The NFL's 100th Anniversary May Have Taken Down A.J. Green

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Photo: Bryan Woolston (AP)

The first major injury of training camp belongs to Bengals WR A.J. Green. The seven-time pro bowler landed awkwardly trying to make a catch in 7-on-7 drills on Saturday, and had to be carted off the field. He left the building on crutches, and while the Bengals are hopeful it’s just a sprained ankle, Green will undergo an MRI. You could chalk it up to bad luck, or a century-old curse. Your choice.


Update, 3:35 p.m. EDT: Green has torn ligaments and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. He won’t be ready for the start of the regular season.

The very first open practice of the summer was not held at the usual practice fields next to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. It was held in Dayton as part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary celebrations, because Dayton was one of the NFL’s 13 original cities, and the site of the first NFL game. A charming, past-honoring reason to hold a day of camp there, but unfortunately for Green, the turf isn’t exactly up to modern-NFL standards.

According to Sports Illustrated, there were questions about the quality of the field even before Green got hurt.

[A]fter working there for an hour on Saturday, several Bengals staffers were frustrated that Green’s injury happened on a field that they saw as subpar. One mentioned that players were sliding all over the place during what was a shorter-than-usual camp practice. Another saw pebbles lodged into the turf.

The practice was held at Welcome Stadium, home to the University of Dayton football team. That wasn’t the plan, originally. The Dayton Triangles vs. Columbus Panhandles on Oct. 3, 1920, is considered by many the first NFL game, and that site is now a public park, Triangle Park, which features baseball and soccer facilities. The NFL wanted to construct a turf field at the site to host this Bengals practice, but local groups protested the plan because Triangle Park may be the site of two separate American Indian burial grounds. After the city surveyed the proposed site of the football field with ground-penetrating radar, it called off the plans.

And so the Bengals’ practice was moved to the university and its questionable field, and so Green went down. A direct line of causality that also, if you are mystically inclined, goes a long way toward explaining why the Bengals are the way they are.