We’re under two hours away from the scheduled start of the 2016 preseason in the Hall of Fame game between the Colts and the Packers, but right now the status of the game is very much uncertain.
That’s because the condition of the field in Canton pretty much sucks. There are rubber pellets all over the field, and perhaps the biggest concern is that at midfield near the logo, the turf is melted to the point where a cleat could easily get stuck. Obviously, that’s a major red flag for player safety.
Field Turf melted on parts of logo, it's like rubber, big concern cleats will stick there, major player safety issue pic.twitter.com/VT6Y1UcYR1— Pete Dougherty (@PeteDougherty) August 7, 2016
There are large chunks of this field that are nothing but rubber pellets right now. pic.twitter.com/Zp8YpHqygl— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 7, 2016
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, players think the surface is as hard as concrete in some areas and is unsafe to play on. NFL Network’s Michael Silver says there is “not a lot of optimism” that the game will be played and added that a coach described the situation as a “disaster.” Schefter said on ESPN tonight that it is “doubtful at best” that the game will be played, and he tweeted that both organizations are “very concerned” and that there are “real questions” about whether the game will be played.
At midfield, Hall of Fame executives, as well as members from the Colts and Packers (including Colts general manager Ryan Grigson) had a long meeting discussing the field and the playability of it. According to CBS4’s Mike Chappell, Grigson wasn’t too happy about it.
Football is back. But there is a lot of concern about the playability of the turf in Canton. pic.twitter.com/RUuF0S1uOB— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 7, 2016
Will they play? Pregame powwow in Canton over turf playability. pic.twitter.com/A8j8xkCu74— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) August 7, 2016
Players have been asked to leave the field, so the field is clear just 90 minutes before kickoff - a rarity.
They may not have a game here tonight. They just asked all players to leave the field. Bad conditions on the turf. pic.twitter.com/zGP0jFsVHQ— Michael Grady (@Grady) August 7, 2016
There is honestly zero reason to play the game tonight at the Hall of Fame stadium, considering the field conditions. It’s a meaningless extra preseason game for both teams, and both the Colts and the Packers would still have four games left if the game were cancelled. There is precedent for preseason games being cancelled due to turf issues, though it’s rare. The Hall of Fame Stadium field was already bad - Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham blamed it for ending his career last year - and tonight it’s much, much worse. If I’m either team’s general manager or head coach, there’s no reason I’m sending my players out there for an extra fifth preseason game given the field conditions.
Stay tuned as we monitor the situation.