As the saying goes (I think), wisdom often never arrives at all, it’s better that it show up late.
For the NFL, it wasn’t wisdom so much as it was desperation that forced the league to pull the plug on Monday night’s Chiefs-Rams game Mexico City. The field had disintegrated to somewhere between prison yard and post-apocalyptic, and there was no amount of emergency sodding that was going to make it suitable for NFL football by Monday night.
So here’s the question that may never be answered: Why did it come so close to happening? The concert that tore up the turf occurred on October 11, more than a month before the plug was pulled. What did the league think would occur between then and now to allow the field to meet the NFL’s standards?
Although the NFL avoided the ultimate embarrassment of insisting on playing the game and having players refuse to play at all, the fact that the league had to throw in the towel on the Mexico City game only six days before playing it is embarrassing enough.
Whatever the explanation, it’s hard to understand why efforts weren’t immediately undertaken to assess the situation and to remedy it. It’s impossible to understand why the rip cord wasn’t pulled until six days before the game.
The explanation could be simple. Whoever was in charge of the game (Mark Waller oversees the league’s international operation) possibly knew what was coming and opted to delay the inevitable awkward meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell, who undoubtedly blew his stack when he’d found out that the league had blown its now-annual Mexican excursion.
Then again, there’s a chance the NFL had an inkling that things could go sideways this year. Why else would the Rams and Chiefs have a bye over Thanksgiving, a weekend during which the playing of three games on Thursday will leave only 10 in the early- and late-afternoon broadcast windows? Maybe the league gave the Rams and Chiefs a post-Mexico bye to account for the possibility that the decision to not play in Mexico would come at a time when it was too late to reschedule it in L.A. for the same day, forcing the game to be played in L.A. the following Sunday or Monday.