Wrigley Field hasn’t hosted a football game since the Chicago Bears packed it up and headed to Soldier Field following the 1970 season. This Saturday, the drought ends when Northwestern hosts the University of Illinois in the first ever Allstate Wrigleyville Classic.
A sellout crowd of over 40,000 is expected to be on hand to witness this historic event, making it a resounding success from a financial standpoint; but the planned layout of the field has drawn some controversy. To make the field suitable for football, one of the end zones had to be placed along the right field wall. Like, RIGHT along the right field wall. The goalpost is literally screwed into place, which means immediately behind it is the unforgiving ivy covered brick wall that made Wrigley Field famous.
Granted, there will be padding in place, but safety concerns are such that today it was announced that both teams would use the same end zone and avoid the brick wall hazard altogether. What does that mean for interceptions and fumble returns and such? We have no idea, but we’re sure it will be total chaos!
Some might call this all a bunch of needless worrying, but you don’t need to look too far to find evidence to the contrary. The Arena Football League has been playing on fields surrounded by hockey-style walls (minus the safety glass!) for years now. As expected, the tight quarters have made for some pretty brutal hits. Here are a few of the best examples.
Far be it from the AFL to shy away from the inherent danger that putting a wall next to a football game presents. In this promo video, the league explains that an AFL player generally takes three hits on a play.
- The player is hit by a defender.
- The player hits the ground.
- The player slams into a wall.
It’s all illustrated in dramatic slow motion in this video. How thrilled do you think this receiver was to find out that he’d been forever immortalized in a league sanctioned commercial about getting smashed into a wall? That’s just a shade less embarrassing than being posterized by a dunking point guard’s nutsack in the NBA.
In an ideal comedic setting, if you’re traveling at a high rate of speed towards a wall, it should be short enough that if you hit at the right angle, you’ll add a dazzling flip to the brain damage-y fun. Arena Football understands this, that’s why they don’t put up any of that pansy-ass safety glass that the NHL uses to shield its spectators from violence and destruction.
In yet another fun filled promo, the AFL reminds us of this fact by presenting shot after shot of players being completely obliterated and flying over the wall. How is this league not the most popular thing ever?
How Can You Choose Just One?
Over the wall hits are such a staple of the Arena Football League that this countdown show of the 20 greatest plays in AFL history (yes, we were surprised this existed also) dedicates the entire #7 spot just to “Over the Wall Hits.” Not just one hit, but all of them. Why? Because watching people hurtle over walls into unsuspecting fans is the best.
Warning Track? What’s a Warning Track?
Here’s a fun fact for you non-sports fans who have stuck with this completely sports related article this long…that patch of dirt in between the outfield grass and the outfield wall in baseball is called a “warning track.” Why? Because if you’re running after a home run ball that you have absolutely no chance of catching, the change of surface beneath your feet alerts you to this fact which, in turn, should prompt you to slow down and avoid a head on collision with a brick wall.
The Arena Football League doesn’t have warning tracks in the end zone. So how do you know when a possible touchdown pass is actually an uncatchable rocket destined for the upper grandstands? You flip over the wall and get a goddamn concussion, that’s how.
Receiver Takes Out Waitress
Players on the field aren’t the only ones who face danger when football and fans are placed too close together. In this video, an over the wall hit becomes an impending workman’s comp lawsuit when a waitress gets completely blindsided by a wide receiver. In a move that proves classy athletes exist at every level, the guy goes back to make sure the waitress is alright before returning to play.
The slow motion replays that pretend to be a means of reviewing the play but are clearly just a reason to show that poor waitress getting demolished over and over and over again are just a little less classy.