Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose handling of the Deflategate case has drawn scorn from the Patriots' fan base in recent months, will skip Thursday night's game between the reigning Super Bowl champions and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium, an NFL spokesman told Fox Sports.
Goodell opted not to attend because he "believes the focus should be on the game on the field and the festivities celebrating the Patriots' Super Bowl championship," league spokesman Brian McCarthy told Fox Sports. He will watch on TV instead.
Goodell will attend a game on the opening Sunday, although which one is unclear, McCarthy told Fox Sports.
Goodell's four-game suspension of Tom Brady for the Patriots quarterback's alleged role in Deflategate was overturned Thursday by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman. The NFL has appealed.
Goodell also previously fined the Patriots $1 million and docked them two draft picks for deflating balls under the permissible limit in the AFC Championship Game in January against the Indianapolis Colts.
Goodell traditionally has attended the Thursday night opener, which is played at the home of the previous season's Super Bowl winner.
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