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Roger Goodell hears suggestions in Q&A with NFL fans

NEW YORK -- NFL fans want cheaper tickets for preseason games and an end to blackouts. They want to be online at the game. Fans up North are looking for more cold-weather Super Bowls, and maybe even a chance to host the draft.

Got all that, Roger Goodell?

The NFL commissioner heard all those suggestions and more during an hour-long session with fans from all 32 teams before the regular-season opener Wednesday with the New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys.

The fans, winners of contests that earned them a trip to league headquarters, were decked out in jerseys and team hats for the occasion. They asked repeatedly about a range of issues tied to their experiences at the game.

Among the topics that came up:

  • Cheaper tickets for preseason games, when starters sit. Goodell said preseason is a big issue among fans, noting "I hear that almost No. 1.

"I think it's probably fair to say people probably are not fans of the preseason," he said.

Goodell said the league has discussed eliminating two preseason games entirely. "I would tell you that we're anywhere from a 16-and-2 format to an 18-and-2 format, so pretty much everything is on the drawing board," he said.

A Philadelphia Eagles fan railed against the cost of attending a game -- which Goodell doesn't control, teams do -- and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan won applause by asking why the league doesn't dump the "archaic" local blackout system for games that fail to sell out. Goodell noted blackouts are far less frequent than they used to be and that tickets sales are important to the clubs.

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"Are you giving up on the fact that the Browns are going to make it to the Super Bowl?" Goodell joked as the crowd hooted. Goodell said he wants to see how the game goes at the end of next season, but didn't rule out a cold-weather Super Bowl.

"I'm a big believer that football's all about tradition, and we've played some of the most historical games in our history in bad weather," he said. "So let's see how it works. But the big challenge I can tell you for Super Bowls is the infrastructure required. It's really about can you handle 25-30,000 hotel rooms?"

  • A Cincinnati Bengals fan later suggested moving the site of the NFL draft around to various cities. Goodell indicated the league is happy with New York as the home of the draft but there had been discussion about moving the second night to a different place.
  • In an answer to a question about the NFL's social media plans, Goodell said that's a key component of improving the fan experience on game days. "A lot of times we ask the fans to disconnect when we come into the stadium because there's 75,000 people and you don't have the broadband capacity for it," he said. "So we're trying to solve that problem and get Wi-Fi into our stadiums."

Noting the expense of tickets, Goodell said, "for you to come to the stadium, we can't give you any reasons not to come."

  • Goodell also got a rules change suggestion from "Bronco Bob" Disher, of Castle Rock, Colo., who said that, with all the touchbacks these days, why not award a point to a team if its kicker puts the ball through the uprights from 70 yards away on a kickoff? Or, Disher said, maybe the receiving team could start at the 10-yard line instead of the 20 in such a situation.

"I'll put it to the competition committee," Goodell said.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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