Roger Goodell says he's actually planning to attend the Patriots' home opener

After staying away from Gillette Stadium for two years, it looks like Roger Goodell is finally ready to make his return. 

During his press conference at the NFL’s annual league meeting on Tuesday, the NFL commissioner was asked point blank if he’d be in New England for the the Patriots’ regular season opener, which is scheduled for Sept. 7. 

Goodell didn’t hesitate with his answer and quickly offered up eight words that Patriots fans probably didn’t expect to hear. 

“I plan to be at the kickoff game,” the commissioner said. 

Goodell hasn’t attend a game at Gillette since January 2015 when Deflategate started. In May 2015, Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was handed down for the first time, and Goodell immediately became a villain in the Boston area. Since then, Goodell hasn’t been seen at at Patriots’ home game. 

After attending the Falcons’ divisional playoff game in January, most fans thought for sure that Goodell would show up for the AFC title game in New England the next week. Instead, Goodell was in Atlanta, where he attended a Falcons game for the second straight week. 

When Goodell didn’t show up for the AFC title game, fans in New England felt that he was purposely avoiding Gillette Stadium because he was actually afraid to step foot in the Patriots’ stadium. 

During an interview in February, Rob Gronkowski added some spice to the story by saying that Goodell was hated so much in New England that he wouldn’t “even be able to land at the airport.”

“He couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxborough if he landed in Boston,” Gronk said. 

It’s not just Patriots fans either; the team and the coaches also don’t seem to like Goodell very much. After New England’s win in the Super Bowl, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia got off the plane in Boston wearing a T-shirt that showed Goodell in a clown nose, something that upset the commissioner

Let’s also not forget the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick seemed to have a good laugh while Goodell got booed following the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons in the Super Bowl. 

During his Super Bowl LI press conference, Goodell was actually asked if he was purposely avoiding Gillette Stadium because it would be awkward for him to attend a game. 

“I would tell you that it is not awkward at all for me,” Goodell said. “I was in Boston two seasons ago for two consecutive playoff games, the same way I was in Atlanta this year.  So that happens.  From our standpoint, this is just about making sure that we take care of business and do it the way that is right to uphold the integrity of our teams and our rules for all 32 teams. If I am invited back to Foxborough, I will come.” 

That invite actually came in February from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and it looks like Goodell has chosen to take him up on that offer. If Goodell doesn’t show for the Patriots’ regular season opener, he might as well just forget about attending a game at Gillette ever again. 

Anyway, here’s a list of teams that Patriots might play in their opener. The official opponent won’t be known until the regular season schedule comes out in an announcement that’s tentatively scheduled to take place during the week of April 17-21

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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