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Roger Goodell to attend New England Patriots' opener

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is returning to New England.

Speaking Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Goodell confirmed that he plans to attend the Patriots' 2017 NFL Kickoff game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

Breaking with tradition, Goodell was not on hand for New England's 2015 home opener after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX. He also missed January's AFC Championship Game between the Pats and the Steelers, choosing instead to travel to Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game.

Here's what else we learned from Goodell's news conference Tuesday:

  1. Goodell refuted the notion that free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being "blackballed" by NFL teams after protesting during the national anthem last season.

"I haven't heard that from our clubs in any way that it's an issue," Goodell explained. "From my experience in 35 years, is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to recruit their teams and if they think a player can help them improve their team, they are going to do that."

  1. Goodell asked the NFL Competition Committee to table discussions on excessive celebration rules until he has the opportunity to speak with players. A vote is still possible at the next meeting in May, but Goodell wants to gain "clarity" and allow players "more ability to express themselves" before the issue is crystallized.
  1. Asked about the potential pitfalls facing young players in Las Vegas due to the Raiders' future relocation, Goodell pointed to the league's Personal Conduct Policy.

"I think we have an obligation to do that with all 32 teams," Goodell said. "My experience is that 21-year-olds can find trouble in a lot of different places, by the way. That's one of the reasons we have focused so much on our personal conduct policy. It's educating, helping players make better judgments, giving them better information so they avoid problems. These are the types of things that have been very effective."

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