from his Week 1 return" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/11). NBC's Mike Florio said it was "very smart" for Goodell to attend the game, as it "takes a little sting out of what's going to happen ... when he's back there again for the regular-season opener." Florio: "It is still probably going to be ugly at times ... but it won't be as bad as it could have been because he made it back there last night” (“PFT,” NBCSN, 8/11).
FLYING THE FRIENDLY SKIES: Patriots President Jonathan Kraft prior to Thursday's game talked to WBZ-FM about the two planes the team recently bought and said that since domestic airlines have been "going away from the larger ones, the Pats wanted to have access to 'wide-bodied' carriers." Kraft "referenced the large number of team personnel that travels for games, and that having a second plane helps maximize time in case there is a technical issues with one." He noted that having the two planes can "help with players' recovery" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/11). ESPN's Jalen Rose said, "This is the wave of the future because owners are now making more money." ESPN's David Jacoby: "The economics of this is they will actually save money from chartering planes. It's just a sound, strategic move" ("Jalen & Jacoby," ESPN2, 8/9).