Manitoba premier pans NFL preseason dud, 'disappointment'
Winnipeg, Manitoba — The premier of Manitoba says there’s a “lot of disappointment” from the Packers-Raiders preseason game that was played on an 80-yard field because of safety concerns.
Brian Pallister acknowledged during a campaign stop Friday that it “didn’t work out the way they wanted.”
But he added that “organizers tried to do something that hadn’t been done before, so let’s give them respect and credit for trying.”
The game Thursday night was played on a shortened field because of the turf in the end zones. The league also eliminated kickoffs.
Oakland defeated Green Bay, 22-21, on a field goal by Daniel Carlson with eight seconds left. The Packers did not dress 33 players, including Aaron Rodgers.
The Raiders withheld most starters, including quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Antonio Brown (Central Michigan).
Attendance was 21,992 at 33,000-seat IG Field. Canadian-based On Ice Entertainment Ltd. was the promoter.
It was the first NFL game in Canada since the Buffalo Bills faced the Atlanta Falcons in December 2013 to finish a run of eight games in Toronto.
End zones were marked by bright orange pylons at the 10-yard lines and there were no kickoffs.
The field was reconfigured because of concerns about the areas where the goal posts for the CFL’s Winnipeg franchise were removed and covered with turf.
Before warm-ups, game officials and staff from both clubs examined the turf that covered the goal post spots for 110-yard CFL games. The goal posts would have been inside the NFL end zones.
“We were going to have all our starters play, and it was just one of those deals,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “We certainly have all played on much worse surfaces in our life, but it was just one of those deals where they weren’t playing their starters and so we just decided to sit them.”
Packers quarterback Tim Boyle said he checked out a turf-covered spot during warm-ups.
“It was just a little raised,” Boyle said. “But it’s something you don’t really want to play around with, especially guys who, this is their living.
“This puts food on the table for them, so you don’t want to mess around with injuries.”
Oakland coach Jon Gruden said the playing surface didn’t concern him.
“I’m not going to make a big deal about the field,” Gruden said. “We liked the field. We thought the field was perfectly ready to roll. You’ll have to ask Green Bay about that.”
The Raiders decided to move one of their two home preseason games to Winnipeg in a move that saved them $500,000 in rent at the Oakland Coliseum.
The team is planning to move to Las Vegas in 2020.
Boyle, Rodgers’ backup, threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Davis and a 26-yarder to Jake Kumerow.
Tra Carson ran for a touchdown for the Packers, and Green Bay led 21-10 at halftime.