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Hall of Fame Game fiasco: How the wrong paint, melted rubber, and caustic paint thinner nixed Packers-Colts

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The timeline of incompetence that led to Sunday’s game being cancelled is truly impressive

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Green Bay Packers vs Indianapolis Colts Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that the NFL had to cancel a preseason game due to bad field conditions on a clear August evening is somehow both hilarious and embarrassing. The Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts and their fans made a trip to northeast Ohio for Hall of Fame weekend, expecting to play in or see a football game (even if it was a preseason game in which the Packers were going to start an undrafted rookie quarterback).

However, as we now have the benefit of time to process, we are learning more and more about just what happened to bring about the cancellation of Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game. The sequence of events that has been uncovered is simply incredible. Mike Silver of NFL.com has constructed a damning narrative that describes just how absurd Sunday’s comedy of errors was.

Here is the critical passage that details what happened:

According to several sources familiar with the field preparation, things went awry after the subsequent painting of logos in the middle of the field and in the end zones on Sunday. Improper paint may have been used, and when it did not seem to be drying quickly enough, someone apparently made the dubious decision to heat the field in an effort to dry it -- thus melting the rubber pellets inside the FieldTurf and creating a slick, sticky and (in Baker's words) "congealed" effect.

At one point about 2.5 hours before the game, stadium workers applied a substance that appeared to be paint thinner in an effort to remedy the issue. However, according to a Packers source, one Green Bay employee noticed a label that warned of severe burns when exposed to skin and took a photo of it, showing it to others after the teams later retreated to their respective locker rooms.

That’s quite the story. Let’s break down this story further:

  • First, someone involved in the game decided the logos and end zones needed to be re-painted early on Sunday.
  • Then, when touching up the logos, stadium workers appear to have used a paint that was not meant for application on turf.
  • When the paint didn’t dry quickly enough, someone decided to try to make it dry faster. This in turn melted the rubber, which combined with the paint to make a hard plastic-like mass.
  • THEN THEY APPLIED A CAUSTIC PAINT THINNER-LIKE SUBSTANCE TO A SURFACE ON WHICH PEOPLE WERE GOING TO BE TACKLED REPEATEDLY.

Is there an award for which we can nominate the observant Packers employee who noticed the warning label?

The incompetence involved in each of these actions is on their own frustrating. But how in the world could every one of these things take place in succession in a matter of hours? And who is in charge of the process that led to these actions, which would have exposed the players not only to excessive impact-related injury risk, but chemical hazards as well?

Here’s one more question: other than the yardage lines on the field, is there any painted design on the field of enough importance to warrant repainting it on the day of the game? At least as far as I am concerned, if a midfield logo or end zone script were a bit faded, my reaction would be to shrug my shoulders and not give it a second thought.

Ultimately, once the stadium staff ruined the field, the Hall of Fame and the NFL did the right thing in canceling the game. This is hardly an indictment of those people who made the decision; it was the only reasonable one to make. And while it was understandably a significant disappointment for the fans in attendance - and one that comes with some substantial monetary cost as well thanks to the absence of any announcements in the stadium until game time - it was a preseason game and just one part of Hall of Fame weekend.

Let’s criticize the league and the Hall of Fame for not telling the fans in the stands that the game would be canceled. Let’s rip the people who were responsible for the incredible blunders that made the field unplayable in the first place. And let’s complain about the Hall only reimbursing the ticket prices and none of the other costs incurred by fans in attendance.

But let’s also remember that there is one hero in all of this: the Packers employee who helped his team avoid being exposed to potentially caustic chemicals. We salute you.