Word on the street has it that Roger Goodell wants to get more football fans sitting in stadium seats this season. That could be accomplished by decreasing the pricing on tickets, parking, vendor items, etc...but no, that's not gonna happen. What is happening this season is weird, all across America.
People are coming out en masse to watch their favorite team stretch and throw passes across thin air.
50,000+ Packer fans gathered together to watch Aaron Rodgers "whip passes against invisible defensive backs" in an in-stadium practice last week. The Broncos had an audience of over 41,300 at Mile High for last Saturday's scrimmage. While that number is probably due to the appearance of Peyton Manning more than anything else, it's still higher than the number of fans that went to Coors Field to watch the Rockies play the S.F. Giants. <35,242>
The same thing is happening here in New England. Each day sees an increase in the number of people watching the Pats practice, more than 14,000 for one day at last count. Folks were climbing over one another to sit in the bleachers and fill the hills next to the fields behind Gillette. It was stated in the paper that "crowds have grown so thick that the team was forced to move the media and VIP tents" to make room for them.
There were regular season games played at Schaefer Stadium that attracted fewer than 14,000 fans. As Coach Bill Belichick put it, "the sport has exploded; pro football has exploded."
I don't know exactly why fans of other teams are willing to brave the heat and humidity to watch their team in training camp but for New England I'd say it's a chance to see draft picks Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones put through their paces to shore up this season's defense. Last year's players aren't the only ones still feeling the sting of another Super Bowl loss to the NY Giants. But from what I hear coming out of training camp all systems are go.
And Roger Goodell? Where does he fit into this? Well, right now he's working hard to get American-style football included in the Olympic Games. Pretty soon he's going to need a larger suit.