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NFL's failure to communicate on game day might be biggest sin of all

The national uproar over the seating problems at Cowboys Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday sort of overshadowed what was actually a bigger issue: A very long wait for the 103,000-plus trying to enter the stadium.

Many people -- including VIPs such as Host Committee president Bill Lively -- endured what could only be described as a nightmarish wait to get inside the security perimeter on game day. Fans described two-hour waits without toilets, food, water -- or explanation.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Sports Business Journal  that the waits were a result of a delay in opening the stadium gates while workers were trying to finish the ill-fated seats. 

It's hard not to use the word "debacle" in this case. Seats weren't finished, even though the NFL and the Cowboys had years of advance notice that they would be needed. Gates didn't open when they were supposed to open. Ice that had collected on the roof days before remained up there on game day. 

And maybe the worst sin of all: The NFL elected not to tell anyone.

In the end, that's the one thing that's hard to get past. The world's media was focused on Arlington, Texas, on game day. Yet, in this age of instant communication, the league decided not to use that media attention to inform people headed for the stadium that entrances were closed, seats weren't finished and security lines were long.

Tens of thousands of fans did what they had been urged to do -- arrived early, expecting the security entrances and outdoor fan plazas to open at noon and the stadium doors to open at 1 p.m. 

The NFL said nothing, leaving Arlington police and security officials to deal with angry, rowdy fans who were, to put it simply, kept in the dark from start to finish.

Later, when it was all over, McCarthy would only say, We thought we'd finish the seats on time.

Although the black eye might be the NFL's, North Texas got punched in the face, too, and a consensus seems to be forming that landing Super Bowl L (that's 50) in five years is now a pipe dream.

But, hey, the TV broadcast went off right on time. Priorities?

-- Kathy Vetter, editor


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