NFL Commissioner Roger “The Ginger Hammer” Goodell has spawned a lot of awkward moments over the last two seasons, many of them coming after 11:17 last night. As my New England Patriots pulled off a most improbable slingshot performance to erase a 25-point deficit in the latter part of the third quarter to win Super Bowl 51 in record fashion, Goodell went from certain euphoria to butt-tightening angst. Once again, he was going to have to mount the international stage and present accolades and acclaim on his new arch-enemies.
It started with the “presentation” of the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who still has several of Goodell’s disciplinary knives sticking out of the back of his Armani suit. Actually it started on Wednesday, when Goodell lied (what he does best) to a reporter who asked him about the validity of Brady’s 4-game suspension for his alleged role in deflating footballs. During Goodell’s prevarication that the courts had agreed on the evidence (they didn’t), the Krafts, who had been sitting on the front row of the press conference, got up and walked out. The Emperor has no facts.
As Goodell tried to give his congratulation speech during the presentation on the victor’s podium, he was drowned out by thundering boos from the crowd. This was particularly awkward as he did his best Jakob the Liar, telling Kraft how “proud” he was of the team’s accomplishments in winning a record 5th championship. Who writes this crap for him? Robert Kraft’s dubious look spoke volumes of what he thought of the NFL’s errand boy and his phony platitudes.
The short handshake that ensued was a testament to one thing; the class of Robert Kraft. Even more uncomfortable was the quickie handshake with Jonathan Kraft, who glowered at Goodell like a Doberman Pinscher facing a burglar in the darkened living room. While Goodell was inaudible above the crowd’s roared displeasure, I swear you could hear Jonathan Kraft’s jaw muscles clenching from the skybox seats. And why not – the Emperor has no class.
Goodell looked like he wanted to be anywhere else, spending most of his time on the dais chatting with Michael Strahan, back to the cameras. He also had to acknowledge Tom Brady, an encounter which might have gone smoother were it between Lee Harvey Oswald and those grieving Kennedy boys. Brady was classy, but visibly frosty.
I would love to know what King Roger said to Bill Belichick, as he beat a hasty retreat off the stage. I doubt if it was an apology for being a first-class tool, but the length of their whispered clasp indicated it was something of substance. Maybe the Falcons filed a league grievance against Belichick for unfair coaching advantages, and the Commish was readying another round of illicit punishments. It must be a hell of a job having to penalize the Patriots all the time to try and level the field for the other thirty-one teams.
Since the NFL is giving out so many awards this week, I’d like to nominate Monday morning’s presentation of the Super Bowl MVP award as the Most Awkward Moment in NFL history. Yes, it beats all those insipid broadcasting snafus when Tony Kornheiser was in the booth, and it even tops Broadway Joe’s “I wanna kiss you” moment with Susie Kolber.
This presentation by Goodell to Tom “Generally Aware” Brady was so totally cockeyed it was actually painful to watch (go ahead, you can still find it on YouTube and other sites).
The normally California-cool Brady looked uncomfortable as Goodell told him to “come get your trophy” as he might have said it to a 12-year old Punt, Pass & Kick winner named Tommy…the presentation could not have been more ridiculous, with both men acting like they didn’t want to handle the trophy and risk exchanging DNA.
This juggling act was accompanied by a photo op that reminded me of the movie poster for the dismal Ellen DeGeneres’ flop “Mr. Wrong” …which we now get because ALL the misters are wrong where Ellen’s concerned. Anyway, it was crystal clear there’s no way Roger and Brady are ever patching anything up. Just give me the damned silverware I earned and I’m outta here. No handshake. The Emperor has no clues.
Anyway, more for us diehard, faithful Patriots fans to laugh about and celebrate. Personally, I’m glad they made the Lombardi Trophy in the shape of a big suppository, because Brady and the Patriots just shoved it where it richly deserves to be.
Image: Screen grab; http://www.onenewspage.com/video/20170206/6794547/Roger-Goodell-hands-Tom-Brady-the-Super-Bowl.htm