Since Gretz is a season-ticket holder, he’s going to take a look at the debauchery and insanity that takes place in the Heinz Field stands after every home game he attends.
Complaining about Roger Goodell is the favorite pastime for NFL fans and players (past and present).
Whether it’s rule changes or player discipline, people love to piss and moan about how the commissioner ruining their favorite sport. The latest outrage: The NFL’s new bag policy that bans pretty much everything except a clear plastic bag that makes all of the contents visible to anybody that cares to sneak a peak.
While waiting to enter Heinz Field on Saturday night for the Steelers’ exhibition opener against the New York Giants, and as the guy in a Terry Bradshaw jersey next to me screamed at a security guard because his binocular case was on the list of banned items, I came to the following conclusion: Either Goodell isn’t the bogeyman football fans like to make him out to be and his changes will not lead to the inevitable downfall of the league, or football fans are mindless sheep that are brainwashed to continue flocking to stadiums and television sets no matter what he does.
The way I see it, these are the only two options.
I’m not saying the new bag policy has any sort of sane, sensible rationale to it (because for the most part, it doesn’t), but do you really need to pack the kitchen sink in your duffel bag to go to a football game for a few hours? You really weren’t allowed to take anything into the stadium anyway, and it’s not like you’re going to be there all that long. The only people I can see having a legitimate gripe about this (and it is a legit gripe) are women that really don’t want to advertise to section 234 that it’s that time of the month because their unmentionables are sitting exposed in a clear plastic bag (I’m not an expert on these things, so I don’t know if they’ll fit in the clutch bags that are still allowed in).
I walked into the game on Saturday completely empty-handed with everything I needed for the night in my wallet. And you know what? It was no different than every other game I’ve ever been to. My initial complaint was the ban on seat cushions, simply because our seats are on bleachers and those things get cold and wet in December, but even that is manageable as you’re still allowed to carry in blankets to sit on when it gets to that point in the season.
Every generation thinks the generation that follows them is softer and weaker than theirs, so you’re always going to have people like Greg Lloyd bitching about how the NFL isn’t “real football” anymore because Roger Goodell tried to limit hits to the head or made an effort to protect quarterbacks (what do you think somebody like Sammy Baugh thought of Greg Lloyd’s generation?).
So I’m over the “softening the game” stuff, and frankly, I don’t think the bag stuff is that big of a deal either.
I will say this: If you have tickets to a game this season make sure you leave yourself plenty of time when arriving at the stadium. If you’ve been to Heinz Field and entered through the main entrance, just below the scoreboard, you were probably used to a big open space that fans could gather in and choose which turnstile they wanted to enter in based on the length of the line. It was great because when everybody would always stop at the first turnstile I could always go down the line to find one that was empty.
That is now gone.
In its place is a giant fenced in area that essentially herds in fans like cattle (this is where Terry Bradshaw guy was all jammed up about his binocular case) so they can go through the metal detectors. It creates some lengthy lines and it takes some time to get through, especially when the people in front of you ignore the repeated calls to “please make sure your pockets are empty when you reach the front”). It also limits the flow of the area and turns it into one giant traffic jam. We went in two hours before kickoff and it was pretty backed up. It’s hard to even comprehend what it would be like at 12:45 before the season opener.
* The Steelers have a drumline this year. They sit in the one corner of the open end zone, just above the lower level of seats, and they play randomly throughout the game during stoppages. When they played for the first time the guy next to me said it’s only a matter of time until they have cheerleaders.
* Before the game started they played a new Steelers P.R.I.D.E. video on the scoreboard that was supposed to educate fans on how to behave during the game. It seemed to be staged in the 1950s and was filmed in black and white. It also looked like it was created in a high school Audio Visual class. My initial reaction was simply “what the F— is this?” (Seriously, that’s what I said). My brother, who was sitting across the stadium in different seats, echoed that sentiment.
On the other hand, it was still better than the Pittsburgh Dad video they played last year.
And can I make a confession? I feel like I have to do this. But I’m to the point where Pittsburgh Dad annoys the shit out of me. It was funny for like 15 episodes but has quickly worn out its welcome.
* I’m not going to try and take anything away from the first exhibition game in terms of who was good and who wasn’t, but I will say that my favorite play of the game was Landry Jones running into Baron Batch on his first snap and fumbling in the end zone. If you could use one play to illustrate the absurdity of preseason football, it would be that play.
* Finally, on my way out of the stadium I saw this Jonathan Dwyer fan who decided he needed to buy a custom jersey to specify which Dwyer on the roster he was supporting.