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Roger Goodell reminds Patriots fans he’ll never answer their questions

01.25.17 at 5:14 pm ET
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Roger Goodell will never answer Patriots fans' questions. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

Roger Goodell will never answer Patriots fans’ questions. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

Even though Roger Goodell says he’s available to the media “almost every day,” he seldom speaks with the press. That’s why there’s always so much anticipation leading up to his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference. Every year, we fool ourselves into thinking the commissioner will answer for his misdeeds. And then, after he spends his time deflecting questions of substance, we walk away disappointed. It’s impossible to trip him up.

In an interview with Colin Cowherd Wednesday, Goodell gave everybody a preview of what to expect in Houston. Cowherd brought up a number of pertinent topics, including Goodell’s two-year absence from Gillette Stadium and his feelings on handing the Super Bowl trophy to Tom Brady. But the commish danced around them with aplomb.

When Goodell was asked whether he’s comfortable with fans loathing him in New England, he circled back to his favorite four words: Integrity. Of. The. Game.

“Well, listen, the fans are going to feel what they want,” he said. “We have, obviously, 32 sets of fans, national fans that want to make sure we’re doing things that are upholding the integrity of the game at all times. We think this is a great opportunity to see the two best teams in football playing on Sunday in the Super Bowl. The Patriots have earned it. The Falcons have earned it. And we’re thrilled. We think this is one of the great mathcups and should be one of the great games.”

Over the last two years, Goodell has often cited his apparent quest to “uphold the integrity of the game” as his reasoning for besmirching Tom Brady’s reputation over slightly deflated footballs. The phrase will likely make an appearance during his remarks next week, and he’ll be able to get away with it, too. Ever since Rachel Nichols peppered Goodell three years ago about league’s butchering of the Ray Rice investigation, he’s shied away from taking follow up questions.

On Wednesday, Cowherd was allowed to ask follow ups. But it didn’t do him any good. With a straight face, Goodell told him the quality of Thursday Night Football is superior to other games. The man is a better liar than Kellyanne Conway.

In a fleeting moment of pseudo-candor, Goodell acknowledged it would be a distraction if he were to attend a game at Gillette Stadium. He said, in his own roundabout way, that’s the reason why he’s avoided coming to Foxboro since Deflategate started.

“Listen, we had two great games,” he said. “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.”

Of course, taking focus away from the players didn’t concern Goodell when he was going after Brady for nearly 18 months. But when Goodell isn’t lying, he’s usually being hypocritical. (Oh, and Goodell is likely lying there, too. The man who doesn’t let his staff members eat pizza before he has the first slice probably wants to avoid hearing nearly 60,000 Patriots fans boo him.)

At his core, Goodell is a cyborg with an inhuman ability to never veer off message. He can’t even bring himself to say it would be a little uncomfortable handing over the Lombardi Trophy to Brady.

“Not for a second,” Goodell said. “This is one of the great opportunities we have. Two dominant teams playing in the Super Bowl. The Patriots and Falcons have both earned the opportunity to be there. They deserve it and whoever wins that championship is going to have to earn it because these are great teams. I am going to be thrilled.”

You can ask Goodell the questions, but in return, you’ll only get corporate speak. His interview with Cowherd is a timely reminder of that.

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