The NFL’s first game in Germany was a site to see for the league’s fans awake in the early morning with NFL Network in their television subscriptions. But for Seattle Seahawks veteran defender Bruce Irvin, it was more like a nightmare.
Irvin criticized the NFL over the playing conditions at Allianz Arena in Munich for the NFL’s first ever regular season game in Germany. The veteran defensive end made his displeasure about the playing surface known on Twitter.
“The NFL made us fly 10 hours to play on a terrible a** field like that s**** Krazy,” tweeted Irvin.
The Seahawks lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Munich, 21-16. Most of the responses to the defensive end’s tweet in some form or fashion reminded Irvin that both teams played on the same surface and that he can’t blame the loss on the field conditions.
But that doesn’t seem to be Irvin’s overall point. Rather, Irvin appears to be pointing out the dangers of playing in poor conditions, which has been a problem for the NFL International Series previously.
NFL Previously Cancelled Game in Mexico
One can cry sour grapes over Irvin’s tweet, but there’s a history of poor playing conditions in the NFL International Series.
In 2018, the NFL deemed the playing surface at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City to be in such bad shape that the league moved the Kansas City Chiefs–Los Angeles Rams matchup back to the United States just days before kickoff.
“The decision is based on the determination — in consultation with the NFLPA and following a meeting and field inspection this afternoon by NFL and club field experts as well as local and independent outside experts — that the playing field at Estadio Azteca does not meet NFL standards for playability and consistency and will not meet those standards by next Monday,” the league wrote in a statement during November 2018.
The issues with the field conditions were fixed for the following season when the NFL scheduled another game at Estadio Azteca. Next, the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals will renew the league’s International Series in Mexico City during Week 11 on November 21.
But field conditions will likely remain a topic at these locations because the fields are not specifically designed for NFL games. The only international field that alters its playing surface for the NFL is at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which was built in 2019 with the idea of hosting both soccer and NFL games on their specific playing fields.
Field Conditions in Munich, Germany
Other than a couple reports about the Seahawks players changing cleats, the NFL Network broadcast crew mostly glossed over the poor field conditions at Allianz Arena in Munich.
But there was a lot of discussion about it during the game on Twitter.
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady slipped on one of the most memorable plays of the game. Brady lined up as a wide receiver, ran a route and was preparing to catch a pass in his direction when he lost his footing.
The playing conditions helped the Seahawks on that occasion, but again, that wasn’t Irvin’s overall point. The 35-year-old sounds like he just wants to see safer conditions for both teams in future international NFL games.