Roger Goodell ruins everyone's fun, shows up at Gillette Stadium for preseason opener

Roger Goodell ruins everyone's fun, shows up at Gillette Stadium for preseason opener

FOXBORO -- Roger Goodell outsmarted thousands of Patriots fans. That’s got to be the surprise of the century and, quite frankly, a tough one to swallow. 

JAGUARS 31, PATRIOTS 24

The NFL commissioner was in attendance for the Patriots’ preseason-opener against the Jaguars Thursday, ensuring that the regular-season opener will not mark his first time back at Gillette Stadium since the 2015 AFC Championship Game, which was the beginning of the Deflategate saga. 

Goodell’s absence from Gillette became an increasingly popular topic, particularly as he opted to go to Atlanta for a second time last postseason rather than revisiting New England and face the music for Deflategate. 

The Boston Globe's Ben Volin tweeted a grainy picture of The Commish sitting with Patriots owner Robert Kraft Thursday night.

Here's a much better photo tweeted by NFL PR guy Brian McCarthy, who says Goodell will be back for the regular-season opener against the Chiefs Sept. 7 at Gillette.

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy ordered 30,000 towels featuring Barstool’s drawing of Goodell with a clown nose, an image that was popularized in tee shirt form after Pats defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was spotted wearing one. Barstool intended to store the towels near Gillette and hand them out ahead at the season opener. 

It is unclear whether the towel plan will still go down. Still, Goodell ruins everything.

Hightower happy to be back in New England following free agency

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Hightower happy to be back in New England following free agency

FOXBORO -- Dont'a Hightower met with reporters to talk football on Wednesday morning at Gillette Stadium, the first time he had done so since signing an extension with the Patriots back in March.

About five months later, no regrets.

"It’s good. I’m glad I didn’t have to relocate," Hightower said with a smile. "Stressful, but glad it’s over with. Glad I’m here. I’m glad I’m back on the field now."

Hightower, who was removed from the physically unable to perform list on Wednesday, explained that there was a point during the free agency process at which he believed he might end up playing elsewhere. 

"Yeah, it’s free agency," Hightower said. "But it is what it is. It’s over and done with now. I’m here."

On spending his career to this point in New England and being a member of the Patriots, Hightower added: "It’s meant a lot. I’ve been here my whole career. It wasn’t a hard change for what I had in college, so I was definitely used to it. So it wasn’t a big change. I feel like I’ve had a lot of success in programs like this. Alabama and New England are not too far different. The culture around here, the teammates, the coaches is second to none anywhere. When it came down to my decision, it wasn’t too hard of a choice."

Brady recalls scrubbing rooftops, cleaning industrial parks during summers at Michigan

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Brady recalls scrubbing rooftops, cleaning industrial parks during summers at Michigan

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's not sure if he'll be able to get back to Ann Arbor as he and the Patriots spend some time this week in the state of Michigan leading up to their preseason game against the Lions on Friday. He's hoping he'll be able to sneak over at some point. Maybe he'll have an opportunity to talk to the football team.

On Wednesday, Brady described his time at Michigan as the "pit stop" of his life's journey from California to Massachusetts. It's also representative of the midpoint of his life now in a way since he spent 18 years growing up on the West Coast, and now he's in his 18th year in New England. 

As part of his college experience, Brady learned what it was like to work a job that didn't involve throwing a football. As it turned out, those experiences didn't provide much in the way of on-the-job training for his eventual career. But he didn't know he was going to become a Hall of Fame quarterback. When the fifth round came and went in 2000, he said on Facebook back in 2014, he figured those summer internships during his Michigan days and the resume they beefed up might help him land a gig that would pay the bills. 

"Those were good experiences," he said Wednesday. "I was at Michigan in the summer. You work different jobs, you get a scholarship check, but you're trying to afford -- like all of us were -- our coll experience. I worked in construction. Worked at a golf course to play free golf. That's what I liked to do. Worked at a festival at night so I was working two jobs. It was good experiences. It really was hard work."

And it might have taken his appreciation for playing football -- something he plans to do at an age when most players have been retired for a decade or more -- to a different level.

"I've been so fortunate to do something I love to do," he said. "I've said for a long time, working out and training and being on the practice field never feels like work for me. That definitely felt like work when you're cleaning up industrial parks and scrubbing the tops of roofs and stuff like that. Man, I was pretty tired at the end of those days."