NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.(Photo: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

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PHOENIX —  Hey Patriots fans, guess who is coming to town?

Hint: You can scrap the “Where’s Roger?” chant that rang through Gillette Stadium during the playoffs last season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear where he plans to be when the 2017 season kicks off in September.

“I plan to be at the kickoff game,” Goodell said in response to a question during a news conference Tuesday night that signaled the end of the owners’ meetings.

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The kickoff game is the Thursday night season opener hosted by the Super Bowl champions, so this year it will mark Goodell’s first visit to Gillette Stadium since Deflategate began following the 2014 AFC Championship Game.

The Deflategate investigation – and court appearances – resulted in quarterback Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, and the Patriots being fined and losing draft picks.

The Patriots, of course, went 3-1 during Brady’s suspension en route to winning Super Bowl XLI in February.

It didn’t go unnoticed – by the media or Patriots fans – that Goodell chose to go to Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game even though he had been there the previous week. The only other option on Championship Sunday would have been New England.

And then two weeks later, after what can only be described as an awkward trophy exchange between Goodell and Robert Kraft, the Patriots owner didn’t hold back.

“Two years ago, we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona and I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all. But a lot has transpired over the last two years,” Kraft said. “And I don’t think that needs any explanation. But I want to say to our fans, to our brilliant coaching staff, our amazing players who were so spectacular: this is unequivocally the sweetest.”

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PHOTOS: Remembering the Oakland Raiders

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInReflecting on the Raiders in Oakland FullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff gamePost to Facebook

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
Founded in 1960, the Raiders have spent 44 of their 57 seasons in Oakland and have historically been one of the NFL’s most popular and successful franchises. 
Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
Al Davis quickly became synonymous with the Raiders. He was hired as their coach in 1963 and led them to their first winning season that year. Davis would later he would become the team’s GM before ascending to principal owner. 
Ben Margot, APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
The Raiders were crowned AFL champions following the 1967 season but went on to lose Super Bowl II to the Green Bay Packers 33-14. 
APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
The Raiders enjoyed their heyday under coach John Madden, who led the team to a 112-39-7 record from 1969-78. Madden won one Super Bowl and took Oakland to the playoffs eight times during his 10-year tenure. 
APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
The Raiders’ 32-14 victory in Super Bowl XI brought them their first title. Their intimidating style and talent proved far too much for the overmatched Minnesota Vikings. 
APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
With four catches for 79 yards, Raiders WR and eventual Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff, left, was named MVP of Super Bowl XI. 
APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
Hall of Famer Kenny Stabler quarterbacked the Raiders for most of the 1970s, including the 1976 title team, which went 13-1 and is considered one of the greatest teams in NFL history. 
Anonymous, APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
Stabler was involved in most of the Raiders’ most memorable games, including the “Sea Of Hands” (pictured here). He also played in “The Immaculate Reception,” “Ghost to The Post,” and “Holy Roller” games. 
APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
The Raiders won their second title after the 1980 season, beating Ron Jaworski (7) and the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 in Super Bowl XV. Oakland became the first wild-card team to win a championship. 
APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
Amid one of his many legal scraps with the NFL, Davis moved the Raiders to Los Angeles after the 1981 season. The team won Super Bowl XVIII as the L.A. Raiders. But Davis eventually returned to Oakland, bringing his club back home in 1995. 
Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
The Raiders struggled after returning to the East Bay, failing to post a winning record or reach the playoffs from 1995-99. But coach Jon Gruden revitalized them with his forceful personality and offensive acumen. He took Oakland to the AFC Championship Game following the 2000 season and to the divisional round the following year. 
Jack Gruder, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
The 2001 Raiders seemed to have a good shot at winning the Super Bowl. However they were waylaid by the New England Patriots in the infamous “Tuck Rule” game, one instance were Davis fed into his conspiracy theories about the NFL being out to get his team. 
Matt Campbell, AFPFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
League MVP Rich Gannon led the Raiders to their most recent Super Bowl after the 2002 season. But they flopped in Super Bowl XXXVII, getting blown out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gruden, who was traded to the Bucs after the 2001 season. 
Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
The Raiders fell on hard times following Super Bowl XXXVII, missing the playoffs for the next 13 seasons. The low point came in 2011 when Davis died at age 82. A flame at the Oakland Coliseum keeps his memory alive. 
Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
Through thick and thin, the Raiders have always been backed by a legion of zealous and loyal fans, many of the most creative packing themselves into The Coliseum’s infamous “Black Hole.” 
Kirby Lee, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
Certain themes in the fans’ attire have not changed through the years … 
Kirby Lee, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
… though new generations may add their own spin to costuming. 
Eric Christian Smith, APFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
The Raiders’ trip to Mexico City in 2016 validated that they remain a strong brand internationally. 
Erich Schlegel, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
And from a personnel standpoint, with young stars like DE Khail Mack (52) and QB Derek Carr, who helped lead the Raiders back to the playoffs in 2016, this franchise is poised to be a contender for some time. 
Kirby Lee, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to New England for 2017 kickoff game
But the Raiders’ history and new owner Mark Davis’ stay in Oakland is coming to an end after the NFL paved the way for the team’s relocation to Las Vegas on March 27. 
John Locher, APFullscreen

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