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Seeking a little peace and quiet

Holmgren complains to NFL about Metrodome noise

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Posted: Thursday December 03, 1998 03:21 PM

  Holmgren (left) wants to bring down the noise in Minnesota AP

GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (AP) -- First, it was "coin-gate." Now, it's "speaker-gate."

Complaints by Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren about the noise at the Minneapolis Metrodome could lead to a decibel decrease at the Minnesota Vikings' home games.

In a letter to the NFL, Holmgren deplored the huge speakers near the visitors' bench and referee Phil Luckett's refusal to quiet the crowd in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 28-14 loss at Minnesota two weeks ago.

Holmgren said the league notified him this week that it is looking into the speaker situation and agreed that Luckett -- who also was at the center of the "coin-gate" flap on Thanksgiving Day -- should have acted on the Packers' plea.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to reveal what the NFL had to say to Holmgren about Luckett, but he did confirm that the league is investigating the speakers, which were near Green Bay's bench and facing the field.

"I don't think we've told them to remove them. We may tell them to reposition them so there would be less noise coming into the bench area," Aiello said.

Holmgren, whose Packers (8-4) trail the Vikings by three games in the NFC Central race, said the sideline speakers suggested something sinister.

"There was a certain intent there, I think," Holmgren said. "Now, I might be wrong, but I think."

Rand Gottlieb, Vikings vice president of business operations, said there was an innocent explanation, adding: "I guess I'm off Mike Holmgren's Christmas card list."

Gottlieb said the Vikings always have four speakers on the sidelines, one near each corner, for the cheerleaders to use. They cannot adequately stay in step with the stadium music by listening to the stadium speakers, he said.

In the Green Bay game, the speakers on that sideline had to be moved because FOX set up the set for its pregame show near the Green Bay bench.

"The FOX people asked us to move one bank of speakers that would normally feed the cheerleaders on that side of the field, because they were afraid the speakers were going to bleed into their microphones," Gottlieb said.

The Packers complained about the noise in the opening minute of the game, "so we moved them," Gottlieb said. "After that, they never complained about those for the rest of the game. So it's a little surprising to hear the quotes coming out of Green Bay because I don't think the speakers had anything to do with anything."

Gottlieb, who said the league had not contacted the Vikings about the speakers, said the club always abides by the league mandate that all stadium noise must stop when the offensive team breaks its huddle.

Packers kicker Ryan Longwell said one speaker was so close to the kicking net that he felt afterward as though he'd attended a rock concert.

"It was kind of that sound where everything just kind of sounds muffled in the evening," Longwell said. "My ears were ringing when I left and I've never left the stadium with my ears ringing."

Both teams agreed the Metrodome was unusually loud that day.

"When your center can't hear the quarterback, that's pretty loud," tight end Mark Chmura said.

"Yeah, the crowd was loud," Gottlieb said. "It was about as loud as I've ever heard it in there. The 64,000-plus were going crazy. I'm sure they disrupted the Packers. Isn't that what they call home-field advantage?"

"It's a loud place," Holmgren agreed. "But it was REALLY loud. In my feeling, it was extra loud because of those speakers."

Holmgren also said the league agreed that Luckett should have asked the crowd to quiet down, as required by the rules, when quarterback Brett Favre backed away from center, saying he couldn't hear during a crucial late drive.

Already, the team had been whistled for five pre-snap penalties. After Luckett told him to go ahead and play, there was another flag on the very next play.

"There has to be little communication between the team and the referee," Holmgren said. "If we say we can't hear after we've jumped offsides seven times or whatever, probably we can't hear. I'm not trying to pull a fast one, you know? And then on the play that we request, if we jump offsides again?"

Gottlieb said there are no immediate changes planned with the speakers until the playoffs, when the Vikings and Packers could very well meet again.

"We will have to move then," Gottlieb said. "At least now we know where to move them so we aren't bothering anybody."

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