Patriots Fans Welcome NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell To Gillette Stadium With Boos
Patriots fans at Thursday night's season opener against the Chiefs were "worked up" by the fact NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was making his first regular-season appearance at Gillette Stadium since Deflategate and booed him when he "came out of the visitors’ tunnel before the game," according to Adam Kurkjian of the BOSTON HERALD. Goodell spent "several minutes near the end zone and went back in" as Patriots QB Tom Brady "came out for warmups" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/8). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy notes Goodell was seen in the "underbelly of Gillette" by TV cameras 90 minutes before kickoff. He came out of the tunnel at 7:32pm ET and talked with Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt. Goodell "chatted for a few more moments, posed for a few photos, then disappeared back into the tunnel." He was on the field for "approximately 13 minutes." Patriots Owner Robert Kraft "walked out of the tunnel at the other end" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/8). In N.Y., Ken Belson notes Gillette Stadium was "only half full" when Goodell came out, but fans "booed heartily and yelled, 'Rah-ja.'" Many of them "waved their free towels" from Barstool Sports that featured a picture of Goodell wearing a clown's nose. Goodell during the game "sat in a suite apart from Kraft’s," and the Patriots "chose not to show Goodell on the stadium video screen." Thousands in the crowd "wore aqua T-shirts" with the Goodell clown image (N.Y. TIMES, 9/8). Barstool Sports tweeted of its T-shirt giveaway: "#OperationClownFace was a complete success" (TWITTER.com, 9/7).
BREWING FOR A LONG TIME: NBC's Dan Patrick during the pregame coverage noted the Gillette Stadium crowd was booing loudly when the Chiefs “walked onto the field.” He retracted that moments later, saying, “I thought that the Kansas City Chiefs as a team were taking the field. Judging by the noise it was something a little different, and it’s the commissioner, Roger Goodell. ... The fans are letting him know this is their welcome to him” ("Football Night In America," NBC, 9/7). Boston-based WBZ-FM's Toucher & Rich's Twitter feed wrote NBC "addressed that the crowd is booing Roger Goodell as he walks on the field. They're not shying away from it" (TWITTER.com, 9/8). ESPN's Jemele Hill prior to the game said as “excited as Patriots fans are to open the season ... as defending Super Bowl champions, it’s arguable they may be more excited to boo Roger Goodell.” ESPN's Michael Smith: "If you are a Patriots fan, you have no reason to turn down the volume on the booing for Roger Goodell. Every time you have an opportunity, you need to remind how foolish that entire Deflategate saga in hindsight (was)” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 9/7).
GETTING IT OVER WITH: ESPN’s Mike Reiss said the fans let Goodell "have it” Thursday night, and it was important to the fans that they "saw him out there" on the field. It also was important for Goodell "to be out here." He then quickly "got out and let the game take center stage.” ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said Goodell “basically tried to pretend it wasn’t happening." However, this "clearly was at least a little different” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 9/8). The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke prior to the game said, "Good for Goodell showing up, good for him for being accountable.” The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Woody Paige said Goodell “should embrace” the booing. Paige: "Why not just be a part of it? Wear the clown the nose for a few minutes.” But the Washington Post’s Kevin Blackistone said Goodell “has no one to blame for this spectacle other than himself." Blackistone: "He had a chance to show up in 2015 and this wouldn’t be a story two years later, but he didn’t do that” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/7). The Boston Police Department prior to the game tweeted, "#BPDSafetyTip: If driving to Foxboro for tonight's @Patriots game, please know that texting-n-driving go together like Brady-n-Goodell." Parody account Tupac Bayless: "Goodell is hated in Boston more than the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980's."