NBC Cagey on Plans to Cover Barstool’s 70,000 Roger Goodell Clown Towels

Network won't commit to showing towels mocking NFL commish during opener

Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell
Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell / Getty Images

Executives at NBC Sports were noncommittal about whether the network will cover the 70,000 towels portraying NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as a red-nosed clown that will be distributed to fans attending Thursday night's NFL opener.

The towels were created for the opener by Boston-bred Barstool Sports, a website that has targeted Goodell since he suspended Tom Brady, because it would likely be the first time Goodell attended a New England Patriots game since the suspension was handed down. The website handed out 60,000 of the bright blue towels to fans pledging to distribute them at the game and will hand out an additional 10,000 itself.

NBC Sports, however, refuses to comment on whether it will cover the spectacle.

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"We will show the commissioner during tonight's coverage of the game and cover any related news appropriately," a spokesman for NBC Sports told the Washington Free Beacon.

Asked whether there has been any internal NBC discussion as to whether Barstool's towels are considered "related news" or whether the NFL has reached out to them on the issue, the spokesman said the above would be NBC's "only comment on this topic."

Barstool founder Dave Portnoy told the Free Beacon that NBC has not reached out to him.

On a Thursday podcast on Yahoo, Barstool CEO Erika Nardini shared her belief that the establishment media's symbiotic relationship with the NFL is producing a watered-down product for viewers.

"The relationship between media entities and the leagues is so long-standing and tight that there's really no church and state there," said Nardini. "That's not great for the consumer, because you become very packaged and watered-down."

Barstool's relationship with the NFL is far from symbiotic—the website's reporters were banned from the NFL's media events at last year's Super Bowl, though the league denied Goodell had anything to do with the situation.

Thursday's encounter between Barstool's many Boston readers and Goodell has been years in the making. The feud publicly began in 2015 when Portnoy and three of his employees were arrested for staging a sit-in at NFL headquarters in protest of Brady's suspension.

The website has grown in the years since and so has its feud with Goodell, who attempted to claim before the Super Bowl he did not know what the website was.

A few days later, Goodell was reportedly "really bothered" when a top member of the Patriot's coaching staff decided to sport one of Barstool's shirts portraying Goodell as a clown.

Many, including Patriots players and coach Bill Belichick, have acknowledged the stunt and given their thoughts on it, but both NBC and the NFL remain mum.

Goodell reportedly plans to leave the field long before a bulk of the fans arrive in an attempt to limit the amount of attention that he will be paid.

Goodell will also not be sitting with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who just last week participated in a Barstool video with Portnoy.

The Patriots say that Goodell will not be shown on screens in the stadium during the game.