In two weeks, Roger Goodell’s greatest nightmare may come true.

OK, maybe that’s a stretch. Perhaps the commissioner of the National Football League has a bigger fear of spiders. Or maybe antique furniture.

But there’s no question one of the most awkward exchanges in NFL history could happen Feb. 5 if Goodell is forced to hand the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the New England Patriots, should they find a way to beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

And you know what? The man has brought it upon himself.

It’s been a bad year for Goodell. Heck, it’s been a bad decade for the man, but for this space let’s just focus on the 2016 season. The San Diego Chargers are no longer in San Diego, spurning the city after a 55-year history that included the old American Football League days. They decided to move to Los Angeles — a city that hasn’t exactly welcomed the franchise with open arms — for the sole purpose of raking in more money.

Following that fiasco, the Raiders filed paperwork to leave Oakland — which would be the second time the franchise has left the city — in favor of Las Vegas. Another move to make more money.

In Goodell’s defense, his job is to help the owners make more money. He works for the owners. But it seems that in his era, some of the moves have alienated a fan base so much it’s as if Goodell and the owners are challenging fans to turn off the most popular sports league in the country.

And now Goodell is forced to stare down an old foe that he’s tried to put off for the past year. As you know, the NFL slapped New England quarterback Tom Brady with a four-game suspension over “Deflategate” — an investigation that provided no real hard evidence over alleged ball tampering during the 2015 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Goodell and the NFL hired Ted Wells to investigate. Then, despite little concrete evidence generated from the probe, the league found a way to suspend Brady.

Brady and the NFL fought over the suspension through the court system for well over a year, before Brady finally dropped his appeal of the suspension in mid-July, giving way to backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the first four games of this season.

We all know what happens next: Garoppolo and third-stringer Jacoby Brissett help the Pats to a 3-1 record, Brady returns, and then unleashes a fury with his play that, frankly, we have never seen in his 17 seasons in the league. At the age of 39, Brady put up MVP-caliber numbers (3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns, two interceptions in 12 regular season games). Mix that with a healthy run game and strong defensive play, and New England has found its way to the Super Bowl for the seventh time during the Brady/Bill Belichick era.

Of course, I haven’t even brought up the “Spygate” videotape punishment of 2007, which seems like 100 years ago. Unless, of course, you’re a Patriots fan.

Since the suspension, Goodell has stayed as far away from Deflategate and the region. Scarborough police even had to keep an eye on Goodell’s summer home in the Prouts Neck area of the town. Goodell — once a frequent visitor of Gillette Stadium — has not attended a single Pats game since Brady’s suspension. It’s a move that’s riled Pats fans, who could be heard chanting “Where is Roger?” throughout the AFC Championship game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Goodell decided to fly to Atlanta to watch the NFC Championship game against the Falcons and the Green Bay Packers instead.

Should the Pats on Feb. 5 win their fifth Super Bowl, Goodell will have no place to hide. Sadly, Goodell could have made his mea culpa with Pats fans much earlier in the season. He could have showed up in Foxborough, sat in the luxury box with Pats owner Robert Kraft and heard the boobirds for a game. That may have been enough for Pats fans. But that time has come and gone. Now they want Brady to have his moment, for Kraft and Belichick to grab the Lombardi trophy from Goodell and for him to never show his face in Foxborough, Prouts Neck, or any other area of New England ever again.

It will be the ultimate awkward moment for Goodell. And he’ll only have himself to blame.

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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