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SBD/Issue 73/Events & AttractionsPrint All
Eagles President Says Fans Are
Supportive Of Postponement
Eagles President Joe Banner yesterday said that he "remained solidly convinced the league did the right thing" in postponing Sunday's Vikings-Eagles game until tonight, according to Les Bowen of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Banner said that "many fans had called who would not have been able to get to the game, and would have spent their ticket money for nothing." He added that he had "heard reports of problems with area mass transit late Sunday night, when fans would have been traveling home; he said many people had thanked the team for not putting them in that position" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/28). The DAILY NEWS' Bowen reported the decision to postpone the game was made "shortly after" noon ET Sunday, "before there was any snow on the ground in South Philadelphia." Eagles COO Don Smolenski said that with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter "declaring a snow emergency" and the game "scheduled to be played in the projected heart of the storm, the team and the league didn't feel playing served the interests of public safety." He added that it was the NFL's decision to play tonight instead of last night, "when the matchup would conflict" with the Saints-Falcons "MNF" game (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/27). NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello Sunday, when asked in an e-mail why the game could not be played last night and "whether NBC had a broadcasting rights conflict with ESPN," said that the league "wanted to give fans in Philadelphia time to manage the storm." Aiello: "It's the uncertainty of (the) storm right now and not knowing for certain if Monday night is feasible" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/27). Nutter said that the Eagles and the NFL "ultimately made the decision" to postpone the game. Nutter: "We have no role in whether the game gets played or not" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/28).
THE RIGHT CALL: In Philadelphia, Rich Hofmann wrote, "Given the need to make the call before people began to make their trek, the decision was entirely reasonable -- and that's true even if there were only a few inches on the ground at the scheduled kickoff time" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/27). A PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER editorial states, "The decision by the NFL and the Eagles to postpone the game was the proper one." It took "courage to do the right thing and postpone the game" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/28). A PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS editorial states, "Rescheduling the game wasn't just the right choice. It was the only choice" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/28). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan wrote, "While the postponement is an inconvenience for everyone involved, the Eagles did right by their fans" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 12/27). SI.com's Peter King wrote, "On Sunday, in the warmth of the NBC Studios, I found it absurd the NFL called the Eagles-Vikings game because of snow and wind in Philadelphia. ... On an eight-minute trudge to my hotel, I began to change my mind." King: "As much as it pains me to say it, no, I don't mind that the game was called" (SI.com, 12/27).
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell Rips Decision
To Postpone Vikings-Eagles Game
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKS: In Philadelphia, Jeff McLane notes the decision to postpone the game "has drawn a storm of criticism," as "several Eagles players tweeted their displeasure, fans voiced their anger on radio airwaves, and Internet message boards and pundits pointed fingers" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 12/28). Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell Sunday "ripped the decision." Rendell: "I think it's a joke. I mean, we cancel the game and there's less than 3 inches of snow in Montgomery County, where a lot of our fans come from. There's less than 2 inches in [Wilmington] where a lot of our fans come from. In Philadelphia, we've got a great subway system. Broad Street is fine. The Parkway is fine. 95 and the Expressway are clear. I think the fans can make their own judgments about their own safety. This is football. Good lord, Vince Lombardi would be spinning in his grave if we cancelled a football game over this amount of snow" (PHILLY.com, 12/27). In Philadelphia, Will Bunch wrote, "This is the height of wimpiness. ... The NFL has been rightfully called the No Fun League for a number of years, but this takes that to a whole embarrassing new level. In fact, let's name names here: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie and president Joe Banner, and Mayor Nutter -- you are the Wimps Who Stole Christmas from football fans in Philadelphia" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/27).
WHY TUESDAY? In St. Paul, Tom Powers wrote, "Apparently, the league has become so sterile, so TV oriented that it now makes decisions based on precipitation." Powers: "The worst part is that the league is postponing the game until Tuesday instead of playing it Monday. That is a decision based entirely on the wishes of network television." The NFL insisted the game was moved to tonight instead of last night to allow "sufficient time" for snow cleanup. But Powers wrote, "That's just a flat-out lie. It's to keep ESPN and NBC happy." ESPN "agreed to allow Fox to televise" the Dec. 13 Giants-Vikings game, which was moved to Monday night in Detroit because of the Metrodome roof collapse, "to those teams' local markets." But ESPN was "not about to undercut its own ratings again" by allowing the Vikings-Eagles game to be played last night (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/27). The DAILY NEWS' Hofmann wrote the decision to play the game tonight instead of last night was "really about giving NBC and ESPN their exclusive windows" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 12/27). In St. Louis, Dan Caesar noted "neither NFL nor NBC officials would divulge whether NBC would have been limited to showing the Eagles-Vikes game only in the regions of the participating teams if it had been rescheduled for" last night (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/27). Meanwhile, in L.A., Sam Farmer notes NBC "SNF" Producer Fred Gaudelli "couldn't hide his disappointment" at the decision, "although he understood and agreed with the rationale." Snow games are "woven into the fabric of NFL lore." Gaudelli: "I live for a game in a driving blizzard. There were things we were going to throw out there last night that haven't been seen on TV, and now we're going to have to wait for the next blizzard. For me, it was Santa coming back and taking a present" (L.A. TIMES, 12/28).
DANGEROUS PRECEDENT: In Minneapolis, Judd Zulgad wrote, "The events that have unfolded in the past two days should not be repeated by the NFL. The league needs to realize it set a very unhealthy precedent when it postponed Sunday night's game between the Vikings and Eagles, and it needs to consider that it should have been far more upfront about why the game was shifted to Tuesday night instead of Monday. ... The league is now faced with the question of how do you determine what is unsafe?" The N.Y. area "got hammered by this storm far worse than Philadelphia," yet the Islanders "still played host to the Canadiens and the Devils still played host to Toronto on Sunday." Zulgad: "The NHL doesn't often do things better than its football counterpart but in this case it made the right call and the NFL didn't. What the NFL learns from this teachable moment will be the key moving forward" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 12/27). NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said, “My question is, what is the precedent that comes out of this? What do we take forward? Does this now mean that every time there is a forecast for eight to 10 inches of snow we cancel the game? We don’t play in the NFL? We don’t play playoff games? Potentially we don’t play in Giants Stadium for the Super Bowl if there’s a forecast for eight to 10 inches?” (“Football Night in America,” NBC, 12/26). NFL Network's Scott Hanson: “They may have opened up a bit of a can of worms here (“Washington Post Live,” Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 12/27).
SECOND-GUESSING SUPER BOWL: In N.Y., George Vecsey writes postponing the game was a "no-brainer given the danger to fans and the strain on public services the game would have created." But the "prudent decision by the NFL was merely a preseason exhibition compared with the moment of truth the league could face in February 2014 if another big storm comes rolling in, dumping a large amount of snow in northeastern New Jersey" when New Meadowlands Stadium hosts Super Bowl XLVIII. Vecsey: "Putting a Super Bowl outdoors in the Northeast was always a bad idea" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/28). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said, “How can you sit there and say we want a cold weather Super Bowl game and then you’re postponing this game for two days?” (“Monday Night Countdown,” ESPN, 12/27).
Winter Classic Has Seven-Hour Window With
NBC, CBC Before Delay To Jan. 2 Is Needed
NHL officials yesterday said that Saturday's Capitals-Penguins Winter Classic game "could be pushed back to as late" as 8:00pm ET or even to Sunday if "heavy rain makes playing conditions on the rink installed at Heinz Field unacceptable" for the scheduled 1:00pm start, according to Dave Molinari of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. NHL Senior VP/Events & Entertainment Don Renzulli said that if the game "could not be played Saturday, it would be delayed until noon Sunday," and if that is a "no-go as well, the game would be rescheduled for Consol Energy Center at a later date." Renzulli added, "We're going to do everything humanly possible to play this game, come Saturday" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 12/28). Renzulli noted that the NHL's "window with the television networks, NBC and CBC, is so long that the game could be delayed up to seven hours before it would finally have to be postponed until noon on Jan. 2" (NHL.com, 12/27). In DC, Katie Carrera notes any "decision to delay, postpone or move the Winter Classic from the upcoming weekend would be made by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who would meet with representatives" from the Capitals and Penguins, the NHLPA and "members of the league's hockey operations staff before any changes would be agreed upon" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/28). Saturday and Sunday are the "only days the Winter Classic can be played because the stadium must be turned back over to the Steelers." The Heinz Field turf "has to be replaced for the second time this season before any Steelers home playoff game" (AP, 12/27). NHL VP/Player Development & Event Communications Jamey Horan indicated that if the league postponed the game to a later date at Consol Energy Center, "all ticket money would be refunded." Horan noted that "no ticket-distribution plan has been finalized" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/28).
CAMPAIGNING FOR WASHINGTON: Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis said he expects DC to host a Winter Classic "in a two- or three-year window." While Bettman "offered no commitment on a Winter Classic site" beyond this year's game, he did say that the NHL's goal is "for the Caps to host the Classic in the DC area." The NHL has looked at Nationals Park and FedExField as "potential sites in and around Washington, along with Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards." The league "makes the call," but Leonsis said that he "believes it should be DC's game" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/26). NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that Nationals Park and FedExField are the "early front-runners to host the Winter Classic that has been promised to the Capitals" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/24).
PREPARING FOR PITTSBURGH: In Pittsburgh, Bob Cohn noted the Penguins as Winter Classic host "will receive a home 'buy-out' from the league, compensating for the ticket, parking and concession revenues a normal home game would have brought in." Still, Bettman "insists the Classic is not a huge windfall, stressing the exposure as a significant add-on." He noted it costs "many millions" to stage the event, adding, "The direct economic impact is probably overstated because this is a very expensive event to produce. We do this more for the ancillary benefits, some of which may be financial" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 12/26). Ahead of the Capitals-Penguins Winter Classic, Bettman discussed the event in a Q&A, as did Steelers President Art Rooney II.