The NFL season kicks off tonight in New England with a game broadcast on NBC, but the sports world buzz is about a different media company that views itself more as a league antagonist than partner: Barstool Sports.
Barstool, which was founded in Boston before relocating to New York after being purchased by The Chernin Group, is working with volunteers to distribute 70,000 towels emblazoned with the image of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as a clown, ahead of the first regular season game Goodell has attended in Foxborough since he suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his alleged role in over-inflating footballs.
Axios asked Barstool CEO Erika Nardini how she views the stunt's return on investment for the company. Her reply:
"We didn't do it for return on investment. We did it because we love Boston and Patriots Nation, and still feel really connected there and it was what we could do to help the cause. It helps us be connected to Boston which has high ROI."
Running scared: Goodell reportedly has decided to avoid being near the field once most fans begin arriving, and also won't sit in the box of Patriots owner Robert Kraft (where he would be highly visible, and likely shown both on television and on in-stadium screens).
The big unknown: How many of these towels will actually make it into the stadium. The more that do, the higher the chances that the NFL's leader will be embarrassed on his league's opening night. At least one has already gotten through the gates: