NFL higher up Troy Vincent has taken blame for the disappointing field conditions — and subsequent cancellation — of the league’s Hall of Fame preseason game.
According to ESPN, the 46-year-old former cornerback-turned-executive sent a memo to the league’s 32 teams in which he expressed his own regrets regarding his level of blame for the haphazard field conditions that left the NFL forced to cancel the 2016 version of its popular preseason kickoff.
This year, the game was to be held between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts at Canton’s Tom Benson Stadium.
It was, unfortunately, cancelled by league officials after players and representatives from both teams, in addition to the league itself — determined that the field’s playing field was, according to ESPN, “unsafe [for players], due largely to issues associated with the painted logos.”
“While the [Hall of Fame Game] field situation underscored the challenges in working with third parties, ultimately I am accountable for ensuring the field is of the highest standard,” said Vincent, who currently serves as the NFL’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations.
Vincent would continue on in the letter, noting that his level of blame dictates that, in the future, he “must demand and expect an extra level of detail in adhering to NFL standards” as relates to “non-club fields.”
While fans visiting Canton, Ohio, for the Hall of Fame game were refunded the cost of their tickets for the game by the league, other related hotel room and travel costs obviously could not be returned. Many fans make an annual pilgrimage to Canton to see their favorite legends from the NFL’s past become enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
This year’s corner piece induction was Brett Favre, a legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback who helped the team win Super Bowl XXXI in 1997.
Despite Troy Vincent’s apparent willingness to accept blame for the NFL’s cancellation of this particular game, not all critics thought the league was vocal enough in its own mistake.
“While it’s nice [of the NFL] to take the blame, the mentioning of ‘third parties’ is a tacit excuse,” said NBC Sports’ / Pro Football Talk‘s Darin Gantt. “[It is Troy Vincent’s] job is to make sure the field is fit to play on.”
Indeed, no doubt thousands of Packers’ — and even NFL fans — were left disappointed by the decision to scrap the game due to field condition issues, Vincent would continue to assert his role in taking blame, continuing as follows.
“Going forward, the NFL-NFLPA Field Surface Safety and Performance Committee will study and advise on: injury prevention, improved field surface testing methods, the adoption of tools and techniques to evaluate and improve field surface performance / playability, and other areas that arise, such as those surrounding this incident.”
In other words, Vincent intends to put more of a focus on streamlining the process for approving fields — especially those not regularly used for NFL games — for use.
Other aspects of Vincent’s culpability blame game and apology included the following, according to ESPN.
- Decking covering the field not being removed until 2:45 p.m. E.S.T., despite plans to check underneath it at 8 a.m..
- A report by an “independent field tester” who noted that the paint would likely break up once players began to run across it.
- His and the NFL’s failure to provide the third party paint supervisor with detailed, specific instructions regarding flushing and rinsing down paint.
- Attempts to break up the paint being the actual culprit for the field conditions and subsequent game cancellation.
[Photo by Joe Robbins / Getty Images]