At least many of the Green Bay Packers fans who flocked to Canton this weekend got to bask in Brett Favre’s memorable Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech.
A night after Favre headlined a Hall of Fame celebration that was wrapped in green and gold, the annual Hall of Fame Game between the Packers and Indianapolis Colts was canceled due to unsafe playing conditions on the FieldTurf playing surface.
“It was tested a couple of times and, most recently, right before the game, it was tested by people from the league and the players association,” Packers President Mark Murphy said.
Murphy said the “problem was the paint job” on the Pro Football Hall of Fame logo at midfield and the “Pro Football Hall of Fame” and “Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium” lettering in the end zones.
The game was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. local time but rumors of a possible cancelation started long before an announcement was made to the fans, who had filled more than half the stadium. Hall of Fame President David Baker was showered with a thunderous round of boos by the time he told the fans shortly after the scheduled kickoff. Players from both teams, dressed in their jerseys but not in pads, walked onto the field. The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, including Favre, were greeted with cheers as they were introduced. Veteran country star Lee Greenwood killed some time by singing some of his hits. Then, the fans headed to the exits. They’ll get a full refund for the tickets but that hardly will repay money spent for food and lodging for fans who either attended the Hall of Fame induction and decided to stay for the game or came just for the game.
“You really feel (for) our fans,” Murphy said. “They traveled from Green Bay and all across the country, spent all kinds of money buying tickets and, yes, they had some really great events – not taking away anything because last night was spectacular and, from a Packers’ standpoint, almost unparalleled as far as impact for our organization. But there’s no question this was very disappointing. So you feel for them but, to your point, it’s more than just the fans. You’ve got young players who want to make the team. A lot of our first-year players, younger players (were) going to play so they’re losing that opportunity.”
Coach Mike McCarthy had been looking forward to using the fifth preseason game to gain additional insight on his younger player. Neither of the top quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley (ankle), were going to play, meaning a lot of snaps for rookies Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams. Young players at other positions would have benefitted, too, including at running back, with Eddie Lacy most likely out due to an ankle injury that sidelined him for most of Wednesday’s practice and all of Thursday’s.
“We did the right thing in line with player safety,” McCarthy said. “It’s disappointing for the team to come down here and play; very disappointing for our fans. It was just incredible to see the green and gold. Everybody was there last night. I thought the ceremony last night was special. Our fans are unbelievable. It says a lot about our special fans.”
McCarthy isn't changing his schedule dramatically for the coming week. As scheduled, the team will not practice on Monday before working on Tuesday and Wednesday for Friday's home game vs. Cleveland. McCarthy had no update on whether receiver Jordy Nelson or the other players on PUP will practice this week.
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