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Circus atmosphere outside marquee NFL draft event

April 22, 2010 |  2:09 pm

For the first time, the NFL has moved the draft to prime time and will stage only the opening round Thursday night. Lined up outside Radio City Music Hall are hundreds of fans, virtually all of them wearing the jerseys of their various teams.

On the side of the street closest to the theater are fans who waited in line more than six hours Wednesday to get wristbands for priority seating. That prompted a singsong taunt  between the groups, with one side chanting, “We’ve got wristbands!” And the other side responding, “We’ve got jobs!”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spent a long time working his way down the line, signing autographs for fans who seemed downright delirious to meet him. They started a chant of “Dis-ci-pline! Dis-ci-pline!” in reference to the Ben Roethlisberger case.

Goodell said the general fan reaction to the six-game suspension for bad behavior off the field has been “very positive that we don’t accept that kind of behavior and we’re making sure that the players understand the standards that we expect and they expect, and I think they’re gratified that we’re enforcing that.”

As for the new draft format, Goodell said he’s pleased with what he’s seen so far. “It seems like there’s more of a buildup, there’s more drama, there’s more interest,” he said. “It’s been building all week, and building all day today. I think people are really excited about the prime-time aspect of it.”

-- Sam Farmer, reporting from New York City
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