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Roger Goodell wants you to be more like European soccer crowds

Ever have one of those “I told you so” moments? Chances are we all have and you are about to get another one. It may be a bit premature, but in this fast-paced 24-hour news cycle I figure I better take my shot while I can and once again the target is National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.

If you’ve read any of my Goodell rants in the past then you know they have been primarily focused on the Commissioner’s personal assault on the way the game is played and his efforts to essentially eliminate aggressiveness, intimidation and violence from the game we love. In other words, turn it into flag football.

I’m not going there today, but the subject is not new to my legions of loyal readers (all 7 of you) who know my feelings on the direction Goodell and his co-horts who are wrecking the game. That direction by the way is due east and the continent of Europe.

 SI.com writer Peter King is a writer who I really enjoy reading despite the fact that I disagree with him often on certain subjects, but yesterday’s column nearly sent me over the edge. King had an opportunity to sit down with Lord Vader, errrrr, Commissioner Goodell recently at a ranch owned by Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank in Montana.

Most of the conversation as you would expect centered on ‘player safety’ and post-NFL life for players but then suddenly I was jolted from my otherwise comfy spot on the deck. The following excerpt is from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback from Monday, June 11th 2012 as the discussion between the two turned to the ‘in-game experience’ for NFL fans.

We ended discussing the in-stadium experience. I said I’d learned a lot about the appreciation of the game from watching cricket in England with absolutely no bells and whistles and 105-decibel music — simply the game. And he talked about how he’d love to find a way to replicate the natural excitement and fan involvement of world soccer, where, among other things, fans break out in song and chants through the game.

Sounds like a great goal for the NFL. To me, the way to do that isn’t to bombard people with piped-in noise.

And there it was. I told you so. What I’ve been claiming for years has been brought ever closer to reality and I don’t like it and chances are you don’t either. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell wants your NFL experience to be like that of the world soccer type and while King agrees with him, this isn’t about him. It’s about what Roger Goodell is planning to do the game we love.

The NFL has been playing regular season games in Europe now for the last several seasons and will again this year. While Europe certainly has many transplants from the US and many homegrown NFL fans, I’m sorry but the game doesn’t belong there. I understand your plight, I really do, but regular season NFL games belong in their appropriate stadiums where fans and season ticket holders are valued and not tossed to the curb.

Goodell wants to expand to Europe and if you think I’m wrong then I’m Chevy Chase and you’re not.

In preparation for this, he now wants your day at the stadium to be filled with chants and songs sung in unison and vuvuzelas blaring to replicate the scenes from soccer stadiums around the world. We prefer cowbells and air horns Mr. Commissioner, not long tubes. Gone are The Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’ and Zombie Nation’s ‘Kerncraft 400′ at kickoff. And would you do away with the only thing that anyone likes about the Cowboys? Their cheerleaders? Gasp!

Hey fellow Steelers fans! No more ‘Renegade’ in the 3rd or 4th quarter. Instead we’ll watch highlights of our defenders pulling flags while we hold banners and sing ‘Ole Ole Ole!’

“Here We Go Steelers!” will be replaced by something much less aggressive-sounding such as “Cheer for the Black ‘n Yellow Hooray!” Our Terrible Towels will be replaced by long scarves and our football jerseys will be tight-fitting and we’ll make our new throwbacks look like the greatest thing to hit football since the forward pass.

Because there isn’t enough violence already at our stadiums on gameday in places like Oakland or Baltimore, we’ll eventually storm the field after our team loses 79-77 (no defense of course) much like the Europeans do after 0-0 draws. One of many drunks will start a fire in section 108 while another idiot will start launching bottle rockets from mid-field.

The police will all stand by and act is if they are doing something to protect the fans but they’ll do nothing. Eventually, fights will consume most sections of the stadiums and then mad rushes will cause the fencing to collapse killing scores of fans.

Yup, there’s the scene that Roger Goodell wants you to ‘experience’ every week in his NFL people.

Tell me Mr. Commissioner, what is wrong with our experiences in your stadiums? Why do you desire what the rest of the world does? If it works for them, great, but it doesn’t work for us. We enjoy music blaring between plays and we like our experiences in the stands. Sure, we can probably do without some of the drunkeness and vulgarity but I’m pretty sure more than a few Irish soccer fans have tipped back a few Guinesses’ prior to game time on the pitch.

Why do you continue to fix what isn’t broken? Yes, player safety is important and helping these players in their post-NFL career is vital but you are KILLING THE GAME as I and millions of others have known it. If I sound a bit ethnocentric about it then I plead guilty but I know what I want from my NFL and having teams in Europe is not part of it. Turning NFL stadiums into ‘soccer crowds’ is not part of it. Having a vuvuzela crammed in my ear is not part of it.

If it sounds like I’m attacking soccer, I apologize. This is not my intent. I realize billions of more people enjoy it than they do American football, but that’s OK with me. You have your game and we have ours.

Stop this nonsense immediately Mr. Commissioner. We like what we have just fine and any of your so-called ‘improvements’ are not welcome. Unless of course you can lower beer prices.

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