Quit cryin' about Heinz Field
Someday, if the Field Grinches get their way, every pro football game will be played under a dome, on a freshly vacuumed carpet, with the thermostat adjusted to 68.5.
Lambeau Field will be rendered lame, Soldier Field the same.
Mother Nature will be benched, relegated to the sidelines with a clipboard and a ball cap.
Sadly, this already has occurred in places such as Minnesota, where indoor football should be illegal. The Vikings built a proud tradition -- and embodied the rugged personality of their state -- at icy Metropolitan Stadium.
They now play in an oversize family room called the Metrodome.
Which brings us to the Steelers' 3-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Swampball, a game that has people ripping the Rooneys and decrying the conditions at Heinz Field.
An embarrassment, they're calling it. A blight on the organization.
ESPN's Sal Paolantonio went so far as to ask analysts Steve Young and Emmitt Smith, "Should this game have been played on that field?"
Let me answer that.
Should they have played the Ice Bowl at Lambeau in 1967?
Should they have played the 1982 AFC Championship Game in Cincinnati in a minus-59 wind chill?
Should they have played the Fog Bowl at Soldier Field in 1988?
Should they have played that picturesque, snow-and-mud fest between the Steelers and Bears two years ago at Heinz Field?
Should they have played the 1979 AFC title game at Three Rivers Stadium, the one commemorated with a Sports Illustrated cover shot of Terry Bradshaw sliding along the flooded field, under the headline, "SPLASHDOWN TO THE SUPER BOWL"?
Obviously, there was more at stake in some of those legendary games than there was Monday, but bad weather and horrendous fields - to this observer, anyway - make for fascinating theater.
And help to explain why so many of us are addicted to NFL Films.
Those who cited concerns about player safety should consider that the field Monday was nothing compared to the artificial concrete, er, turf, they used to play on at Three Rivers.
Bad-weather games might not make for the best test of skill, but they are a supreme test of will. Think of Hines Ward on the winning drive.
Think of tackle football in the mud and snow when you were young. We used to call it "slip-slidy football" back in Buffalo. We'd play two-on-two in the blizzard-battered streets, where onside kicks off the snow banks were perfectly legal and highly encouraged.
Even if your fantasy team suffered Monday, you must have found the man-versus-nature battle somewhat riveting. The hydroplaning. The quick-sand effect. The lack of on-field markings. The near-uselessness of kickers. All good stuff.
And when's the last time you saw a punt stick in the ground like a javelin?
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had a great answer Tuesday when pressed about the field conditions.
"It's football, man," he said. "It's an outdoor game that's played as you move into December. Everybody loved playing dirty football when you were a kid. What else is new• Guys had a great time. It created some adversity, we overcame it, and we found a way to win the game."
Monday's conditions were a fluke, by the way, caused by the confluence of five games in two days, a new layer of sod and a relentless rain. The Steelers do the right thing by allowing high-school teams to use their field. They tried to do the right thing by resodding it for Monday's game.
The team and the NFL should work to avoid scheduling games around the high-school finals, but, truthfully, Heinz Field hasn't provided that poor a surface during late-season months.
The New England Patriots seem to play pretty well there in January.
Steelers president Art Rooney II yesterday issued a public apology for the state of the field Monday. He really shouldn't have.
From this vantage point, that game was a thing of beauty.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers submit application to play host to Super Bowl in 2023
- Rossi: Wild Wednesday proves Steelers rule
- Steelers wide receiver Wheaton embraces move to slot position
- Steelers notebook: Best RB tandem in NFL?
- Australians rule punting competition for chance to play for Steelers
- Steelers CB Allen working to regain form, make an impact
- Steelers running back Bell is taking long-term look at his NFL career
- QB Roethlisberger embracing teaching role with Steelers’ offense