The NFL Hall of Fame Game was cancelled on Sunday due to horrific Canton turf (pictures here), which is bad enough. Now comes word from Hall of Fame president David Baker, who revealed the field is brand new, adding more confusion to the entire situation.
“This is a brand-new field,” he said on ESPN’s live broadcast (h/t Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith). “It passed the test when it was first installed, it passed the test this morning when the cover came off from the enshrinement, but apparently as a result of painting some things at the midfield and the end zone, the paint congealed.”
Based on the fact that there were portions of the field that were covered by nothing more than pieces of rubber, this was more than just a paint malfunction.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and others reported players as saying there were portions of the field as hard as concrete. Needless to say, players, coaches and top brass from both the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts were not keen on playing on such a surface.
“We thought we would be able to remediate it by delaying the game for as much as an hour,” Baker said. “But in the end, if it’s remotely close to unsafe, we conferred with the league, we think the best thing to do is respect the safety of the players. It’s the only thing to do.”
On that count Baker is absolutely correct.
In addition to the concrete-like hardness found on portions of the field, the mid-field logo was reportedly as tacky as taffy.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 8, 2016
Baker called the decision to shut down the game “very, very difficult,” and when you consider it cost the HOF around $4 million it’s easy to understand why it was so difficult for him to make the call.
But the fact he had to make the call at all is absolutely mind-boggling.
In the end, perhaps this is just one more sign that the Hall of Fame Game just needs to be abandoned. The two teams that play it every year are subject to an extra exhibition game, and there are already too many of those.