It was in the spring, just after the last regularly scheduled Thursday matinee TV game-of-the-week and right before the ballyhoo began for the midsummer twi-night intrasquad rookie games, when the situation was initially called to the attention of the commissioner. At first, of course, he was 10th to accept the figures, but after carefully reexamining them and consulting with Joe Kuharich, he knew he could no longer question the obvious conclusions.
"The second generation," the commissioner said, whirling in his swivel chair. "Who would have thought? It snuck up on us. It seems like just yesterday...."
"I know," the network man said, lapsing into a bit of reverie himself. "Why I can still remember so clearly the day the Colts came into the NFL. It was Channel 2, fuzzy at first, then a little trouble with the horizontal, then just so clear. What a day. And, oh, the time we laid the coaxial cable into Green Bay and brought the first Turkey Day classic from Detroit. What this generation has gone through with us! What golden memories."
"You don't forget people like that easily," the commissioner said, brushing a small tear away. "What a generation it has been."
"What a generation," the network man repeated. Then he took a step toward the commissioner and placed a hand firmly on his shoulder. "I want you to know that we all understand that this sort of thing is hardest for you."
"The buck stops here," the commissioner said stoutly, rapping the Kiwanis Club Man-of-the-Year goalposts that were on his desk. "I know, though, that someone always gets stuck with the tough jobs. But then, let's face it. This sort of thing, and having lunch with you five times a week to work up the schedules—well, that's why they pay me $725,000 a year."
"Not to drag myself into it," the network man said, unconsciously grasping the commissioner's shoulder a little harder, "but this is somewhat reminiscent of my position last year, vis-�-vis the time we decided to televise the Wednesday morning early bird games. I was the guy who had to make the announcement that we were knocking the Spanish lessons and the Pastor's Study right out of the television box. And this was Lent, you will remember, which made a helluva additional note. Somebody had to tell the preacher that the 6:30 interdenominational devotionals were kaput, and I was the fella. So I know what's weighing on your mind...and your heart."
"Thank you," the commissioner said, swirling his chair in a casual manner that successfully removed him from the painful shoulder grip, "you're a warm and savvy guy. But enough reminiscing. We have to face the present, as hard as it is. Who would have thought the NFL ever would have a fan crisis?"
"It caught us all by surprise,"
"Well, I think we're doing something about it in time, so come on, let's go to the meeting now."