Call it manifest destiny. From the moment NFL commissioner Roger Goodell used his executive powers to suspend Patriots QB Tom Brady the first four games of the 2016 season, there was only one way the season could end, with Goodell having to suck up his pride, handing over the Lombardi Trophy to Brady.
With one decision, Goodell ignited a fire in Brady unlike anything we’ve ever seen. He’s played and won like a man possessed since returning to game action in Week 5, and nothing is going to stop him from having his special encounter with Goodell on the field at NRG Stadium following Super Bowl LI.
To make matters worse, Goodell has gone to extreme lengths to avoid the Patriots at every turn, not showing up at Gillette Stadium one time all season.
Once it came time for the playoffs, Goodell chose Atlanta for the Divisional Round, and then went back to Atlanta the following week for the NFC Championship.
He provided the following rationalization for his actions to Colin Cowherd:
“Listen, we had two great games. I was in Boston two years ago for the divisional and championship games. I try to get to as many stadiums as I can. But, you know we [had] two great games and you have to choose. Frankly, the focus should be on the players, the coaches and the great game, and that is where it was this weekend, and the way it should be.”
Here’s the bottom line. Godell can do whatever he wants, but he’s made it abundantly clear all season and throughout the postseason he has no interest in seeing the Patriots and facing Brady in person. (To be fair, Patriots fans would go to town ruthlessly tormenting Goodell if he ever step foot in Foxboro this season, but that’s beside the point).
As for his desire for the focus to be on the players and not him, Goodell created this mess and when you’re playing hide-and-seek with an entire organization it’s going to be a headline story, which is exactly what has happened.
But Goodell can’t hide anymore, and when those final seconds tick off the clock in Houston and Brady wins his record fifth Super Bowl, all eyes will turn to that moment when Goodell is forced to face his arch-nemesis.
Unless Goodell reaches deep into his bag of tricks and avoids Brady yet again. Now wouldn’t that be something!