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Roger Goodell on avoiding Patriots: ‘If I’m invited back to Foxboro, I’ll come’

Roger Goodell held his annual Super Bowl Week press conference in Houston on Wednesday. Not surprisingly, part of the Q&A revolved around his perceptively fractured relationship with the New England Patriots, who of course face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Super Bowl LI.

The NFL commissioner once again tried to bury the Deflategate drama for good, saying the league has “moved on” from the years-long legal entanglement. Goodell was asked if he felt he received poor counsel before deciding to punish the Patriots and Tom Brady.

“No, we had a violation. We went through a process. We applied the discipline in accordance with our process,” Goodell said, via “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.”

It didn’t go unnoticed when Goodell attended the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome, where he had just been a week prior, instead of visiting Gillette Stadium for the AFC Championship Game. The commissioner hasn’t been to the Patriots’ home stadium since the 2014 AFC Championship Game, where Deflategate was spawned.

The NFL attempted to downplay any significance to the Goodell’s absence, saying at the time that the focus should be on the game. Goodell later echoed those same sentiments before insisting it would be “an honor” to hand the Lombardi Trophy to Brady, in spite of any lingering awkwardness.

“I would tell you that it isn’t awkward at all for me,” Goodell reiterated on Wednesday. “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.”

When asked if he ever intends to return to Gillette Stadium, Goodell — who is mostly considered a persona non grata in the region — seemed to put the onus on the Patriots organization to make it happen.

“If I’m invited back to Foxboro,” Goodell said. “I’ll come.”