We all knew this was coming, right? The inevitable happens this week as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell must be in the same place at the same time as the New England Patriots.

That’s what happens when the Patriots are representing the AFC in the Super Bowl for the first time since the Deflategate trainwreck.

Goodell has not been seen at Gillette Stadium since the Deflategate decision was handed down, but if we’re to believe him, there’s nothing stopping him from making an appearance in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Rather, he just hasn’t been invited.

At least, that was what he tried to pass off as true during his annual “State of the League” press conference during Super Bowl Week on Wednesday afternoon.

The reality is that Goodell has taken every opportunity possible to avoid heading to Gillette Stadium for a game. Instead of taking in the AFC Championship Game, Goodell was in Atlanta for the Falcons-Packers matchup. Instead of being in Foxboro the week before he buddied up to Jerry Jones in Dallas.

You get the picture – wherever the Patriots were, Goodell was nowhere to be found.

On Wednesday, the commissioner also said that there is no awkwardness between him and the Patriots organization. It was all part of his job after all.

“I would tell you that it isn’t awkward at all for me,” Goodell said, via NJ.com. “We have a job to do. We do our job if there is a violation … We came to a conclusion that was supported by the facts and the courts.”

That was the second time Goodell mentioned the court battle between himself, Tom Brady and the Patriots. He opened up answering a question about Deflategate and tried to deflect past it with an answer about the issue already being litigated.

“No, we had a violation. We went through a process. We applied the discipline in accordance with our process,” Goodell said the George R. Brown Convention Center. “It was litigated as you know, extensively. It was validated by the second court of appeals. We are moving on from that. It is part of our history, but it is something with the process, the decision and we are focusing on the game now.”

While Goodell is certainly trying hard to focus on Super Bowl LI and the weekend to come, there’s no escaping the awkwardness that surrounds his relationship with the Patriots organization. That was highlighted by his answering of questions about said relationship with members of the Kraft family right in front of him.

It still is a thorny relationship, especially after Goodell claimed he’d be happy to return to Foxboro should he be invited back.

Well, that’s not exactly how Jonathan Kraft and the Patriots ownership group remember those kinds of visits happening in the past either.

It’s safe to say that Goodell and the Patriots have a long way to go to be in the same room, let alone on the same page as one another anytime soon. Not even a Super Bowl week can heal this divide.


About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a contributor to The Comeback as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10. He also is a member of the FWAA and has been covering college sports since 2011. Andy is an avid soccer fan and runs the Celtic FC site The Celtic Bhoys. If he's not writing about sports, you can find him enjoying them in front of the TV with a good beer!

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