Regardless of how the NFL resolves the question of whether to proceed with Monday night’s game of the year in Mexico City, the league has yet another mess of its own making.
Here we are, six days before the Chiefs and Rams will meet in Mexico, and the league engaged in no obvious proactive effort to solve the problem until the pot reached a full, raging boil.
The turf at Aztec Stadium remains a “mess,” but the NFL is “determined” to play the game, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
It’s easy to envision a series of hectic meetings and frazzled conference calls during which a variety of arguments are made and considerations are balanced. Here’s hoping that the only factors that ultimately matters are: (1) the safety of the players; and (2) the integrity of the game.
Remember the second one? That was the cover the NFL used to justify whacking the Patriots over a trivial football-inflation issue under a standard that had been on the books for so long that no one knew why it was even there. Taking a little air out of the ball to make it easier to throw (the NFL failed to prove that this ever happened) and thus making the game better is a far cry from forcing two of the best offenses in the NFL to play on a field that looks like the vacant lot in every neighborhood where a house was torn down and a smattering of grass, weeds, rocks, and dirt is now in its place.
Instead, other concerns will drive the decision, from legal claims made by fans who incurred travel plans in reliance on the game being played in Mexico (there will be liability, and the NFL should do the right thing and provide fair refunds) to potentially alienating Mexican officials who could kill future NFL games there to possibly undermining the league’s effort to squeeze as much money as possible out of international wallets. Those concerns should be secondary to the safety of the players and the integrity of the game.
But we know they won’t be. Because in too many past instances, they haven’t been.