Hall of Shame Game

During the offseason, I typically will write my Monday morning piece early as there isn't any breaking news to wait for so why procrastinate?  With the Green Bay Packers set to kick off the 2016 NFL season with the first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, I wanted to wait and write about some actual football.  While there was no football to be discussed, I'm still glad I waited.

On Saturday night, Brett Favre was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and gave an incredible speech about his life, family and career.  The iron man who's streak of 297 consecutive games played will likely never be broken, made a living off of always getting back on the field when he was nicked up or hurt.  When the conditions were less-than-ideal, Favre could still be found under center.  So it's ironic that Favre's former team, the Packers, were forced to stay off the field and not play in their scheduled game on Sunday night.

About two hours prior to kick off, it was reported that the Packers and Colts had serious concerns about the playing surface at Tom Benson Hall of Fame stadium.  Some of the paint that was applied to dress up the field was apparently not the correct type and it created a sticky, tar-like substance that posed a danger to the players.  After an hour of deliberating, it was finally decided that the game would be canceled.  The NFL made the final call and cited player safety.  

The NFL has been front and center of the controversy about how much they have done and are doing to keep their players safe.  By cancelling this game, they certainly showed, at least in this instance, that they had the players in mind.  A canceled game leads to ticket refunds, lost concessions and concessions to advertisers.  It's no small loss and the NFL, in this case, made the right decision.

As for the grounds crew at the stadium, someone is probably going to be visiting the boss's office tomorrow morning.  I don't know much about field maintenance, but this game has been scheduled for quite some time.  It's an annual affair and for NFL fans, their first taste of live ball since the Super Bowl.  How could something like this happen?  Back in 2001, a preseason game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens was canceled due to a turf issue at the old Veterans Stadium, the former home of the Eagles.  15 years later, to have a turf issue on an artificial surface like this is beyond baffling.

As I watched the Hall of Fame inductions on Saturday night, I thought to myself how it was impressive that they're able to tear down that set and get the field ready for a game in 24 hours.  Was the rush to get the field ready any to blame for the paint gaffe?  There is something to be said about events that take place at the same venue on consecutive nights.  It can't be easy but it's also not the first time that it's happened.  The grounds crew had one job: make sure the game happens.  They failed and it's an embarrassment to the Hall of Fame and the NFL.

The Packers are no stranger to playing surface concerns.  Last season, Kenny Chesney played a concert at Lambeau Field prior to the preseason amidst concerns about what it might do to the playing surface.  That was in June, nearly two months prior to needing to get the field ready to play a game.  This season, the Wisconsin Badgers will host the LSU Tigers on September 3rd, just over a week prior to week one of the NFL schedule.  The Packers will spend the first two weeks on the road and reports are that the Packers requested that so that the Lambeau Field surface will be in tip-top shape come the home opener against the Detroit Lions on September 25th.

As far as the Packers players and coaches, the loss of this extra preseason game was probably seen as a blessing.  There has been much debate among NFL circles about whether teams need four preseason games to get ready for the regular season.  By being selected to play in this Hall of Fame game, the Packers and Colts would have each played five.  The big concern is losing players to injury in meaningless games.  While we were robbed of an extra chance to see Packers football, there won't be any players lost to injury either.  It's also noteworthy that the last time the Packers played in this game was in 2003 when the game had to end early due to lightning.  

The Hall did what they could to step up.  They refunded the ticket holders and allowed the fans a chance to see and interact with the players.  The Hall of Fame inductees were still announced on the field, as they usually are prior to the start of the game.  While their efforts to scramble and do what they could are commendable, this is just a shameful way to end a spectacular weekend for the league and the Packers.  It will be interesting to see if any additional measures are put in place to avoid this type of debacle in the future.

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (16)

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Amanofthenorth's picture

August 08, 2016 at 05:25 am

Wondering how much the NFL will credit me on my Game Pass account for a missed preseason game

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croatpackfan's picture

August 08, 2016 at 06:06 am

I'm sharing similar thoughts...

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staffordsneckfat's picture

August 08, 2016 at 10:45 am

Croat-man,

Congrats on the Olympic basketball win yesterday.

All the best,
Staffordsneckfat

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croatpackfan's picture

August 08, 2016 at 02:47 pm

Thanks. But USA team is unbeatable!

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dobber's picture

August 08, 2016 at 08:06 am

OTOH, it was an opportunity for young players on the fringe of the roster and new players who were likely to make the team but not play very much to show what they could do. Every snap is a valuable snap for them and for the coaches who are evaluating them. After all, how much playing time did we expect any of the regulars to get in these preseason games?

Still, this probably cost the Packers a small fortune with no return...they still flew their players out there, put them up in hotels, etc. Unless there's some other mechanism to cover these expenses (and I admit to being ignorant of this kind of stuff), that's a chunk of change that's gone.

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staffordsneckfat's picture

August 08, 2016 at 08:49 am

I am not as concerned with the Packers organization recouping the travel expenses for this trip as I am for the fans. The fans are having the face value of their ticket refunded, but as I think all of us who have been to a game know, the ticket is the least of the expenses. Fans should not only get their ticket money back but also the money they spend on hotels, Miller Lites, and Hot Hungarian Sausages.

A guy can dream....

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croatpackfan's picture

August 08, 2016 at 09:11 am

Who will pay my soul pain because I need to wait another few days to be able to watch Packers? That is real pain. I want compesation!

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JerseyAl's picture

August 08, 2016 at 08:06 am

I guess we needed a "Surviving Sunday without Packers football" post yesterday. We just didn't know it...

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BigJimPackFan's picture

August 08, 2016 at 02:25 pm

Who needs preseason games in all pro sports leagues? They're all meaningless anyhoo!

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Cheesestradamus's picture

August 08, 2016 at 09:36 am

I did not program a provision for "Canceled game because of paint" when creating CheesestradamusDOTcom. Back to the drawing boards. Maybe I should program in "Because of incoming asteroid ?" Well we do have Fridays game in four days. (I hope?)

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The TKstinator's picture

August 08, 2016 at 09:55 am

+1 on the "no players lost to injury, but fewer opportunities for fringe players" angle.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 08, 2016 at 12:36 pm

I'm more of the opinion that this is a "win" for everyone but those who paid to travel to the game itself.

1. No Packers get hurt in a FIFTH meaningless preseason game.

2. The NFL brass looks ridiculous. Hopefully it's yet another nail in Goodell's coffin.

3. There are still enough preseason games for the fringe players to show their stuff.

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4thand1's picture

August 08, 2016 at 02:41 pm

The Bear's grounds crew was in charge of the field and paint. Soldier field is always a mess.

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dobber's picture

August 08, 2016 at 02:48 pm

On that note, the Bears lost their starting C to a torn ACL. Maybe their grounds crew hasn't learned their lesson...

http://www.profootballrumors.com/2016/08/bears-c-hroniss-grasu-tears-acl

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Since'61's picture

August 08, 2016 at 05:12 pm

I'd be fine if every exhibition game had the same result. I agree completely that there is no need to have players injured in meaningless games. The league should increase the number of preseason practices and replace the games with scrimmages. That would achieve the same purpose for player evaluations and result in less unnecessary injuries. Going into preseason most teams know who 45-50 of their 53 man roster will be. It's just a matter of evaluating rookies and identifying the PS players and that's mostly decided before the first pre-season games with maybe one or two surprises at most. Finally, a good call by the NFL. Thanks, Since '61

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Lphill's picture

August 08, 2016 at 06:30 pm

I was there with my son , they allowed the stands to fill up knowing there was no game , they continued to sell beer and food as well as souvenirs , we started getting texts from friends in NY asking us why was the game cancelled , we still did not know , no players on the field just the Colts cheerleaders , then mysteriously our phones had no service . After everyone was in they made the announcement .it was all about the money . Don't even know if we are getting a refund.

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