By Sterling Pingree
We’ve seen awkward moments in sports. Heck, just last week we saw a star wide receiver broadcast his coach on Facebook Live giving a speech about not giving bulletin board material to the other team, before demonstrating what bulletin board material is by calling the other team a bunch of bad words. We’ve seen awkward, what about when Steve Lyons tried to remove the dirt from his baseball pants and wound up just pulling his pants down in from of an entire stadium? That’s awkward, but next Sunday in Houston we could be heading towards the most awkward moment in sports history if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has to hand Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Think for a moment and just imagine what that would look like? It’s almost difficult to do, because of what has transpired over the last two years. There’s been court dates, press conferences, press releases, reports, rulings, suspensions, reversals, double reverses, appeals, repeals, deals, no deals, judgments, injunctions and no budging on either side. The commissioner hasn’t had the guts to show his face in Foxboro since the whole thing began, because like Rob Bradford told us on Wednesday, people from this area know how to hold a grudge.
Goodell went to Atlanta back to back weeks to avoid showing his face in New England. That’s the only explanation because there is no way that he felt a strong urge to send out the Georgia Dome twice. By the “do rag” of Deion Sanders, IT OPENED IN 1992! Can you think of one major sporting moment that happened there? It hosted Super Bowls 28 and 34, which is probably the correct answer, but on a list of the greatest moments in the brief history of the Georgia Dome, the Sporting News listed the 1996 Olympic women’s gymnastics final as its second greatest event. Counselor, I rest my case.
You know how your parents always told you putting something off always makes it worse and then of course it does? Apparently Roger Goodell doesn’t have parents, because he’s put off any sort of civility with the Patriots cavalry for so long that now any interaction is going to be more awkward than telling somebody you accidentally used their tooth brush. But would Goodell standing on a stage in front of millions of people at the Super Bowl and handing over the hardware to the Pats be the most awkward moment in NFL history? Probably, but let me present one other finalist.
In the spring of 1983, Al Davis wanted to move his Oakland Raiders to Los Angeles. (My how some things never go out of style?) Commissioner Pete Rozelle said “Al, I sure wish you wouldn’t do that” to wit Al said “I’m sorry Peter, but I really want to, so I shall.” Rozelle blocked Davis from moving his team, at which point Davis sued the NFL for the rights to move and guess what? Davis won and moved the Raiders to Los Angeles. The NFL was made to look like a fool and this could not have made Commissioner Pete Rozelle very pleased, indeed not pleased at all. But that wasn’t the worst part for the Ol’ Commish no that would come at the end of the season where live on CBS, Rozelle had to hand the Lombardi trophy to Al Davis as his Los Angeles Raiders mauled the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. How hard to do think Rozelle was rooting for Washington that night?
Probably about as hard as Goodell is rooting for the Falcons against the Patriots next weekend. Goodell said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd this week that it would be an honor to hand Brady the Super Bowl trophy. If you believe that, I’ve got some ocean front property in the Georgia Dome to sell if you’re interested.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.