The NFL’s never been one to let hazardous field conditions interfere with its unstoppable corporate machine. How would you explain Dan Snyder’s Maryland mud pit or the carpet literally coming up in Houston? So you know things must be bad at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca if the league decided a Week 11 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams couldn’t be played there because the field’s in such terrible shape. On Tuesday morning Youth Derrick Shelby Jersey
, the field conditions were considered a “significant concern,” according to Adam Schefter. And just a few hours later, the NFL pulled the plug on its game in Mexico.“We have worked extensively with our partners at Estadio Azteca for months in preparation for this game,” NFL executive vice president of international Mark Waller said in the statement. “Until very recently, we had no major concerns. But, the combination of a difficult rainy season and a heavy multi-event calendar of events at the stadium, have resulted in significant damage to the field presents unnecessary risks to player safety and makes it unsuitable to host an NFL game.”Where will the Chiefs vs. Rams game happen instead of Mexico City? The game will be a traditional home game instead for the Rams back in Los Angeles at the Coliseum. Well, maybe not that traditional. It remains to be seen if the fans in Los Angeles will be able to fill up the stadium on a weeknight with less than a week’s notice.There’s another reason Los Angeles was the backup option for the game — rules! The late swap is still a little unexpected, as the NFL was determined to play in Mexico all the way up until its Tuesday decision. “We are working closely with the field manager at Azteca Stadium and others to ensure that we have an NFL-quality surface for our game, and we are looking forward to kicking off in Mexico City on Monday night,” league spokesperson Brian McCarthy told ESPN earlier on Tuesday. What about the players? They were NOT happy about it. And why should they have been? Those kind of field conditions are an injury waiting to happen. There were even rumblings that the players might not play. Players were reportedly concerned that the league will resod the field to no effect. The concern Stitched Wes Schweitzer Jersey
, according to Charles Robinson at Yahoo, was the sod won’t have time to settle, leaving the surface loose and still dangerous. A few players wanted a union inspection of the field to assure it’s safe to play on. What exactly was wrong with the field at Estadio Azteca? Oh, buddy. It’s bad. Real bad. Bad enough to made FedEx Field look like a bucolic pasture somewhere in the wilds of Scotland. Check this out. Let’s get a shot from the air just for effect. Here’s a more recent shot of the field. They’re laying sod on the field on Tuesday, but that wasn’t enough to keep the game on schedule:A concert at the field on Nov. 7 did significant damage to the playing surface. This isn’t the first time the field’s been a problem this year. A Shakira concert in October tore up the field too. Reports in the wake of that show said the damage may be irreversible. The problem stems mostly from ripping out the natural grass field and replacing it with a hybrid turf earlier this year. That process wasn’t finished until three days before the stadium went into use, heavy use, and that, combined with bad weather, has left the playing surface in tatters. Why do field conditions matter? Simple — shitty field conditions mean more player injuries. The league and the players union had one of their rare come together moments over the issue in 2016. After a rash of injuries directly and indirectly attributed to the physical locations where teams play, the two sides set up a joint committee on the issue during the offseason that year. Less than a month later, they canceled the preseason Hall of Fame game when the field there literally MELTED after a concert the night before. The NFL made the right call pulling the plug on Mexico City. Looking at the state of the field Youth Wes Schweitzer Jersey
, it was hard to see how the league could justify doing anything else.The Falcoholic Mixtape: A quarter-by-quarter playlist for Falcons vs. Panthers Sports and music share many common denominators. Flow, pacing, tempo, mood — you see it on the football field and hear it when you pop in your headphones. For this season we’re trying something a bit different, putting together a quarter-by-quarter playlist for each and every game. One that attempts to capture what we saw on the field — a sonic memento, if you will. At season’s end all of these songs will be compiled into a Spotify playlist available for download. Let’s hope for a great year, otherwise this whole thing is going to be a massive downer. A bit of a disclaimer: I have to restrain myself from time to time from going on profanity-laden tirades on The Falcoholic, as SB Nation’s standards prevent me from doing so. These artists aren’t constrained by those same tethers, so keep that in mind before throwing this on in the car with the kiddos or stodgy in-laws.Pregame: Big Boi – ShutterbuggWhat better way to herald in the home opener than with Sir Lucious Left Foot himself? Coming off a week that belongs more in a garbage can than our memories, the cameras were out in force at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, capturing the Falcons’ first win of the season. It really was risky business in the A Stitched Blidi Wreh-Wilson Jersey
, as we prepared for how the defense would respond after the injuries to Keanu Neal and Deion Jones. The unit made plays when it needed to, but the overriding story is the offense that moved down the field for the majority of this one. 31-24, good guys. Here’s Week 2 of The Falcoholic Mixtape.First Quarter: Phoebe Bridgers – Motion SicknessThe first quarter had the bile slowly rising in my belly. Deion Jones’ absence was felt heavily on the Panther’s opening drive, as they marched down the field with ease and went right at Atlanta’s linebackers. The defense buckled down and Carolina came away with only three, but it was an ominous start for a defense lacking both of its pivotal cogs in Jones and Neal. As was the case in the opener against the Eagles, the Falcons offense was in sync on their first possession only to encounter the scoring issues that have been the prevailing story line since last season. Ever-reliable Matt Bryant splits the uprights after a bizarre 3rd-and-1 wildcat play that saw Mohamed Sanu stuffed behind the line of scrimmage. Emotional motion sickness is right. 3-3 score to end the quarter.Second Quarter: The Struts – Could Have Been MeThe chorus of this one defines the second quarter. “Pride and shame” — Damontae Kazee’s late hit on Cam Newton as he was fully into a slide was egregious, to put it lightly. Kazee’s aggressive play is what gave us confidence in light of Keanu Neal’s injury, but he’s going to have to control it if he hopes to be a productive player on this defense. But pride? Yeah — this offense completely kicked into gear in the second quarter. The Falcons went 2/2 in the red zone, including Calvin Ridley’s first career NFL touchdown. Kazee’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Cam Newton — and the subsequent ejection he deservedly received — was an extremely sour spot in the second quarter, but Steve Sarkian dialed up some creative plays, and Matt Ryan put the offense on his back to get Atlanta into the end zone twice. 17-10 heading into the half. Third Quarter: Gatsby’s American Dream – Meet Me At The Tavern In Bowerstone Save for a Matt Ryan interception as he was hit while releasing the football Youth Blidi Wreh-Wilson Jersey
, this quarter flew by. It was capped by Ryan channeling his inner Michael Vick and scrambling for his second rushing touchdown of the day. The offense was moving at a rapid-fire pace, I desired celebratory strong drink, and this song is 28 seconds long. 24-17 Falcons into the fourth.Fourth Quarter: The Bronx – Heart Attack American A feel-good fourth turned quickly frenetic, as this game got much closer than it should have been after Ricardo Allen seemingly sealed it with an interception. I have high blood pressure as it is and was not prepared for the Panthers to be in a position to knot it up with :05 on the game clock. Thankfully D.J. Moore dropped the would-be game-tying touchdown, and the Falcons secured the win. Deep breaths, everybody. Final: 31-24 Falcons. Post-game: Cartel – Luckie St.Are there worthwhile bars near Centennial Olympic Park? Either way, a celebration is definitely in order. The Falcons’ offense looked damn good, the defense did enough when it had to, and Atlanta comes away with a win at home against the Carolina Panthers. It’s 90 degrees outside, but roll the windows down and savor this one.