An 80-yard field?

That was one hell of a night of exhibition football.

Jim Rome
August 23, 2019 - 9:19 am
Oakland Raiders

USA Today


Here’s something I’ve never said on this show before: that was one hell of a night of exhibition football. There were a lot of things you hate to see and some things you never see, like Tom Brady lumbering, I mean scrambling, to pick up a first down against the Panthers.

There was the stuff you never see.  And then there was the stuff you never WANT to see, like Cam Newton leaving Foxboro in a walking boot. The early word is that it’s left ankle sprain. If so, that’s good. What’s not good he has history with that ankle; it’s already been surgically repaired? What’s not good is he has taken more hits than any quarterback in the league dating back to 2011. And he’s getting pounded again already and the season hasn’t even started yet. And if protecting him weren’t already an issue, one of his offensive lineman left with a concussion. Want to know way to protect your best and most important player? Don’t play him in the preseason. At all.

And speaking of concussions, Washington’s Jordan Reed was evaluated after he suffered one against Atlanta. And DJ Chark left Jacksonville’s game with one as well after denting his skul

But there was also Robert Kem-dee-chee, who was released by the Cardinals for being in terrible shape as he worked his way back from an injury. He was signed by the Dolphins and it doesn’t sound like things have gotten much better. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweeted:

Robert Nkemdiche, who joined the Dolphins a couple of weeks ago and is on active/PUP, doesn't seem to be in any sort of football shape. Tried to run gassers pregame and could not complete run across field (53 1/3 yards) and all the way back.

That’s not good. You know you’re in horrible shape when someone asks you to run across the field, the short way…and you can’t! If you can’t run just over 54 yards without taking a knee, this probably isn’t the game or job for you. Time to find a new line of work. 

And speaking of short fields and wind, Alvin hit me with some music. Give me a bed for this.

Because of all the insanity from last night’s exhibition games, nothing can top or will ever top the Green Bay Packers playing the Oakland Raiders in Winnipeg on an 80-yard field. That’s right. You heard me. An 80-yard field. Two NFL teams, played an NFL game on an 80 yard field. 

No, this is not a joke.

Actually it is a joke. One of the biggest jokes ever. And a complete embarrassment, but it is real. And it really was in Canada and it really involved the Raiders.

How does a team end up playing in Winnipeg on an 80-yard field? The answer is so exhibition and so Raiders. So whack.

According to reports, the Raiders did not have an official lease in Oakland at the time the exhibition season schedule was announced. So when they were given a home game for Week 3, they did not actually have a home. And on top of that, the A’s are playing in the Coliseum this week, so they had to find another location. Because it would’ve been completely ridiculous to play football on a baseball field…

They allegedly reached out to Regina, Edmonton, and Honolulu, before deciding on Winnipeg. And what a decision it was. Worked out great.

It turns out that the plan to move the goal posts from the CFL spot to the NFL spot didn’t go so well and there were holes in the field. And? So? What? Is that a problem? Is having a hole in the field a big deal?

I guess it is. Or maybe it’s not because according to reports, crews were working to repair the field up to roughly 20 minutes before kickoff. Which might be my favorite part of all. 

How the hell is that possible? Did they just find out there was going to be a game last night. Like crap!! That’s tonight???? Damn!! I didn’t know that! I gotta my ass to the field! They kick in an hour. How the hell is that even possible. Especially when that powers that be are constantly trying to sell us on how important the exhibition season is: trying to tell us the exhibition season is critical and something to be taken seriously. Not if you’re playing on 80 yard fields it’s not. Not if coaches see the 80 yard field and immediately take every one of their starters off it, it’s not.

How the hell was this issue not addressed well in advance? How was one of the first questions not – hey, what are we going to do about the holes in the field when we move the goal posts?

And I don’t want to get into the back and forth about who is to blame for this because it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that before the game started, the NFL had to release a special statement. A statement which said they were playing on a special field.  And by special, I mean quote, “reconfigured.”  Great job! Great effort everyone!! One of the worst looks ever. And Oh, yes! Oh, hell yes! I love that. I love everything about that. I love that they had to put out that statement.

How are you feeling if you paid good Canadian money for to see an exhibition game between these two legendary teams and then you have to watch it on a “reconfigured field.”

It takes a big, brass sack to call an 80-yard field a “reconfigured field.” That would be like the NBA having a game with no hoops and calling it a reconfigured court.

I love the ten yard line being the goal line. I love the fact that they had to get rid of kickoffs and replace them with the ball being given to the receiving team.

They should’ve just had a punt, pass, and kick competition in the parking lot and called it a night. That would’ve been less embarrassing.

Then again, if they did that, we would’ve missed out on Raiders fullback Keith Smith scoring a touchdown and not knowing he’d scored a touchdown.

Let me set up the play for you. The Raiders offense has the ball at the 15, I mean the 5, and they strike pay dirt at the 10, errr, goal line! Roll it!

I don’t know about you but I’ve watched that play two dozen plays and it makes laugh out loud every single time. That is one of my all-time favorite highlights. Everything about it. Calling the 15 yard line the five yard line…Smith battling for extra yards even though he’s already in the end zone because he didn’t know he was in the end zone. That might go down as the greatest play in Raider history. I know it’s going to go down as the greatest play in Jim Rome history. That’s the reason I got into this business decades ago: to see and talk about plays like that!!

As Smith said afterwards: "If you watch the play, I didn't stop when I scored. I thought I had 8 more yards to go. It had a backyard-footballish feel to it."

Backyard-football-ish or back-ass-wards ish. That couldn’t have been any more backyward, backwards, or backwoods than it was. They should have just made Aaron Rodgers the all-time quarterback and he could have played for both teams. On that short field.

And maybe most ridiculous of all was the tweet from the Raiders account after the game 

Thank you for your incredible hospitality and kindness, Winnipeg. It was a night we won’t forget.

Or the one that read in part:

The Raiders offense finished with a 67% red zone efficiency and 100% conversion rate on fourth downs.

Dude…, that is awesome.  Piece of advice, though: Maybe you don’t hype the red zone stats when the whole field is a red zone. 

And no, this isn’t about me bashing Winnipeg. Or Canada.

I don’t need your jokes about how an 80-yard field is correct given the conversion rate. Or that the stadium owners must’ve shortchanged the construction crew in pelts on pay day, and this is what happens. Or that the reason they couldn’t get this fixed in time was because there was a line at Canada’s one pay phone.

But how bad are Regina and Edmonton feeling about themselves that they got passed over for that debacle? How terrible are their fields that they lost out to the place that had to be an 80-yard field?

And why were the Raiders in Canada in the first place? They couldn’t find a 100-yard field near Oakland. What about Hayward? San Leandro! Concord! REACTION!   .  

Here’s my reaction: last night could not have been more Raiders and it could not have been more exhibition. And it was awesome. If you want to get me to care about the exhibition season, that’s exactly the way to do it. Because that was my favorite exhibition game ever. Hell, that might have been my favorite FOOTBALL game ever.