The New England Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl banner will be unveiled at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Thursday night.

The fans will have their first chance to shower quarterback Tom Brady with adulation since a federal judge vacated the four-game suspension he was handed in the NFL’s “Deflategate” investigation.

Oh, yeah, they’ll play an actual football game, too.

Seven months after claiming the franchise’s fourth NFL title, the Patriots return to the field for the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the league’s annual kickoff game. Even for a team that’s made its reputation on avoiding distractions, the competition will provide a welcome relief from a summer of talk about deflated footballs and the ideal gas law.

“It’s time for me to do my job,” Brady said this week when he spoke to reporters for the first time since the news conference for his third Super Bowl MVP award.

“Anything that’s happened over the last seven months really wasn’t my job. This is what my job is, is to go out there and try to be a great leader for our team, to try to go out and execute the plays that are called and execute them at a high level. That’s where my focus is.”

The victory for Brady and the players’ union left Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with mixed emotions.

“I still have a ton of respect for Tom. I think he is the best in the business. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best,” he said. “Yeah, of course one part of you doesn’t want him out there because he is the best in the world, but a bigger part of you as a competitor wants him out there because he is the best.”

No Goodell at opener

Commissioner Roger Goodell, the focus of Patriots fans’ anger during the “Deflategate” investigation, will skip the opener.

“He believes that the focus should be on the game on the field and the festivities celebrating the Patriots’ Super Bowl championship,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “…[He] does not have a function there that requires him to attend.”


• Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is not ready to play for the Giants. Coach Tom Coughlin announced the decision after the team examined the right hand that Pierre-Paul injured in a fireworks accident. Coughlin said the team did not feel he was ready to come back. Coughlin says there is no timetable for his return.

• Police are looking into allegations that Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan touched a woman inappropriately at a New Orleans nightclub and then tried to physically intimidate her boyfriend. Accord to a complaint filed with New Orleans police, the incident occurred around 4 a.m. Sunday. No arrest warrant has been issued and no charges have been filed.

• Though saying the injury to his left hamstring has not entirely healed, running back LeSean McCoy is ready to make his much-anticipated Bills debut in Buffalo’s opener against Indianapolis on Sunday.

• Bears receiver Alshon Jeffrey returned to practice and was listed as limited on the team’s injury report because of a strained left calf.

• Packers receiver Randall Cobb returned to practice after missing the last week of the preseason because of a sprained right shoulder.

• Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said holdout strong safety Kam Chancellor has not shown up at the team’s practice facility and won’t play in the opener.