Pretty much everyone on Twitter on Sunday night agreed that it was embarrassing for the NFL that the Hall of Fame game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts had to be canceled because of field conditions.
While there was a report that the wrong paint was used on the field, a league source says it was more of a timing issue.
According to the source, the field was painted five weeks ago and then the Teraplast squares – the 4-foot by 4-foot molded plastic pieces used to cover fields for events like concerts or a Hall of Fame induction ceremony – were placed before the paint was completely dry. Because of that, the grass fibers stuck together and hardened, causing the problem.
The source said workers used the grooming equipment to remedy the problem, but it did not help.
However, the source added, the field underwent g-max testing, and passed, meaning it technically was playable. G-max testing is an impact test that measures shock attenuation, or how much impact players’ bodies will absorb when they fall; the harder a surface is, the more impact a player’s body would absorb.
As workers scrambled to make the surface playable and break down the hardened paint, they apparently sprayed a substance that appeared to be paint thinner. NFL Network’s Michael Silver wrote on Sunday night that, according to a Packers source, a team employee noticed a label on the substance that warned of severe burns if it got on skin. The employee took a photo of the label and showed it to others after the Packers and Colts returned to their locker rooms.
David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, told NFL Network that the field passed the test, but player and team concerns led to the game’s cancellation.
“This is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You’ve heard me many, many times talk about our values of commitment, integrity, courage, respect, and excellence,” Baker said. “If we don’t have that integrity to respect our players and respect their safety, then we shouldn’t be doing this job. It was a difficult decision to make…But in some respects, it was an easy, ethical decision.
“When the field was put down – this was a brand-new field that had only been used one year at the Superdome in New Orleans – when it came here, it passed the safety tests. This morning when the cover was taken off, it passed the safety tests then. But I think the concerns were really about the painting and the rubberized surface.”
Citing a Hall of Fame source, Steve Wyche of NFL Network reported that the field at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium will be replaced again before next year’s game, and that the logos will be stitched into the fibers, preventing any future painting issues.
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