SCARBOROUGH — Richard Pate is a hard-core fan of the New England Patriots and the team’s star quarterback, Tom Brady.

So when fans of the Patriots’ division rival, the New York Jets, hired a pilot to fly over Gillette Stadium last Thursday – the Patriots’ first day of preseason practice – hauling a banner that read, “Cheaters Look Up,” Pate, who lives in Biddeford, knew he had to retaliate. A crowd estimated at 10,000 attended the practice.

Pate decided to hire a local pilot to fly an aerial banner over NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s summer home in Prouts Neck – an exclusive waterfront neighborhood in Scarborough.

Like many Patriots fans, Pate said he was feeling a bit put-upon after Goodell decided to uphold his suspension of Brady for four regular season games for the quarterback’s role in the so-called Deflategate incident at the AFC championship game last January against the Indianapolis Colts. Goodell held Brady accountable after game balls were found to be underinflated.

The Jets banner simply added fuel to the fire. Pate’s banner read, “Comm. Goodell Jet home to N.Y.” The NFL offices are headquartered in New York City.

“There was absolutely no vindictiveness whatsoever with my banner,” Pate said Sunday evening. “But the commissioner has been anything but impartial. He has put the Patriots at a competitive disadvantage with his ruling.”

Goodell, who served as the hearing officer in the appeal, announced his decision last Tuesday.

Fans of the rival New York Jets had this “cheaters” banner flown over Gillette Stadium last Thursday during the Patriots’ first preseason practice. That gave Richard Pate of Biddeford the idea for flying his own banner over NFL chief Roger Goodell’s home in Scarborough.

Fans of the rival New York Jets had this “cheaters” banner flown over Gillette Stadium last Thursday during the Patriots’ first preseason practice. That gave Richard Pate of Biddeford the idea for flying his own banner over NFL chief Roger Goodell’s home in Scarborough. The Associated Press

“I wanted to send him a subliminal message. … Get back to work, get this issue resolved. You’re not going to get anything done by vacationing at Prouts Neck. Get back to New York City,” Pate said.

Brady and the NFL players union have appealed Goodell’s decision. The case is scheduled to be heard by a judge later this month in Manhattan.

The 69-year-old Pate, who flies ultralight aircraft out of the Biddeford Municipal Airport, knew just the person who could help him with his aerial protest.

Pate hired John Apte, the owner of Screaming Eagle Aviation in Biddeford, to fly over Prouts Neck on Saturday and Sunday.

“I’ve told everybody that it was worth every penny,” Pate said.

He wouldn’t say how much hiring the plane cost. Screaming Eagle’s website lists the price of a one-hour banner ad flight at $450.

Apte said he departed from the Biddeford airport around 4 p.m. Sunday and flew his 1951 Cessna 170 twice over Old Orchard Beach, Prouts Neck and Scarborough Beach State Park.

Apte estimated that there must have been hundreds, if not thousands of people, who saw the banner asking that Goodell return to New York. The nylon banner is 100-feet-long and contains letters that are 5 feet high.

Neither Pate or Apte could confirm that Goodell was in Scarborough this weekend.

Scarborough Police Chief Robby Moulton said the flights over Prouts Neck did not draw any noise complaints.

Last week, the NFL contacted Scarborough police about the commissioner’s decision and how it might prove unpopular with Patriots fans. Police said they have monitored the property in the past and are not providing any private security for Goodell. Moulton said Sunday there had been no new developments since Tuesday.

A banner with the message “Comm. Goodell Jet Home to N.Y.” waits to be picked up and towed by a plane at Biddeford Municipal Airport on Sunday.

A banner with the message “Comm. Goodell Jet Home to N.Y.” waits to be picked up and towed by a plane at Biddeford Municipal Airport on Sunday. Carl D. Walsh/Staff photographer

Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, said in an email Sunday night that “we do not have a reaction or any other comment” about the banner being flown over Goodell’s home.

Goodell is believed to own a $6.5 million house on Bohemia Way. He is married to Jane Skinner, a former reporter for WCSH-TV in Portland.

Apte confessed he has no idea where Goodell’s home is located on Prouts Neck.

“Nobody shot at me,” Apte said. “But if I ever met him (Goodell), I’d say I have no hard feelings. I would say it’s nothing personal. If you have any problems with what I did, call Richard.”

Pate said he has no regrets about the banner.

He even ran into a Patriots fan Saturday night while they were dining at a restaurant at Pine Point in Scarborough. The man, who is from Massachusetts, couldn’t stop talking about the banner and how great it made him feel.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is how tough it has been being a Patriots fan. I can remember the two (wins) and 14 (loss) seasons,” Pate said.

He said Goodell has set the Patriots back by taking away the team’s premier offensive weapon. He has no tolerance for the Jets fans who orchestrated the cheaters banner.

Pate said a lot of teams and owners are envious of the Patriots’ success, and Goodell’s ruling only bolsters those opinions.

“They (the Jets) can’t beat us on the football field. I’ll be damned if they try to beat us on the practice field,” he said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby contributed to this report.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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