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Packers’ Starters Sit Due to Bogus Safety Issue

During the breaks in the Packers-Raiders preseason game, I tried to research what went on that caused Coach Matt LaFleur to withhold his top 33 players from playing on the field of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

It appears that when the goal posts, which are located differently on Canadian Football League fields, were moved, the holes left were filled poorly, creating some footing concerns. Never mind that the game was played on an 80-yard field, the thing that apparently caused LaFleur to sideline all his starters, and eleven others, was concern over these two spots of turf.

Packers Raiders turf quality

Source: (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

I saw a photo that showed the supposed culprit: about a 20” by 20”square; I assume there were two of these, one near each end zone. Bear with me. An NFL football field is comprised of 57,600 square feet of turf. The two offending filled holes, combined, take up maybe 8 square feet. So, the supposed poor footing constituted about 0.0001388% of the playing surface – a statistically insignificant amount of space.

Before proceeding, let me relate my experience at filling holes, as I have about 100 fence posts on my property, we have very high autumn winds on Whidbey Island, and trees are constantly falling across my fences. Filling post holes is not difficult – one need not be a landscaper or soil scientist to get the job done.

These two spots were located near the ends of the playing field, so very few plays occurred anywhere near these spots. Had there been turf problems at the 50-yard line, I suppose one could argue there was some justification for concern. Raiders Coach Jon Gruden copied LaFleur, or vice versa, by also holding out most of his starters from the game.

If these coaches truly kept all their best players from playing due to these two questionable surface flaws, I can only describe those decisions as: paranoia.

I suspect, however, that the turf condition was merely a convenient excuse. LaFleur has made it abundantly clear that he’s obsessed about not exposing his players to injury risks prior to the regular season.

C’mon man, this is pro football, where games are played in mud and rain puddles, slogging through snow, and sometimes on fields as icy as a skating rink. Stop pussifying this great game. I certainly would like to see NFL injuries reduced, and I’ve done numerous posts on ways to do this. I can think of 25 ways to make this game safer, without compromising the basic physical nature of the game. The decisions made by these two coaches this evening are not among them.

Raiders vs Packers - Preseason

Aug 22, 2019; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; The Oakland Raiders line up against the Green Bay Packers during the second half at Investors Group Field. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cause and Effect

Whatever the reason, the result is that Green Bay will go into the all-important game against the Chicago Bears on September 5 inadequately prepared. I assume they’ll be grossly unprepared in comparison to the opposition, as I presume Chicago’s star players will get a fair amount of playing time in their third preseason game on Saturday.

I’m also assuming that LaFleur will again choose not to play his starters in the fourth and final preseason game, against Kansas City, a week from now. Refraining from playing starters in the final preseason game is a precept all but carved in stone throughout the copycat NFL.

Longer term, I believe this game signals the eventual demise of preseason NFL games. Veteran players don’t seem to want to expose themselves to any risks. Neither do head coaches. And for sure, the players union will make this a huge negotiating point when it (soon) comes to negotiating the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Tonight was a sad night for diehard fans of the great game of football. Terrible call, Matt!

Until September 5 rolls around, I think I’ll content myself with watching Jimmy Taylor and Ray Nitschke highlight reels.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Jason Parker August 23, 2019

    See Also: https://www.nbcsports.com/bayarea/raiders/raiders-playing-80-yard-field-wont-change-jon-grudens-evaluation

    LaFleur strikes me as the type of guy that wants to be everyone’s friend. Sometimes you gotta be an asshole when you’re a leader.

    Also, I’m not writing a summary because the whole thing was a fucking joke. Google it.

  2. Robster August 23, 2019

    There’s a typo, it should read 57,600 square feet. The percentage, however, is accurate. A football field comprises approximately 1.32 acres.

  3. Robster August 23, 2019

    Not-so-good morning. The official voice of the team, Packers.com, gives this explanation: LaFleur didn’t say specifically that the field snafu caused his change in plans, but he suggested Oakland’s decision to rest all of its starters played into his call. . .“We made the adjustments we felt were in the best interest of our football team, and we moved forward,” LaFleur said. . .“It was a combination of a lot of things I really don’t want to get into right now. It is what it is. They weren’t playing their guys and I just didn’t want to put our guys at risk.” The website concurred with me that: “(I)t’s highly unlikely any starters will see the field in that game, either. So Green Bay could be heading to Chicago for Week 1 with the starters playing only two series of preseason football (last week at Baltimore) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers not taking a snap.” I guess we are to accept that LaFleur jeopardized the team’s early season based on what that NFL genius Jon Gruden (with his 4-12 record) decided to do. “It is what it is.” Thanks coach, you’ve calmed all my fears.

  4. Scott August 23, 2019

    The percentage is wrong, you need to multiply by 100

  5. Stiggy August 23, 2019

    Why the uproar? I’m 100% against playing anyone of any value in the preseason…. eq brown could easily have been devante. Cole madison could easily have been our cornerstone left tackle.

    I think your argument has a solid foundation rob and agree with everything you said. I also agree with lefleurs decision to not risk injuries in a worthless cross border cash grab. What’s really embarrassing and a black stain on the league is not the decision to rest the top players..
    But the decision to charge 450 dollars for a ticket to a horseshit fiasco…what a joke.

    Nobody in the NFL short of the bottom feeders are giving their starters meaningful pre season work… and realistically…given the bears are employing the same strategy as the packers it is a wash.

    Not playing a single pre season snap last year certainly didnt hurt Khalil mack or roquan smith against the pack last year. Those preseason reps assuredly didnt keep Rodgers leg from being annihilated on the first play from scrimmage.

    I want the season to start too…but I dont want the season to start with any key players on ir.

    1. Jason Parker August 23, 2019

      One messed up thing about the situation was the crazy ticket prices. Then this week they said they were using starters for a quarter but probably just to fund more suckers.

    2. PF4L August 23, 2019

      Our cornerstone left tackle doesn’t get two holding penalties and get pushed back the whole game the way Cole does. Just sayin.
      Also…i thought the embarrassment and black stain was that the NFL didn’t due their due diligence in making sure the field was prepped correctly and ready for play. They have people employed to do just that. Seems like no lessons were learned from the 2016 HOF game fiasco.

  6. thomaslind949yahoocom August 23, 2019

    I can;t think oi is name right now, but the Rams all world defensive tackle hasn’t taken a snap in preseason in the last 3 years. To put our number ones out there with players who will do anything to make a roster after Gruden pulled his first stringers could have turned disastrous..

    1. Kato August 23, 2019

      I am of the opinion that this is football. Shit happens. To put it bluntly, LaFluer needs to stop being a pussy. I am going to be pissed when I see the offense coming out looking like shit with zero timing, offensive line not in sync, the defense missing like 25 tackles the first game (for real, the first two games the defense missed 42 tackles. How is this possible!)

  7. Kato August 23, 2019

    Rodgers needs to get some game action before the season. I don’t give a shit that he has 14 years of experience.

  8. Howard August 23, 2019

    So the Raiders didn’t take 24 of their players on the trip to Winnipeg. The Raiders wanted to see how their backups would fare against the Packers starters. Well fuck the Raiders. If the Raiders want a preseason game against the opponents starter then they can put their top line players out there and the Packers would have done the same. The Packers were prepared to start the first teams but not when they found out the Raiders weren’t planning on playing their starters by not bringing several of them.
    LaFleur made the proper move by not playing the starters. What the fuck were the Packers starters going to learn against a bunch of Raider backups. The Packer backups (2nd team) kicked the Raiders 2nd teams ass. The Packers starters had nothing to gain except get injured.
    The field had nothing to do with LaFleur holding out the starters.
    The NFL should be embarrassed by having to make a field adjustment at game time caused by poor planning. However, it was the correct decision. You just don’t pour a shitload of rubber pellets in holes, tamp, and expect those areas to be the same surface as the rest of the field. I cannot say how many times I have watched receivers run through, and/or attempted to, or catch TDs in the exact areas those piss poor patch were made. Let alone all the DBs or LBs trying to cover in those areas. Anyone who watches football knows that the areas of those,and I will repeat piss poor ACL tearing, or ankle breaking patches cannot honestly say those patches were not a known potential for injury.

    1. PF4L August 23, 2019

      Is it any wonder why Howard receives the respect he does. Very well articulated.

    2. Howard August 23, 2019

      I’m not sure about well articulated or respected. I have a different take on the starters sitting than Rob.
      First this game was a home game for the Raiders and what do the Raiders do? Leave 24 of their players in Oakland. No sight seeing tour to another country? Maybe they couldn’t get passports? The Packers brought their players ready to play. Many of the Raiders didn’t even make the flight. The Raiders made it clear they did not want to show up for a Home game with their best.
      So Mayock and/or Gruden punked both the NFL and Winnipeg by leaving over 26% of their team at home. O.K punk the NFL, but screw the Raiders and Gruden if they think they are going to check out how well their 2nd team players can fair against the Packers 1st team. When did the Packers become the Raiders practice squad or JV team?
      Gruden was trying to screw with LaFleur and the Packers, and LaFleur said he wasn’t going to have anything to do with that shit. Rob needs to listen to LaFleur’s post game press conference. LaFleur made it clear the decision to not play starters was not made due to the field, it was made because the Raiders were not playing their starters, and may I add or even bringing several of them to the Raiders home stadium.
      The other thing to remember is the Packers will play the Raiders in week 6 when games count. If Gruden isn’t going to put his #1s out on the field in preseason, as to not show anything, neither should the Packers. LaFleur was right in what he did, and LaFleur and the Packers are the only entities involved in that clusterfuck of a game that didn’t get punked by Gruden and the Raiders. The score may say the Raiders won, but LaFleur (Packers) won when LaFleur said we are not going along with this shit show directed and produced by Gruden and The Raiders, with some credit rolls starring the NFL.
      Sorry about the rant. Hope your improving daily from your injuries.

    3. PF4L August 24, 2019

      A simple thank you would have sufficed.
      Regardless…you are absolutely correct about LeFleur not wanting to be punked by Gruden, or allow his starters to be part of Grudens “experiment” playing his two’s against our one’s. Plus it also opened the door wide open as a reason for LeFleur not to play his starters on that shit field.
      Without getting into it, i think a debate could be made, that the game itself should have been canceled. The NFL really dropped the ball, again.
      One final thought….i’m going to go way out on a limb, and say that Kizer might be a….bust? Yea…..i said it, that JUST happened!
      Oops, thanks Howard…Pelvic surgery might be in my future, i’ll know more Thurs. morning (this sucks). I think i need to request a temporary handicapped sticker. I’m not young anymore, but i’m not old enough for this shit yet.

      1. Howard August 24, 2019

        Thanks PF4L. :-)
        From experience if you do have surgery be careful about infection. Infection can be the most dangerous part of after surgery care.

  9. Stiggy August 23, 2019

    Kato… I doubt we will be talking about 3rd stringers and t willy missing tackles in the preseason 2 weeks from now. I doubt the 2 series…and roughly 15-20 plays of reps the first team defense would have been on the field would teach them more about tackling than the 20+ years these players have spent playing football prior to the Winnipeg fiasco.

    Anyone who thinks our first team should be out their this preseason forever forfeits the right to utter another complaint over Nelson’s departure. As he clutched his leg after blowing it out in a game where mccarthy decided not to be a pussy…anyone with a brain knew his days in green and gold were numbered.

    1. PF4L August 24, 2019

      lol..correct again Stig…no…in two weeks we’ll be talking about T Willy missing tackles in the regular season.

      1. Stiggy August 24, 2019


  10. PF4L August 23, 2019

    Reality, torpedoed 3 words into my brain while reading these post about whether players should or shouldn’t play in preseason, but only as it relates to the Packers. I still say this team NEEDS pre-season games you have a new coach, new off. schemes, new players needing to create rapport and timing with, 2nd year defensive Cord. New free agents you bestowed a fortune on, new draft class, developing 2 year players, new pieces in the O line, etc, etc, etc…..
    Then it just dawned on me….concerning the Packers. DOES IT MATTER?
    Will they be SB contenders if they play in the pre-season? Of course not.
    Will they go deep in the playoffs if they play in the pre-season? Of course not.
    Will they be in the playoffs if they play in the pre-season? Not sure that alone would tip this team into a play-off team.
    Various arguments can be made on both sides whether they should play in pre-season or not, but….

    1. Stiggy August 23, 2019

      It matters if your all pro wideout and your top skill position player blows his knee out in a meaningless game thus effecting his longevity and essentially ending his meaningful packers career.

      In other words…seasons arent won in preseason but they can sure be lost in preseason. What If 12 had his season ended last night? Is that worth having 15 plays experience in the new offense? There is no question that it isnt…its not even debatable.

      Now could a team benefit from pre season work? 100% absolutely.

      But in the minds of the men who are paid millions of dollars to oversee these franchises…the benefit of putting them out there is far outweighed by the risk of losing a key player in an exhibition game.

      Most of the work is done on days that arent sundays anyway.

    2. PF4L August 23, 2019

      You’re right Stig…i don’t know what the hell i was thinking.

  11. Deepsky August 23, 2019

    I don’t think it matters if the starters start or not. The whole team is going to be a cluster eff the first half of the season as these guys try to pick up a new offense.

    Here’s opening records of significant Packer coaches:

    McCarthy started out 1-4.
    Sherman started out 2-4.
    Holmgren 2-5.
    Gregg 1-7.
    Devine, Starr and Infante only won 4 games their entire first seasons

    Even Lombardi started out 3-5.

    1. PF4L August 23, 2019

      Thank you.

  12. Howard August 24, 2019

    Jason, Thanks for inserting the ability to reply to everyone no matter location in thread.

  13. Empacador August 24, 2019

    Remember when Rodgers wasn’t concerned about the lack of practice after the players were locked out in 2011? Remember how the Packers finished a league best 15-1 that season? Good times, good times…

    As Deepsky mentioned above, no amount of practice is going to change the Packers looking dazed and confused coming into LaFleur’s inaugural season as a head coach. The defense might be respectable and keep some games close, but I don’t see this year being a repeat of what Nagy did in Chicago. So far the same mistakes that plagued the McCarthy led Packers have continued under the LaFleur regime. The only difference is I haven’t heard LaFleur talking about pad level or how they’ll “get that cleaned up” or how their “adversity football production” is lacking. Yet. In case you need a reminder:


    That’s a huge win in my book. I’m looking forward to the first full season without McCarthy at the helm, although I’ll probably still be disappointed while the Packers continue making the same stupid mistakes and penalties at inopportune times. You know the mistakes I mean, like keeping Kizer and Moore while trying to be cute with the practice squad, or penalties on big special team plays, missed tackles, turnstiles for O-linemen. Anything resembling a winning season is icing on that cake.

    Murphy has not figured out yet, Rodger’s is just about out of coattail left to ride. No amount of sledding hills and theme parks are going to ever replace the golden opportunities he oversaw being pissed away during his stewardship of the team. More good times await us. Only not the kind we were hoping for I’m afraid. Please let me be wrong about that.

    1. PF4L August 24, 2019

      I clinked the link and re-read that article and comments Empac. Mostly because at this moment in time i don’t have anything better to do, except anticipate the joy when i can take my next dose of narcotics (prescribed).
      You are correct, the defense might be respectable, but a lot of things have to fall into place even for that to happen. The good news is….the answer will be provided to us in short order. In other words…i’ll believe it when i see it. that is simply because this team hasn’t earned ANY benefit of the doubt over the last few years.
      I also agree with you, and a few others, that changes take time to be implemented. The same thoughts i expressed a couple years ago when this team started to rebuild itself annually with piece work changes starting with the termination of Capers. The Packers (Murphy) had 2 choices..if he was paying attention. Tear the bandage off in one swift painful move and start rebuilding immediately, or as the Packers (Murphy) chose….Make one major move annually and ease the bandage off slowly to ease the pain. The problem is….dealing with it annually just prolongs the process, time this franchise doesn’t have with Rodgers, and here….is where it could get worse…much worse. IF the Packers have another losing season, then it is Murphy (The last sacrificial lamb standing) who is probably shown the door, and the whole rebuild starts over with a new President. So in essence, the last 3 seasons…..wasted time.
      When in fact changes should have been made back in early 2015 IMO. 3 very important reasons why….(1) McCarthy deserved to be let go then…(2) Ted had problems, and everyone knew it….(3) Rodgers was only 31 years old at the time.
      Sorry for the novel. Thanks for reading.

      1. Jason Parker August 25, 2019


        Ok, good, I was getting ready to call the police

        Why don’t you send one of those novels as a post

      2. PF4L August 25, 2019

        I got people spell checking me in here…i’m not taking any chances Sparky.

        How about asking nicely.

        1. PF4L August 25, 2019

          G D viking fans (smfh)

  14. Cheese August 25, 2019

    Didn’t the NFL botch a game last year that was supposed to be in Mexico City but the field wasn’t ready? So everyone who bought tickets and made travel arrangements was screwed. Throw in the HOF game along with Thursdays preseason debacle and this seems to be a common theme…
    I watched part of that game Thursday and it was total garbage. I wanted to turn it off the moment I saw Rodgers wasn’t playing and I probably should have. Why Kizer is still on this team I’m not sure. He was the worst QB in the league a few years ago, right alongside Hundley 1.0. I don’t care if he was a rookie playing for the Browns. Baker Mayfield was a rookie for the Browns last year and he didn’t look anywhere close to as bad as Kizer (Hundley 2.0). Kizer still looks like crap, yet we all get to hear about his “possible potential.” Whatever.
    I saw that our pal PF4L got himself onto the injured reserve list. Hope you bounce back quicker than that child abuser AP after he tore up his ACL, juiced a bunch of steroids, then a few moths later rushed for nine yards short of 2,000yds. Or I suppose a much better example would be to mimic Jordy Nelson and win the comeback player of the year award. Motorcycles are no joke. It doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are. My friend was a motorcycle course instructor. One day he was cruising down a residential street at 30mph and BOOM, some 80 year old guy with Parkinsons blew a stop sign and my friend T-boned him, flying all the way onto the grass on the other side of the street. The old guy just kept on going, then showed up around ten minutes later, drove up over the curb and had no idea he had hit anyone. Police took his license on the spot. My friend broke his femur, had multiple surgeries, and his body has been messed up ever since. Stay safe out there. We can’t afford to lose any top commenters to injury.

    1. PF4L August 26, 2019

      Thank you my friend, always kind words, much appreciated.
      I don’t see myself going anywhere, i might be on IR, but i’m a team player.
      I remember a few months ago or so, being cut and put on waivers. Luckily no one claimed me even though the vikings seemed to have serious interest in me when they heard i was a fan.

  15. Packersfan1234 August 26, 2019

    Boy are you off base on this one!! Nagy hasnt and wont play any of his starters in pre-season. Is been well documented. Bad reporting here need to do a little research before making bold statements as these!!