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Patriots fans cheer 5th banner, boo Roger Goodell

  • The newest banner, right, commemorating the New England Patriots' Super Bowl 51 victory, joins the other four as it is unveiled at Gillette Stadium before an NFL football game between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

  • A fan wears a T-shirt bearing the face of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell while tailgating in the parking lot of Gillette Stadium before a football game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) Michael Dwyer

  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell laughs as he talks with others on the field before an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer Michael Dwyer

  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, center, walks onto the field before an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. A fan, top, wears a T-shirt bearing Goodell's likeness. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gets pumped up as he takes the field before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) Michael Dwyer



Associated Press
Thursday, September 07, 2017

FOXBOROUGH — Before the New England Patriots could show off their latest Super Bowl banner, they needed to do some minor renovations to their home stadium.

The team had run out of room on the facade where their first four banners were displayed. So signs were raised. Lights were moved. And the banners recognizing the 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2014 titles were shrunk a bit to make room for a fifth that owner Robert Kraft declared “unequivocally the sweetest.”

Everything was back in position Thursday night at the NFL’s festive season opener, when the Patriots celebrated their fifth Super Bowl championship in a ceremony before their game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Flo Rida performed on an end zone stage, and Boston-grown actor Mark Wahlberg served as master of ceremonies for the banner ceremony. Five large replicas of the Vince Lombardi Trophy were stationed on the field, and players from the first four championships ducked out from behind them with the real thing.

Receiver Julian Edelman — who was injured and lost for the year during the exhibition season — got one of the biggest cheers of the night when he came out with the trophy from 2014.

A lot has happened since then.

On their way to the Super Bowl that year, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was accused of orchestrating a scheme to illegally deflate footballs used in the AFC championship game. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brady four games; the punishment remained in limbo as the scandal that came to be known as “Deflategate” stretched into a third season before it was ultimately upheld in the federal courts.

Despite losing Brady for a quarter of the regular season — or perhaps inspired by it — the Patriots returned to the Super Bowl. Then, after falling behind 28-3 in the third quarter, Brady rallied them to the first overtime victory in Super Bowl history.

Fans reveled as highlights from the game were played on the scoreboard, and they booed lustily when Goodell was shown yucking it up with Chiefs owner Clark Hunt on the sideline during warmups. (A website distributed thousands of towels featuring Goodell’s face adorned with a clown nose, and many fans also had T-shirts with the caricature.)

As the teams prepared for kickoff, the fans chanted the commissioner’s name derisively.