In the face of a set of daunting weather predictions and traffic accidents already totaling over 100, the NFL postponed a game on account of solely the weather for the first time in almost 80 years, at least on a same-day basis. The last time it happened, the Chicago Bears were scheduled to play the Portsmouth Spartans in 1932 (the Spartans moved to Detroit and became the Lions in 1934). This time, the Minnesota Vikings managed to extend their streak of weather-related delays and moves to three weeks in a row:
On a bizarre day when the Philadelphia Eagles were snowed out, they celebrated an NFC East championship.
The NFL moved the Vikings at Eagles game from Sunday night to Tuesday because of a blizzard that could dump more than a foot of snow on Philadelphia. …
In announcing the postponement, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said:
“Due to public safety concerns in light of today’s snow emergency in Philadelphia, tonight’s Vikings-Eagles game has been postponed. Because of the uncertainty of the extent of tonight’s storm and its aftermath, the game will be played on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. This will allow sufficient time to ensure that roads, parking lots and the stadium are fully cleared.”
While some saw this as a simple acknowledgment of unusual circumstances and a well-founded concern over public safety, others saw it as a test of manhood that the NFL failed. Doug Mataconis notes the reaction of outgoing Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who became “irate” over the postponement:
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was irate in a live interview Sunday night that the Philadelphia Eagles game was postponed by the NFL.
The Guv was obviously upset during a phone interview with Fox 29 and at one point, he was arguing with Fox 29 chief meteorologist John Bolaris about the details of snow amounts in the Philadelphia area.
Rendell said that only 5 inches of snow was on the ground at the time the Eagles-Vikings would have been held Sunday night (Instead, the NFL moved the game to Tuesday night as a public safety precaution.)
When Bolaris told Rendell that measurement was taken at 7 p.m., Rendell argued the point. He also said with only several inches on the ground in the Pennsylvania suburbs near Philadelphia, there was no reason to postpone the game.
“I think it is a joke,” Rendell said about the NFL’s decision.
“In actuality there are more than 7 inches of snow on the ground. That report was from 7 p.m. Governor,” Bolaris said. The game would have started at 8:30 p.m.
“No, that was at 8:30 according to FEMA,” Rendell shot back. “This is no way, shape or form a blizzard!”
Again via Doug, Philly columnist Will Bunch called the NFL a “bunch of wimps” and decried the nanny state mentality that led to the decision. He also called them “girly-men,” the “Wimps Who Stole Christmas,” and claimed that the “nanny state killed this football game.”
Well … maybe. One of the big losers of the decision was NBC, which was supposed to air the game nationally, and instead ended up with a big hole in its schedule and a need to pre-empt its entire Tuesday night prime-time schedule for the new game date. Nevertheless, the report shows the field conditions rather clearly:
Getting past all of the name calling, what exactly is the problem with postponing the game? It is, after all, a game — and it still will be played in Philadelphia, unlike the Vikings game that got moved to Detroit. The people who have tickets will get to see the game tomorrow, unlike some ticketholders for the Vikings game against the Chicago Bears, who lost out in the transition to TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota. The playing conditions will be better for the players, and the driving conditions much better for the fans. The delay even provided a small boost to Philly’s economy, as the Vikings and their entourage had to shop for clothing for two more days, and the hotels and restaurants got a few more bucks from the delay, too.
The game didn’t get killed, contra Bunch, and perhaps the NFL showed some actual perspective in putting safety ahead of a game that was rendered essentially meaningless thanks to other games played earlier in the day. Also, contra Bunch, this wasn’t a “nanny state” decision, but a risk-management decision by private enterprise. Had the state made the decision in this case, using the reactions of Rendell and Mayor Michael Nutter as a guide, the game would have gone as scheduled, and the headlines would have been about people being killed rather than a game.
What do you think? Was this the right decision? Take the poll: