Azteca Stadium field conditions a 'significant concern,' NFL could postpone Chiefs-Rams, move it to L.A.
The Chiefs-Rams game in Mexico City is creating controversy because of the field and Los Angeles is in play
The Chiefs and Rams game scheduled for Monday night in Week 11 is one of the crown jewels of the NFL's 2018 schedule, with two high-powered offenses -- the game opened with a historically high total of 64 points -- and in the international setting of Azteca Field in Mexico City during a primetime, standalone matchup.
One problem:. Photos emerged of the playing surface in Stadium Azteca and, man, is it looking ugly inside the stadium.
Multiple reports have already emerged about concerns from the NFL and the teams involved about the playing surface. On Tuesday morning, chatter started to percolate about.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, however, the league is "determined" to play the game in Mexico City, likely because of how important growing the game internationally is from a financial perspective to the league. Embedding a large footprint in Mexico is a big part of the league's growth plan for the long haul, and showcasing Patrick Mahomes vs. Jared Goff would go a long way towards doing just that.
But there are still options on the table for this matchup, Schefter reports, with the move to L.A. a possibility or even the chance of a postponement. Both the Rams and Chiefs are on a bye in Week 12 -- it's conceivable the teams could take their bye this week and then play in Mexico City in Week 12, which would give the Stadium Azteca grounds crew an additional week to prepare things. The logistics of that would be extremely annoying for both teams; the Rams are practicing in Colorado Springs this week to adjust to altitude, so altering plans would involve an additional step or two of travel.
However, safety is a real concern. We're talking about the two teams in the NFL with a combined two losses. Many people would pick a Chiefs-Rams Super Bowl today if they were doing it over. Putting Mahomes, Goff, Todd Gurley, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods -- just to name a couple of offensive players -- at risk from a health perspective just to play a game in Mexico wouldn't sit well with fans or the organizations who employ those players.
Here's one idea for the move as floated by the always-excellent Amy Trask on Twitter: move the game to L.A. and use the game as a way to generate donations, both monetary and in terms of items, for people affected by the California wildfires.
There's a lot of procedural and logistical things that go into place in terms of moving a game like this. It's not just 106 guys and a couple of coaches showing up to play football. There's broadcast concerns, families, fans and a whole host of issues to worry about.
And it's probably too early to say as of Tuesday morning what the NFL will do -- I talked to Jason La Canfora for the Pick Six Podcast that will drop Wednesday, and he noted it will be incumbent on personnel from the league and from the clubs who get down there early this week to make a decision about the playing conditions on the natural grass field.
So there's a ways to go here in terms of deciding what the Chiefs and Rams will do. But it is absolutely a concern right now and potentially something the NFL could end up moving if the field isn't safe enough for these high-scoring young teams to play.
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