Patriots Fans Take Solace in Universal Hatred of Roger Goodell
MetLife Stadium is about ten miles outside of New York City in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Going out there from Manhattan is essentially the equivalent of following Moses around the desert for 40 years looking for the Promised Land. Nothing really ever comes up.
To get to a MetLife function for work a few weeks back, I did what any self-respecting female would do. I channeled my inner 16 Candles Molly Ringwald to grin and bare riding the bus.
There were a few other people on the platform, one of them was an older woman, dressed in the New Yorker uniform of all black. She also had on a Giants hat. I could have just acted like I knew where I was going, but I have a compulsive desire to chit chat with, and subsequently irritate, strangers.
Especially about football.
It turned out she was heading to the stadium for a special Giants season ticket holder practice. If there is anything worse than watching OBJ practice, it’s watching OBJ practice with a horde of Giants season ticket holders.
When is was my turn, did I tell her that I’m covering a Jets media event and leave it at that? Absolutely not. I explained that I was going out to the stadium for a Jets media event and that I am not, by any means, a Jets fan. I’m a born and raised Masshole. A diehard Pats fan.
As it would turn out, the Patriots are the only team that she dislikes as much as the Jets. She had a few jabs about how Brady should stick to Ugg modeling to which I asked her how last season’s Wild Card game against the Packers worked out for the Giants.
It was all in good fun. One of my favorite parts about living in a city that is not Boston is heckling other sports fans. After the initial awkwardness, we both realized that as much as we dislike each other’s respective teams, we dislike something – or rather someone – else even more: Roger Goodell.
I bet you are sick of hearing Patriots fans bitch about Goodell and his “unfair practices.” Well, the score is even because I’m sick of bitching about him.
The season opener is upon us, and the subtext of that story is that Goodell is showing his face at Gillette Stadium for the first time in over two years. (I’m not counting that pathetic sneak in during the first preseason game. I’m also going to guarantee you that there won’t be any photo opportunities with “Pats fans”.)
Pats fans are still seething, but I’m a dreamer and like to think that TB12 feels that he might have lost the battle, but won the war.
TB12 had the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time and was named MVP. Add those two things to the fact that it was done during a season in which Brady also served a four game suspension. Incredible.
I was in a fantasy draft in Boston over Labor Day weekend and got to talking to some of the members in the league about Goodell and what they think of him. Their thoughts echoed mine and just about most Pats fans I know. We can’t wait for the long lasting round of boos that will greet Goodell in Foxborough Thursday night, but, for the most part take comfort in Brady’s revenge. No longer are we losing sleep over Deflategate but there are still things that make us livid.
The first is that we missed out on watching Brady play for four games. Those are four games that TB12 was supposed to star in that we aren’t going to get back. While Pats fans, myself included, don’t want to admit this, one day Brady will hang up his helmet as the G.O.A.T and we will never see him throw another professional pass. We should have been treated to four more games of his magical career than we were able. Fucking depressing.
The second is the way Goodell manages the league and his willy-nilly punishments that go whichever way the breeze is blowing. This is partially because there is usually questionable evidence, substance, or practice that lead to any given suspension. The other part of that is because the team owners are the ones that put Goodell in this position of power and the union agreed to give him that power.
Ezekiel Elliott is just the latest example. Cowboy fans – and ownership – claim the punishment is too harsh for the amount of evidence, and suspicious lack of due process by keeping the only league person who spoke to his accuser out of the room when it was time to render a decision. It’s these same types of statements that were coming out of New England when news of Brady’s four game suspension broke 16 months ago.
It is refreshing to hear a non-New Englander say similar things about Goodell’s mismanagement of the NFL and his inconsistency of rule enforcement. Of course, my new Giants acquaintance did take a few cracks about Deflategate, but the undertone was that Goodell should be equally hated by every NFL fan. She might not have been a Brady supporter, but there is something to be said for keeping rule enforcement equal across the board, which Goodell has failed miserably in doing.
My brother, a Ravens fan, thinks that he could do a better job managing the NFL for a fraction of the price. (No offense to my brother, but I happen to think an armadillo could run the league better than Goodell.) My uncle, a diehard Pats fan, and I have matching Goodell clown shirts from Barstool Sports. A close friend from California called Goodell “a snake oil salesman.” There isn’t a single NFL fan that I’ve encountered who thinks Goodell is actually doing a good job, because to be doing a good job you have to be doing more than just cherry picking which rules you are going to enforce.
Of course, the owners can cherry pick when they want to throw some shade at Goodell. That’s the one perk to being his boss. On February 1, 2017, Robert Kraft spoke to the media about Goodell being welcomed at Gillette Stadium.
“I’ve talked to a lot of fans who would love to welcome Roger back to Gillette Stadium,” Kraft said. “If we are fortunate enough to win on Sunday, the kickoff of the NFL season would present the perfect opportunity.”
When the bus pulled up to MetLife, there were a few groundspeople on golf carts and cars parked over by the practice field. It was by no means as lively as it would be on a game day. A few errant raindrops fall, and the Giants fan bids her farewell to go to the practice.
I couldn’t help but take a moment and imagine myself at Gillette Stadium for the home opener, being with the 66,829 other Patriots fans that are going to be booing Goodell to the high heavens and singing Tom Brady’s praise. I can tell you that as a Pats fan, it feels damn good to know that as hard as Goodell tried to keep Brady down, that fifth banner is still going up on Thursday night.