In a surprise move that many will consider controversial, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced this morning that the New England Patriots cannot be awarded their trophy and rings for winning the Super Bowl until they play in the Super Bowl.

“After giving this careful thought,” said Goodell, “I have determined that we are a football league. Therefore, before our NFL audience sees me handing an unsmiling, champagne-soaked Bill Belichick the Vince Lombardi trophy, they also expect to see football.”

“Focus group testing,” said Commissioner Goodell, “has demonstrated greater viewer engagement if, instead of immediately cutting to locker room shots of the Patriots wildly celebrating their sixth Super Bowl win, we first show our viewers uniformed men, on a field, playing football with a football.”

“I cannot simply announce,” said Goodell, “several hours before the actual Super Bowl, that the New England Patriots have won Super Bowl LIII, even though they have.”

Reactions to the NFL’s unexpected decision to require a pre-Super-Bowl-awards-ceremony football game were mixed. “Forcing the Patriots to play football before they can have their Super Bowl rings just shows how biased the NFL is against the Pats,” said New England fan Susan Kasper.

Self-described football junky Bill Bernstein had a more positive reaction. “There are two teams in the Super Bowl,” said Bernstein, “the Patriots offense and the Patriots defense. They really should play football.”

Former quarterback Tony Romo, who will be calling the game on CBS, lauded the NFL’s decision. “You need a football game,” said Romo, “because the outcome of the game is totally unpredictable, other than that the Patriots will be the winners.”

At the close of his press conference, Commissioner Goodell summed up the issue succinctly. “The other reason we need to have a football game is that we have millions of dollars in ads to run. That’s really the crux of the problem.”