What an odd night. ESPN and the NFL had the hype train going for the Hall of Fame Game. The Colts had two Hall of Famers and the Packers had one, it would have been an entertaining game, probably.
And then it didn't happen.
Reports began surfacing about two hours before game time that the field may not be safe. As more reports emerged it became apparent that the game likely wouldn't happen. While the official announcement didn't happen for about 30 minutes, it was telling when Ryan Grigson, Chuck Pagano, Mike McCarthy, and Ted Thompson and others had a meeting with HoF officials, and then both teams exited the field.
The game was cancelled.
The teams and players still hung around and signed some autographs for fans. For anyone who has lived in Wisconsin, it had the feeling (to me) of the Packers Family Night game, where the team practices in front of a sold out stadium, then gives out some prizes via a raffle at the end.
In other words, it wasn't what we all expected.
Let's get to some awards, though.
MVP - The NFL
Full disclosure, the NFL will be my LVP on this post too, but more on that later. Once it became apparent that the field wouldn't be playable, it became a question if the NFL would continue the game, or cancel in the name of player safety.
They did the right thing. Canceling the game was 100% the right call. An unsafe field (it did look really bad on video and pictures I saw) coupled with the fact that this was an extra game for the Colts and Packers really gave the game no incentive to be played.
Having the players come back onto the field for what ESPN coined a "fan fest" was a good idea as well. Reports that fans tickets will be reimbursed is obviously a good move as well (although this may come through the HoF itself...I'm not sure).
First Impression Award - Randy Moss
I'm not sure how I feel about the new Monday Night Countdown crew. But I enjoyed watching Randy Moss on Fox Sports 1, and I think he'll be fun on ESPN as well. Moss doesn't seem to have the filter that some broadcasters do, which is great.
In his first take on Sunday's pre-game show, Moss called for someone to be fired due to the field conditions. He isn't wrong, but I thought it was hilarious that it was the first thing he said on ESPN.
Fun Moment - Hall of Famers
There were some cool moments with the Hall of Famers, even without the game being played. There were some great shots of Brett Favre talking with Aaron Rodgers and McCarthy on the field. Tony Dungy was throwing some passes around, and Andrew Luck played catch with one of Dungy's kids.
Most Entertaining Award - Blue and the ESPN cast
There was a moment which made the rounds on the Internet, primarily in Vine form, last night. Blue hopped onto the ESPN set during an interview with Rodgers. The Colts mascot placed a bobblehead (of himself) on the table next to Redgers. Charles Woodson then hit the bobblehead off the table saying to Rodgers "We Packers." And it is worth noting that Blue gave Rodgers a bear hug and either kissed or tried to eat him (not sure which).
And then there was the comment made during the Robert Mathis interview, which Josh noted in an article. Mathis commented that he would retire when Luck wins him a Super Bowl; to which Lisa Salters replied that he might be waiting a while. So much shade.
LVP - The NFL
Frankly this was an embarrassment for the league. How do you not have a field ready to play? I know this primarily resulted from a mistake with the paint. However, I read some reports that said there was some concern with the field before that. How does this happen?
And then there is the issue of the fans. While the "Fan Fest" and ticket reimbursement was a good idea, that doesn't take care of everything. Fans would have paid for hotels, probably airfare as well, to see a game that didn't happen. While I think meeting and greeting some players would be fun, but if I bought tickets to a pre-season game, I want to see football. Even if it is the Hall of Fame game.
In a nutshell, the NFL really dropped the ball.