Mud is Beautiful: Is the NFL Going Too Soft?
The NFL has just announced that next Monday Night’s Football game will be shifted from Mexico City to Los Angeles. Screw the locals who bought tickets. Trash all the planning and travel plans undoubtedly made by some fans. Just flip a giant middle finger to Mexico.
What’s the reason? Riots? Political unrest? Safety? Volcanoes? An earthquake?
None of the above.
Try this on for size: A soft playing field.
That’s right. The highly-anticipated matchup between two of the NFL’s best teams, the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs won’t be played at the cavernous Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, which hosted the 1968 Summer Olympics. The league decided the field conditions weren’t acceptable.
Not acceptable? Doesn’t the NFL have an archive to check out the playing fields over the past 60 years in Green Bay, Pittsburgh, or Cleveland?
This decision is outrageous. It makes no sense at all. In the NFL nowadays, here’s what qualifies as a field with “unacceptable playing conditions.” This photo of the field at Azteca Stadium (below) was taken just a few days ago:
So, what am I missing?
Why cancel the Mexico City game?
This field looks perfectly normal. It’s sure far better footing for players than many games played outdoors in December and January. What’s the problem?
Would a soft, perhaps even muddy field give one team an unfair advantage over the other?
Would a soft field cause unnecessary risk to players?
In fact, the opposite is true. Studies have shown that games played on natural grass produce fewer injuries than games played on the horrible rubber faux-grass which now litters most football fields and is an abomination to watch. Action gets slowed down, and landings become softer. Risks to knees and ligaments aren’t as severe on grass fields because the natural turf gives way to physics. Rubber grass provides better footing, but that also leads to more injuries.
Indeed, fake grass rolled out of some Lowe’s garden center makes football about as interesting as a mopped warehouse floor. Sure, it’s prettier to look at and easier to walk on for both players and officials. But it’s boring as hell and takes all the fun out of the game. It’s the difference between having real Christmas tree versus one made polyvinyl chloride. The real tree is more fun.
Sure, the NFL wants clean uniforms, rubber grass, domes, and higher-scoring games. The league wants points. Thing is, we already have something like that. It’s called the Arena Football League. And, it’s unwatchable.
Many of us devoted football fans remember the greatest games from years ago, many of which were played in the mud, in the rain, in the snow. Football was played in the elements. And it was great. Muddy football was great football to watch. Football loses its natural essence when it’s played on artificial fields, in domes, in 72-degree weather, in what amounts to a man-made petri dish.
Football on rubber grass is a crime.
Old style football was always more fun to watch, as this clip shows:
The NFL is enjoying its most exciting season in years. Many games have been thrilling to watch. New stars have emerged. The playoffs are fast approaching and it’s a wide-open race as to who will win the Super Bowl.
As we continue to watch pro football despite all its awful rules, inconsistencies, terrible owners, and off-the-field scandals — let’s just hope it doesn’t snow in Green Bay or rain in Pittsburgh. I’d sure hate to see a muddy field and “unacceptable playing conditions” make the NFL have to move the game into a dome.
What a joke.