Roger Goodell says his friendship with Robert Kraft was ‘never strained’

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hands the Lombardi Trophy to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft after defeating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
The Patriots defeated the Falcons 34-28 after overtime.  / AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hands the Lombardi Trophy to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft after the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51. –Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

In the aftermath of Deflategate, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said that he didn’t know if his relationship with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would “ever be the same.” Goodell, however, appears to think that the pair’s current friendship is just as intact as it was prior to the controversy.

“My friendship with Robert was never strained,” he told the Jerusalem Post’s Allon Sinai. “We both understand that we have jobs.”

“My respect and admiration for him has never waned,” Goodell continued. “We believe our best days are ahead.”

Despite being ruthlessly booed at Super Bowl trophy presentation, Goodell — who hasn’t been back to Gillette Stadium since January 2015 — announced that he does plan to attend the NFL kickoff game in Foxborough on September 7. Kraft extended an invitation to the commissioner in February, calling the Pats’ home opener against the Chiefs “the perfect opportunity” to welcome him back.

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As part of Kraft’s “Touchdown in Israel II” trip, the two were also recently photographed at the inauguration of the Kraft Family Sports Complex in Jerusalem. Along with 18 Patriots Hall of Famers, Kraft is spending a week in the Middle Eastern country to “experience the culture and history of Israel and participate in special football events showcasing the growth of the game in the country.”