By Julian Pecquet - 09/06/12 01:38 AM EDT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Even the die-hard Democrats who attend political conventions left the floor en masse to watch the opening game of the NFL season Wednesday night.
Dozens of delegates and their friends and families swarmed the TV screens in the Time Warner Cable Arena starting around 8:30 p.m. to watch the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys. The NFL moved its opening game to Wednesday to avoid a scheduling conflict with President Obama's acceptance speech Thursday.
“It just so happened to be 8:30 p.m. when we needed a stretch,” chimed in New Jersey delegate Peg Schaffer, who was standing next to Hayes.
“You've got to see the season kick-off,” added Hayes. “And I'm a die-hard Giants fan.” Another TV watcher told a reporter not to include her in a count of people watching the game.
“Don't count me,” she said jokingly, pointing at her young son. “I'm not watching!”
Thaddeus Evans, an arena employee who could see the game at an angle from his spot checking hall passes, said he'd been waiting all day for the game to start.
“I know the president's watching the game,” he said.
While some of those inside watched football, a former NFL great was trying to get into the crowded building.
Pittsburgh Steeler great Franco Harris was among the hundreds stranded outside as security at the arena tightened in anticipation of an expected appearance by President Obama at the convention.
"It's hot but I don't care. I'm fine with standing here, but guess what? Now we're going in," Harris said.
—Geneva Sands contributed to this story.