It’s unfair to ask Chiefs or Rams players to play on unsafe field
By Matt Conner
No one should pressure the Chiefs or Rams players to suit up and play on Monday Night Football if the ground at Aztec Stadium is not suitable.
Whoever is grumbling has the right idea.
ESPN analyst Adam Schefter is reporting that some players are complaining about the state of the playing surface in Aztec Stadium in Mexico City, the very site that is supposed to host the single biggest showdown of the NFL season in just six days on Monday Night Football—a primetime matchup between the NFC leading L.A. Rams and the AFC leading Kansas City Chiefs.
Whoever is leaking such information has the right idea. No player should have to take the field without being assured that everything involved with the game is in working order—a notion that certainly includes the status of the field.
Every player must have a specific uniform on before entering the field of play, and that includes a head-to-toe checklist from helmet to pads to shoes. There are security guards to keep fans off of the field for security reasons, and people to search their bags/belongings as they enter the stadium.
How could the NFL be okay with so many measures in place to protect the player while leaving the actually playing surface in such a shoddy state? The answer is they cannot. No player would ever be reasonably expected to play if a team forgot all of their helmets for example. Not a single fan would (or should, at least) say, “Go ahead and play. You’ll be fine without the helmet.”
Every fan base has seen the devastating toll taken by ACL tears and Achilles injuries. We’ve all witnessed players pull up with hamstring issues and sprained ankles. These all happen on meticulously maintained fields with trained crews of groundskeepers who work week after week all year long to make sure they are NFL ready. If Mexico City isn’t ready for the Chiefs and Rams, then it’s up to the NFL to either find a site that can be certain in its readiness or to allow players to sit (without suffering financial ramifications).
For a league that is supposedly worried about player safety more than ever, this is a litmus test for Roger Goodell and company to do the right thing and move the game or allow players the choice to do what they want without repercussions.