An unprecedented cancellation of the NFL's annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio has NFL Operations officials on point. According to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, a memo from NFL Operations Executive VP, Troy Vincent, was issued to all 32 NFL teams following the HOF game cancellation on August 6, 2016. —
In the memo, Vincent wrote, “Ultimately I am accountable for ensuring the field is of the highest standard.” In addition, he added, “NFL Operations must demand and expect an extra level of detail in adhering to NFL standards.”
The cancellation was attributed to the logos painted on the center and each end zone of the field. Those areas became hard and slick and could easily be considered dangerous to the players. The cause of this issue is yet undetermined but is under thorough review by NFL Operations.
The artificial turf field of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was transferred from the New Orleans Super Dome after only one season of use, raising the question of the quality of NFL turf throughout the league.
“The safety of the players is of utmost importance,” stated pro athlete strength and conditioning coach, Manning Sumner of Legacy Fit, Miami, FL. “The NFL made the right decision in canceling a game on a field that could very well have put the players at risk.”
NFL Hall of Fame President David Baker told NFL.com, “"We think we could make it playable, that it might be playable now but if there is any concern, anything in the minds of players, we want to err on the side of player safety. 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.”
Plans to replace the field for the 2017 HOF game were in place prior to the cancellation and those plans include the stitching of logos to the turf as opposed to painting the surface.
“The players on both rosters were questioning the conditions during warm-up,” Sumner continued. “At Legacy Fit, I train many NFL players and if there is a chance that they could be hurt because of the field conditions, it's only right to speak up.”
A former NCAA linebacker for Auburn University, Sumner is no stranger to field conditions at a high level of competition. “NFL turf has come a long way since the first days of artificial turf,” Sumner added. “Even real grass or hybrid fields today, like in Green Bay, are equipped with underground heating coils to keep the surface from freezing in an effort to minimize injury due to rock hard ground.”
As a result of the cancellation, NFL Operations are tightening the reins on the requirements for certification for play on NFL fields. The NFL will continue testing each field 48-72 hours prior to game day, allowing stadium officials time to correct any issues. Natural grass fields are inspected following games to ensure any damages are found and can be repaired in a timely manner. Both natural grass and synthetic turf fields are required to meet the standards set by the NFL.
“NFL players are incredibly strong,” Sumner said. “And they are in amazing shape. They train as hard as they do so they can play at the top of their game with minimal risk of injury. I'm happy to know that the NFL is taking the safety of the players so very seriously.”
The NFL Hall of Fame is refunding game tickets in full. Visit: www.profootballhof.com/gamerefund/
For a full schedule of the 2016 NFL preseason and regular season, visit www.nfl.com
To learn more about professional athlete training with Manning Sumner at Legacy Fit Midtown Miami, visit www.legacyfit.com/pro-athlete-training
For a FREE bootcamp class at Legacy Fit Midtown Miami, go to miamifl.legacyfit.com/sign-up-now
Franchise information on Legacy Fit is available at www.legacyfit.com/franchise
**JD Arbuckle is a freelance journalist specializing in consumer education on a variety of topics including the NFL, NCAA Football and physical fitness.
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