Patriots and Raiders are the main topics at Commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual Super Bowl news conference
The New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders will play a game next season in Mexico, and issues surrounding those two NFL teams dominated questions Wednesday during Commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual Super Bowl news conference.
The Patriots, who will play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium, have been at odds with Goodell over his four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady for his role in an alleged deflated-ball scheme.
“We’re moving on from that,” Goodell said of Deflategate. “That’s part of our history but we’re comfortable with the process, the decision.”
Patriots fans, of course, remain irate.
Goodell did not attend any games this season at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. During the AFC championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, fans chanted “Roger.”
With Patriots owner Robert Kraft looking on, a reporter asked Goodell if he was avoiding Boston.
“No,” he said. “If I’m invited back to Foxborough, I’ll come.”
The questions about the Patriots kept coming during Goodell’s 43 minutes at the podium.
But the Raiders also figured prominently.
Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson said this week he was no longer helping the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas. And Goldman Sachs also pulled out as a financier of a proposed Las Vegas stadium.
Goodell said the Raiders’ application to relocate was “one that we’re considering carefully, but there is a great deal of work to be done and there are several elements of that.”
Goodell said he did see “an ownership position in a team from a casino.” He added, “not likely a stadium either.”
The Chargers’ move from San Diego to Los Angeles also was the topic of several questions, including whether San Diego could be a viable landing spot for the Raiders if the Las Vegas option falls through.
“For any team to relocate to San Diego at this point in time, we’re going to have to find a solution to the stadium problem, one that we couldn’t do after probably 15 years of effort,” Goodell said. “That doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future.
“In fact, there is a history of markets that get these projects done once a team leaves. That’s unfortunate, because I think it’s a painful way to do it, but this is something we obviously would work toward ... but we’re moving forward at this point.”
Goodell also touched on other topics, among them:
►Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara will toss the coin before kickoff Sunday.
►Goodell defended the quality of play during Thursday night games and said there was no greater injury risk than during Sunday games. He said the league might not feature all 32 teams on Thursday going forward.
►There is “no timetable” for domestic abuse investigations involving Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown.
►The NFL will explore ways to reduce stoppages during games, including reducing the number of commercial breaks in a quarter from five to four.
►When asked about President Trump’s policy regarding refugees and concern that political events might overshadow the Super Bowl, Goodell said, “We’re aware of the conversations going on and the division. As commissioner of the NFL, I’m singularly focused on the Super Bowl right now. As I’ve said before, we have a unique position to have an event that will bring the world together.”
►On whether the NFL could return to St. Louis, he said, “We have a lot of respect for the community, for the fans there, and if they want to engage in that we would.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady intimated Monday that family issues made for a challenging season.
On Tuesday, there were reports that Brady’s mother, Galynn, has been dealing with an unspecified health issue.
Brady said Wednesday that he hoped his mother could attend Sunday’s game.
“I’m just hoping everyone’s here on Sunday to share in a great experience,” he said of his family. “But it has been a tough year. Every family goes through different things and my family’s always been a great support system for me and hopefully we can make everyone happy on Sunday.”
Brady spoke about how he always locates family members and friends in the stands before games.
“It’s a special moment, it’s always been that way,” he said, adding, “it will be as special as it’s ever been.”
Falcons kicker Matt Bryant, at 41, is the oldest player in the Super Bowl.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “With 15 years in the league, I guess you could say my window is closing a little bit.”
Bryant made 34 of 37 field goals, 56 of 57 extra points and was voted the Pro Bowl for the first time. Falcons Coach Dan Quinn said he called Bryant after he was selected for the annual All-Star game and asked him if he wanted to participate.
“And he said, ‘Only if we’re not in the Super Bowl,’ ” Quinn said. “So, way back even in December, I knew where his mind-set was at.”
Bryant said he never visualized kicking a game-winning field goal in the Super Bowl.
“As a kid, I was imagining catching a pass from Joe Montana,” he said. “I can remember that, but no, as I got to this point it’s part of the element.
“It could happen and I’m going to step up and do what I’ve always done.”
Writing his story
Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett had a notebook on the table in front of him and he pulled out several more from beneath it, explaining to reporters that he constantly jots down thoughts, impressions and stories to help him as a writer.
Bennett has published a children’s book titled “Hey A.J. It’s Saturday!” and said he has another on the way.
Bennett said he began writing creative stories as a means of explaining to his mother why he had stolen candy bars. The stories got increasingly detailed and creative as his love of reading and writing blossomed.
“My stories were awesome,” he said.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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