The NFL is adamant about moving ahead with the Oakland Raiders – Los Angeles Chargers game in Oakland on Sunday, despite unhealthy air quality from the catastrophic California wildfires. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry, and the NFL needs to tread carefully to avoid the latter.
It’s scary to think that Raider players wearing masks at Thursday’s practice could be asked to play a full game in those conditions. The wildfires raged through the Bay Area for the last five days, leaving destruction and tragedy in their wake. For the surrounding areas, it has left smoky skies and unsafe air. Schools and places of business have been closed after health advisory warnings. Spare the Air alerts were issued for the Bay Area.
The Air Quality Index rated the air quality at 180 on Thursday, which is unhealthy for older adults, children, and individuals with preexisting health conditions.
Yet, the NFL wants to wait things out and see if the situation improves ahead of Sunday’s game.
“We continue to monitor air quality conditions in the Bay Area and are in close communication with both the Raiders and Chargers, as well as local authorities,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora told The Mercury News on Thursday. “At this point, the game remains scheduled for Sunday in Oakland.”
There are already other options on the table for the NFL to choose instead of risking a game in Oakland. Not only is there concern for the players on the field, but fans also have to be taken into consideration, if the game goes on as scheduled.
Swapping home stadiums for the week seems to be the perfect plan for Sunday’s divisional match-up. With the StubHub Center already occupied on that day with a Major League Soccer game, it would likely mean a return for the Chargers to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has already given his blessing on a one-day return for the Chargers. However, as of now, his office hasn’t received any requests from the NFL to use the site.
“I am not aware of any request that has come from the NFL to date,” said Faulconer’s chief of staff, Aimee Faucett, per The San Diego Union-Tribune. “We are always happy to help other cities during times like these.”
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is also an option with the San Francisco 49ers headed out of town to play the Washington Redskins, but the air quality in that area may not be any better than it is in Oakland.
The obvious solution for the NFL is to move the game to Qualcomm Stadium, while handing out the necessary refunds in the process. Since fans in San Diego aren’t exactly happy with Chargers’ ownership at the moment, it could just as easily turn into a home game for the Raiders, and the NFL wouldn’t have to make any changes to the schedule for the second meeting between the two teams in December.
There’s no sense in risking anyone’s health by keeping the game in Oakland.