NFL scrubs Super Bowl script, boots Barstool Sports – Boston Herald

The NFL has scrubbed references to President Trump and Commissioner Roger Goodell from official transcripts of Super Bowl week interviews — while booting a pro-Patriots blog from taking part in any media events in Houston — as the league bends over backwards to protect the shield in the run-up to the big game.

“This is just a continuation of Roger Goodell controlling the narrative,” said Dave Portnoy, founder of sports and satire site Barstool Sports, which is banned by the National Football League from Super Bowl press activities. “He doesn’t want people who have a strong opposing view to have a voice here.”

As Barstool Sports attempts to cover Super Bowl LI without credentials, other far-flung media organizations are only getting snippets of what’s being said by players. For example, despite being peppered with questions about Trump, no responses from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady are written out in the league transcript.

“I’m not talking politics at all,” Brady said after being asked multiple questions about his thoughts on the president. “I just want to focus on the positive aspect of this game and my teammates.”

That comment and the questions leading up to it can only be found in reports from credentialed reporters. Also missing from the transcript is Brady’s response to a Herald question about former President George H.W. Bush being released from a Houston hospital.

“Well, I’m glad he’s out of the hospital, certainly, and I’ve had a chance to be around him on a few occasions and always enjoyed it,” Brady said.

Multiple media outlets are citing a Herald video for the comment.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who wrote a letter of encouragement to Trump in the waning days of the campaign, was also asked about the Republican firebrand.

“I’m focused on getting my team ready to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night,” he said, in typical Belichick fashion.

But that comment is also missing from the official NFL scroll. So too are any references to Goodell, who may have to hand Brady and the Patriots a Super Bowl trophy just months after the star quarterback served a controversial four-game suspension given by the commissioner as part of the Deflategate saga.

That approach, said free-speech advocate Harvey Silverglate, could backfire.

“While voluntary censorship is legal, I think there is a real moral problem. In today’s media environment you can’t filter out the stuff you don’t want — the media is all around you and it will find the message,” Silverglate told the Herald.

“It’s kind of like holding up your hand to the ocean and expecting the waves to stop,” he said. “It’s just not a good idea.”

A spokesman for the league said providing full transcripts of the interviews would be impracticable because they want to provide media with quotes “in an efficient manner” and league representatives “cannot stay for the full one-hour session and then turn around quotes.”

Meanwhile, Barstool Sports is not even allowed into the media events — but that isn’t stopping them from trying to sneak in when they can.

The NFL said it pulled Barstool Sports’ credentials because Portnoy and three employees organized a sit-in at the league offices in May 2015 after Goodell’s punishment of Brady in the Deflategate scandal.

“I think the fact that we are so pro-Patriots and so anti-Goodell definitely plays into it,” Portnoy said.

“It’s the same reason why Goodell won’t come to Foxboro for any games. It’s all related. They don’t want us to ask questions that they know we’re going to ask.”

Goodell chose to attend the NFC Championship in Atlanta instead of the AFC Championship in Foxboro. With no other games this Sunday, the league commissioner will be in Houston for the Super Bowl.


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