Patriots thrive in role as nationwide villain (Reuters)

By Larry Fine FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Reuters) – By the third quarter of Sunday’s AFC title game, Gillette Stadium erupted in a “Where is Roger?” chant while the New England Patriots were well on their way to clinching a record ninth trip to the Super Bowl. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has been conspicuous in his absence from New England’s home games the last few years, has long been held as a villain by the team’s supporters, just as outside their borders the remarkable Patriots are viewed by many as cheaters. “They’ve got some priors, so it certainly creates that,” Boston sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy told Reuters about the loathing of the Pats by rival NFL teams and their fans before New England’s 36-17 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers.