Roger Goodell attended the New England Patriots season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night and everything went according to plan by Barstool Sports, because he was surrounded by 70,000 towels bearing his face.
To say that Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy despises Roger Goodell is an understatement. Ever since Deflategate, Portnoy has been on a warpath to dismantle the NFL commissioner’s scheme to dethrone the Brady Bunch.
From handcuffing himself to the front lobby desk at NFL headquarters in response to Brady’s four game suspension last year to jibing Goodell at Brady’s hearings, what else could Portnoy have up his sleeve? Well, how about distributing 70,000 turquoise towels showing Roger Goodell wearing a clown nose to fans attending the Patriots-Chiefs game last Thursday night?
Portnoy deemed his effort as, “Operation Clownface.”
A few weeks ago, Portnoy devised his plan and initially ordered 30,000 of these towels to get under the commissioner’s skin (yet again). However, Portnoy said, “The reaction was so overwhelming and so positive I started thinking maybe that wasn’t enough. Maybe I needed to buy enough to fill the entire stadium.” He did just that. Portnoy ordered 40,000 more towels and spent a whopping $140,000 on all of them.
This effort was not a solo one by any means because Portnoy had “thousands of volunteers” contributing to the distribution cause on Thursday. Four hours before the game, Barstool was at Rodman Ford in Foxborough to distribute the remaining 10,000 towels left in their cache. And the turnout? Hundreds of New England fans lined up to snag a towel to shame the commish (who wouldn’t?) before they headed to Banner Night.
Since this was Goodell’s first game at Gillette Stadium since the 2015 AFC Championship game and Deflategate, Portnoy could not have picked a better occasion. However, this will not be the first time Roger sees this satirical portrayal. As the Patriots were returning home from their Super Bowl victory in February, Matt Patricia was spotted wearing a turquoise t-shirt donning Goodell the Clown. Supposedly, Goodell was “miffed” upon seeing the image, but anything goes when you misuse your power as the commissioner.
Unfortunately, Goodell didn’t react to Portnoy’s plot. However, to add even more fuel to the fire, Goodell finished up his pregame duties early before the majority of fans entered the stadium to mitigate facing their wrath. If this wasn’t enough to shelter Goodell from bedlam, the Patriots agreed to not flash any shots of the commissioner on the video screens inside the stadium during the game. This guy doesn’t have thick skin at all. Sad (but we already knew that).
Before the game Portnoy said, “I hope we have 70% of the stadium with the towels, waving them. Just a sea of turquoise. And that’s good enough for me. I don’t think it’s gonna get on TV. Well, I don’t know if they’ll mention it on TV. It’s not a publicity stunt in terms of trying to create more PR for Barstool, said Portnoy in a pregame interview Thursday evening.
Turns out Portnoy succeeded in his hazing.
To go out on a limb here, how far does Portnoy have to go to end up turning this satirical mockery into harassment? I know, this whole time I’ve been adding fuel to Portnoy’s cause, but If I had the Patriot faithful changing my name and Bostonians dressing up a scarecrow that looks like me tied up in a fire pit on Halloween, I’d be pretty concerned for my well-being. There has been so much negativity towards Roger that if you get the right Patriots fan, they might, well, nevermind.
On Friday, Portnoy said the Pats loss “put the kibosh on Operation Clownface, but now we’re on to New Orleans.” Will this be Portnoy’s last shot at the commissioner with props this season? Time will only tell.