Anderson: Can we finally put this Patriots-Goodell clown show to bed?

Ty Anderson
September 08, 2017 - 6:09 am

FOXBORO -- Thursday night was supposed to be special.

After what was the absolute greatest Super Bowl comeback in NFL history, the Patriots were unveiling their fifth Super Bowl banner, officially joining football immortality with the Steelers, Cowboys, and 49ers as the fourth of the elite of the elite football franchises.

But to nearly 70,000 in attendance, allegedly showing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell up seemed to be more important than celebrating the significance of what the Patriots accomplished not only last year, but over the course of an unparalleled 16-year run that’s left the competition in the dust and without an answer to their brilliance.

Instead of focusing on that, which the Patriots did their best to try and show off during their pregame production, and something that at one point in this franchise’s discordant history seemed like a nonsensical fantasy daydreamed during halftime of the utter mediocrity in between Super Bowl asskickings, Gillette fixated themselves on Goodell’s cowardice.

Thursday was the night that Patriots fans, who have been waiting for Goodell to reappear in Foxboro after obviously dodging visits to town since the start of the bitter feud known as Deflategate, finally got to shove it back in Goodell’s face. And did they ever, wearing ugly turquoise shirts and towels featuring an admittedly forever funny Barstool Sports cartoon of Goodell as a clown (something that Goodell reportedly hates), and chanting his name in a taunting, singsong tune from the moment he finally dared to show his face at Gillette Stadium.

Who. Possibly. Cares.

Instead of appreciating the moment in front of them, it fully seemed as if this obsession with what Goodell was doing, where he was doing, and who he was doing it with turned the night into an absolute sideshow, and ultimately seemed to take away from the magic of a night that should have been about literally anything else but him.

To earn their latest title, the Pats had to erase a 25-point deficit in the second half, and play legitimately perfect football along the way. And against every statistical percentage rooted in common sense, they did just that. That comeback, which was capped by an overtime end-to-end drive, remains the purest form of football porn one can watch, and it was the ultimate escape of what at the time had become an entirely too long saga centered around deflated footballs, bruised egos, and the at times bizarre persecution complex of the fanbase of the most successful franchise in modern NFL history.

But the truth is that the crowd never had more energy than when they got the chance to finally boo Goodell during his brief pregame appearance on the field. It was then that they were engaged and foaming at the mouth, even with the stadium less than half full. And that enthusiasm simply never returned -- be it because they already got what they came for after seeing a banner go up and booing the bad man, because they were focused on if he had indeed left the building before the game, which was widely speculated to be his plan, or just because the red section was already in midseason form (would it kill you guys to stay in your seats for more than one half?) -- when it actually mattered in what was one of the most flatlining home losses in recent memory.

This whole adventure felt like a needless rewind on the part of a fanbase that shouldn't continue to seek closure.

The obsession with the drama and revenge of Deflategate, which began two and a half years ago, is getting ready to start preschool. It’s walking around like an overtired lunatic, talking louder than it ever did before, and frankly still won’t leave you alone no matter what method of avoidance you try. I guess in some ways it’s the perfect toddler.

But it’s simply no longer relevant to the Patriots or their fans.

The Patriots got their revenge with their Super Bowl win over the Seahawks. Goodell then got his pound of flesh through a lengthy court process and a four-game ban for Tom Brady, but that ended with yet another Super Bowl victory, and with Brady playing at the best level of his career, likely a direct result of having more energy in Week 21 of the NFL season than he would have without the suspension. It all ended with Goodell once again handing the Vince Lombardi Trophy to a smiling, victorious Brady.

The rivalry was officially over -- for the second time, mind you -- then. 

And this is not a defense of the commissioner.

Goodell very much remains a shapeshifting, hollow-bodied ghoul. He is a real life Harry Potter Dementor. He’s Darth Vader in Rogue One. He is the alternate ending to Get Out. He vacations in the Upside Down and is probably close friends with natural disasters. 

Nobody can deny this, especially when you consider the fact that he makes over $30 million per season when the overall NFL product has never been worse. Or that the league’s number of off-field issues -- you know, real issues such as a rampant domestic violence problem and not these ‘issues’ of fans pretending to be outraged that players take social stands and kneel for the National Anthem while they watch that same National Anthem while most definitely seated on their couch at home -- have without question jumped to all-time highs under his watch, which was apparently enough for everyone to agree to give him another long-term extension on his current job. When asked about Colin Kaepernick essentially getting blackballed out of football for his beliefs, Goodell opted to let us know that he’s not a football expert and didn’t want to make a judgement on Kaepernick as an NFL player. He apparently saves his football expertise for when he wants to let us know that concussions are not a threat.

And of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the case for Goodell being terrible and thoroughly unqualified for the job he holds (he’s the worst commissioner in American sports), as we all know and live as fans. And it is funny that Goodell, a 58-year-old grown man worth nine figures, can’t laugh at himself, I’ll admit.

But are we really going to kid ourselves into thinking that a stadium full of people that decked themselves out head-to-toe in NFL merchandise and paid three times face value for their tickets, were actually having the last laugh against Goodell’s NFL? Or that this somehow now makes every Patriots diehard that swears by their conspiracy theory and Emperor Goodell even?

Who are we clowning?