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Reimer: In defense of the Patriots fans who took a picture with Roger Goodell

Alex Reimer
August 11, 2017 - 11:00 am

Regular people like taking pictures with famous people. Restaurant owners across the country plaster their walls with photographs of celebrities who have stopped in, regardless of whether they’re on the A- or D-list. Social media feeds are also filled with celebrity sightings, because it carries an illusion of grandeur –– or so we think. 

Wow, my ex is eating at the same restaurant as ‘that guy’ from ‘that show’ I’ve seen a couple of times. What a high-roller!”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been public enemy No. 1 in New England for the last two-and-a-half years. In January 2015, the league launched its witch hunt Deflategate investigation, which culminated in Tom Brady getting suspended four games for playing with slightly underinflated footballs. Two appeals and court hearings later, Brady finally served his ban last season. 

The Patriots went 3-1 in his absence and wound up winning the Super Bowl. Brady was awarded the MVP, after leading the Patriots on a historic 25-point comeback victory against the Falcons. Goodell presented the Lombardi Trophy to owner Robert Kraft that Sunday night and the MVP trophy to Brady the following morning. Kraft made a subtle reference to the Deflategate saga during his acceptance speech, saying the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl win was “unequivocally the sweetest.”

Kraft admits he’ll always remember the way his quarterback was treated during the most overblown sports scandal ever. “I don’t hold grudges but I never forget,” he told the New York Post in June. “Sometimes people mess up when they’re doing their jobs, but in most organizations people make bad decisions. I’m about the present and the future.”

Despite those hard feelings, Kraft maintains a business relationship with the commissioner. They stroll with each other in Sun Valley and collaborate on a number of initiatives. On Thursday, Kraft welcomed Goodell to Gillette Stadium for the first preseason game, roughly one month before he’s slated to attend the season opener Sept. 7. Curiously, the Kraft Sports Production team didn’t mention Goodell’s presence during the telecast, leading one to believe the Patriots wanted to keep the commish’s presence on the down-low. 

But the NFL had other plans. The league’s PR maven, Brian McCarthy, tweeted out a picture of Goodell posing with three alleged Patriots fans. All of them were sporting Patriots garb, and the person on the left was even wearing a Brady jersey.

Blasphemy. 

Turtleboy Sports identified the three fans, who come across as starstruck goobers. Or, in other words, they acted like most of us would. 

In an interview Friday with OMF, Josh Bisson, who was in the middle of the picture, said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy asked if they wanted a picture with the commissioner. "They wanted to use us as props I feel like to say, ‘Hey, look at New England Patriots fans welcoming back (Goodell),'” he explained.

Bisson went on to defend his actions, saying he thinks most people would've taken McCarthy up on the offer. He's absolutely right. 

Let’s not kid ourselves: it would be startling to see Goodell in public. Perhaps you would hold strong under this hypothetical scenario, and yell obscenities at the man. But that puts you in the minority. The majority of people, especially those who rightfully view sports as entertainment and not life-or-death, would probably greet him warmly. And maybe, just maybe, you would want to take a picture. Think of all the “likes” and comments you would receive on your Instagram and Facebook.

This isn’t about whether Patriots fans should get over Deflategate. It’s about the human condition. People take pictures with O.J. Simpson, for Christ’s sake.

We are attracted to celebrity, and Goodell is one of the most famous sports figures of our time. Three doofuses from New Hampshire saw him, and with the likely aid of alcohol, agreed to take a picture with them. It’s not more complicated than that.

Author's note: this post has been updated to include Josh Bisson's interview with OMF. 

Josh Bisson, one of the three Patriots fans from last night's photo with Roger Goodell calls in to describe how he and his friends were setup by the NFL PR.

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