Before this week, it had been over two years since anyone had publicly seen Roger Goodell in the Boston area, but that drought finally ended Wednesday when the NFL commissioner was spotted at Boston’s Logan Airport.
A camera crew for WBZ-TV, the CBS afilliate in Boston, caught Goodell as he was exiting the international boarding area following a trip to Israel.
The reason this is notable is because Goodell basically hasn’t been seen in the Boston area since January 2015, when he unofficially became the most hated man in New England thanks to Deflategate. That whole controversy started when the Colts accused the Patriots of using deflated footballs during the AFC Championship Game, a game that the Patriots won 45-7.
Goodell hasn’t attend a game at Gillette Stadium since then, and over the past two years, the animosity toward Goodell has only grown in New England. In May 2015, when Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension , Goodell immediately became even more of a villain in the Boston area.
Fans in New England eventually became convinced that Goodell was ducking every chance he had to visit Gillette, especially after he skipped out on a chance to attend the AFC title game in January. Instead of going to the Steelers-Patriots game, Goodell went to Atlanta, where he watched the Falcons play for the second week in a row.
Things got so bad at one point that Rob Gronkowski said , even if he wanted to go to a game.
“To tell you the truth, I really don’t think so,” Gronkowski said when asked in February if the commissioner would be welcomed to Gillette. “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, [Goodell] 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.”
The good news for Goodell is that he was able to land in the airport Wednesday without being carried out by the fans. Ironically, the only reason Goodell landed at the airport is because he had been attending an event to support Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Now that Goodell’s been to Boston, the next step is for him to actually attend a Patriots’ game, which he actually plans on doing in September. Goodell saidthe NFL’s regular-season opener on Sept. 7