Harlan: NFL said the show must go on

GREEN BAY - Orders for the Packers and Titans to wait out the lengthy weather delay came directly from the league office, Packers President Bob Harlan said late Thursday night.<p>

Harlan said he agreed with the NFL's decision to play the game in its entirety, but he said that the directive was strictly the domain of the league.

"Absolutely," Harlan stated, when asked if the decision was the NFL's alone.

"The league office was concerned about the integrity of the preseason," Harlan said. "We made every attempt to play as long as it didn't affect safety."

With the area under a severe thunderstorm warning during the game, the rains came as promised in the first quarter.

Then the lightning approached from the northwest. In the press box, the phones began to ring and a team of decision-makers quickly gathered.

"We didn't want to wait until the lightning was here before we made a decision," Harlan said.

"(Retired NFL offical) Jerry Seaman, the league observer, is here tonight and he was in contact with New York," Harlan said. "Jerry was in constant contact with the weather bureau and we were very concerned about the lightning."

Police and fire officials joined the effort, agreeing with Harlan that the conditions were too dangerous to continue.

Both Packer coach Mike Sherman and Titans coach Jeff Fisher were consulted, Harlan said.

"They both said 'if you want to call it, call it,' " Harlan said.

Fans waited in the fortunately spacious concourses. By the time the delay ended at 11:01 p.m., about 10,000 remained. They still had enough energy left to roundly boo when the two minute warning was observed after one play, and to cheer when halftime was skipped altogether.

"The fans in the concourse were upset that the game was not being played," Harlan said.

The suspension wiped out the Pop Warner football exhibition at halftime, with an announcement made about an hour into the delay for parents of the kids to please pick them up.

After the ground crew reported that the field was in good shape, the Titans took the field for standard pre-game warmups. The Packers performed their warmup in their lockerroom.

The ultimate source on all matters of unrecorded Packer lore, Executive Director of Public Relations Lee Remmel, reported that this is the first time a game has been suspended and certainly the first time that two games were affected by lightning in the same pre-season campaign.

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