There are some things that will always be true about football, no matter how much the NFL tinkers with the rules: four quarters in a game, 10 yards for a first down and 100 yards from one end zone to the other.
Actually, scratch that last one.
Thursday’s preseason contest between the Oakland Raiders and the Green Bay Packers already had the distinction of being played in Canada, but just before kickoff, the game became even more unique when the decision was made to play on an 80-yard field.
— Lily Zhao (@LilySZhao) August 23, 2019
The decision was necessitated by one of the key differences between the Canadian Football League and the NFL: In the CFL, the goal posts are located in the front of the end zone, rather than behind it and off of the field of play like in the NFL.
CFL puts their goal posts in the middle of the end zone. This caused turf issues, so in order to not have to play on that turf they shortened the field to not include the CLF end zones. pic.twitter.com/nry2jCiV1V
— Brian (@Butterz67) August 23, 2019
The goal posts at IG Field in Winnipeg were moved to the back of the end zones, but problems arose when patching the hole this left in the end zone turf.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) August 22, 2019
The NFL was left with little choice and released a statement shortly before game time announcing the shortened field.
“Tonight’s game is being played on a reconfigured field,” the league said, according to ESPN.
“The field met the mandatory practices for the maintenance of surfaces for NFL games based on an inspection yesterday. Concerns arose today surrounding the area where the Blue Bombers’ goalposts were previously located. The 10-yard line will function as the goal line at this game. In lieu of kickoffs, the ball will be placed at the 15-yard line.”
‘We were going to have all of our starters play,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said after the game. “We certainly have all played on much worse surfaces in our life, but it was just one of those deals where they weren’t playing their starters, and so we just decided to sit them.”
Rodgers, who has been dealing with a sore back, told a slightly different story, saying “it’s more the field conditions that we had tonight” when asked why he didn’t play.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden was more positive about the field, telling reporters: “I’m not going to make a big deal about the field. We liked the field.”
“We thought the field was perfectly ready to roll. You’ll have to ask GB about that. Didn’t affect our play-calling or our evaluations,” he said.
Attendance for the strange game was somewhat sparse, with 21,992 being the announced total, according to Canadian Press. One local media member gloated that the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers average a higher attendance number in the same stadium.
All 5 of the Bombers regular season home games this year have drawn at least 2,195 more fans than tonight’s Raiders/Packers game, and the average attendance is over 3,000 more.
— Brian Swane (@BrianSwane) August 23, 2019
Surprisingly, this was not the first NFL game played on an 80-yard field.
According to ESPN, a 1932 playoff contest between the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans was played indoors on an 80-yard field because of inclement weather.
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