Michael Cohen and Pete Dougherty discuss the issues with the field that caused officials to cancel the Hall of Fame Game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts in Canton, Ohio.
CANTON, Ohio – After their preseason opener was cancelled Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers have no games to show for what is the NFL’s longest-running training camp.
It’s why coach Mike McCarthy was in no rush to amend his team’s schedule after unplayable field conditions wiped out the Packers’ game against the Indianapolis Colts. McCarthy said he expects the Packers will not practice Monday, as previously planned. They are scheduled to practice Tuesday night and Wednesday morning this week.
The Packers were the NFL’s first team to open training camp, holding their first practice July 26. They were granted earlier practices to prepare for Sunday night’s Hall of Fame Game.
Now, the Packers will open their preseason schedule Friday at Lambeau Field against the Cleveland Browns, one day after 12 teams open their schedule.
“You have to adjust,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, I think we all know that. Really just with the unusual flow to training camp, we still have installation practice No. 8 that we’ll hit Tuesday night, and then we’ll shift gears into Cleveland.
“Once we get past Cleveland, we’ll be more into an in-season schedule. It will be a minor adjustment, but we’ll just go with it.”
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McCarthy and president Mark Murphy used the word “disappointing” to describe Sunday’s cancellation. Both had to know it worked out best for their team.
For one, the field at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was hazardous. A hasty paint job melted rubber pellets, creating a hardened field surface dangerous for players wearing cleats.
President Mark Murphy said he learned about the field concerns roughly two hours before the 7 p.m. Central time scheduled kickoff. Both teams noticed the field was in poor shape immediately after commencing pregame warm-ups.
“This is relatively unprecedented,” Murphy said. “I’m not aware of a situation like this in league history, but I’m most disappointed for our fans. They turned out in great numbers, they’ve been here all weekend. I saw some of the estimates that you did, too — 80 to 90 percent of the people here were Packers fans. Really feel bad for them.
“That said, I fully support the decision to cancel the game. I think the league and the Hall of Fame were right — player safety is paramount and any issues with the field where there’s any question that it’s a safety hazard, you can’t play the game. I think the right decision was made.”
McCarthy said “player-safety” concerns canceled Sunday’s game.
“There was a lot of (pregame) conversation,” McCarthy said, “but at the end of the day, you’ve got to make a decision, and the decision was made for player safety. It’s not how you got there, or why you got there. It was the right decision. I give (Hall of Fame president) David Baker a lot of credit for doing the right thing.”
It was easier for the Packers — and the Colts, for that matter — to move on from their disappointment, because Sunday night’s opener was a game neither wanted to play. Understandably, they had no interest risking injury in an extra, fifth preseason game with 30 other NFL teams safely watching from home.
It’s why Joe Callahan, and not Aaron Rodgers, was slated to be the Packers' starting quarterback.
Players on the roster bubble were perhaps the only ones truly disappointed with Sunday’s cancellation. A fifth preseason game would have provided more opportunity to earn a job, whether it’s in Green Bay or elsewhere in the league. Regardless, nobody wanted to be on an unsafe field.
Now, the Packers get more practices in camp without being forced to play the additional preseason game. They will return to Ray Nitschke Field on Tuesday night, carrying with them the memories of a successful, if less eventful than expected, weekend in Canton.
“Player safety is so important now,” Murphy said. “The biggest issue facing the league is concerns about health and safety. When you have something like this come up, I think you have to make sure you do your due diligence and really look at it.
“The decision that the league and the Hall of Fame made, we support it, and I think it was the only decision that could be made.”
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