ASHBURN, Va. -- The rain drenched the field long before the thunder and lightning began, forcing both teams to the locker room. What Stephen Paea remembered was sitting inside for nearly two hours as the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens waited out the storm two years ago.
Eventually they returned, but the Bears' field remained a mess. Paea might be playing in similar muck Sunday when the Washington Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles, thanks to the impact of Hurricane Joaquin. Even if it doesn’t hit, the area is expected to get heavy rain Friday and Saturday. So Paea knows what he might encounter Sunday. Paea ended up getting hurt in that game, perhaps an indirect result of the weather. He used longer cleats in the second half and sprained a toe.
Here’s his first-person look at playing in sloppy weather:
On the long halftime: “My legs were tightening up when we came back. You have to warm up all over again. It was just brutal going to the locker room and sitting there an hour, an hour and a half. I had to re-tape because my tape was all wet. The Ravens ran the heck out of the ball and they never wanted to throw in that game, you could tell. They just ran the ball. But the field was like playing muddy football. It was bad.”
Mental challenge: “You have to be mentally tough to go out and play. They might run all day. It will be hard to run routes. I forgot how many people were slipping on their routes. Our offense, we were used to that field but the [Ravens] receivers came out with speed cleats and that didn’t work so the quarterback timing and all that is going to be affected. There were overthrown balls. Running routes took longer.”
Everyone complains about the weather: “Going against the O-line, they’re not coming off the ball. Everyone was complaining. If it was a normal day, everyone is hitting each other talking trash but it wasn’t like that. They were complaining about the weather and how, ‘you guys have the [crappiest] field.’ I think we did. I haven’t played at FedEx like that, but everyone that came to that field, they knew Chicago had the worst field. When it rained it got worse. They tried putting tarps over it and it didn’t work. ... You have to get used to it because you don’t know what the weather is going to be.”
Adjusting: “I used longer cleats, I think they were an inch. I put the inch screws in the front -- as defensive linemen we have to get off the ball and as long as the front of the cleat had a grip on it … I had the inch-long cleats in front and the normal ones (a half-inch) in the back. It was just for support. But that still didn’t work.”