December 19, 2011
In case you're wondering what would have happened if the power had kept going out at Candlestick Park on Monday night, and the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers had to be stopped for whatever reason … well, the NFL now has a primer and reminder on Rule 17 of the league's official rule book, and we now know how things would go down in a general and specific sense.
According to the Twitter account of former NFL VP of officiating and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira, "If the game were to get suspended it would resume at some point at the exact point it was suspended. Stats and scores would remain."
According to the rule book, though, things aren't quite that cut-and-dried.
The NFL affirms the position that in most circumstances all regular-season and postseason games should be played to their conclusion. If, in the opinion of appropriate League authorities, it is impossible to begin or continue a game due to an emergency, or a game is deemed to be imminently threatened by any such emergency (e.g., severely inclement weather, lightning, flooding, power failure), the following procedures (Articles 5 through 11) will serve as guidelines for the Commissioner and/or his duly appointed representatives.
The Commissioner has the authority to review the circumstances of each emergency and to adjust the following procedures in whatever manner he deems appropriate. If, in the Commissioner's opinion, it is reasonable to project that the resumption of an interrupted game would not change its ultimate result or adversely affect any other inter-team competitive issue, he is empowered to terminate the game.
At approximately 8 p.m. Pacific time Monday night, a senior NFL executive told ESPN that if there had been another outage beyond the two that happened, the first plan would be to stay as long as possible and try to finish the game, unless a public hazard had to be considered.
If that happened, and the game would have been suspended, the NFL would look to reschedule the first possible completion. Had it been impossible to complete the Monday night game at Candlestick Park, the game could have been moved to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the home of the Oakland Raiders. NFL teams without two franchises could probably avail themselves of nearby college stadiums ... or, games can be moved farther out.
The NFL had a far more serious problem when the Saints were upended with the rest of the city of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Saints went on the road and played three "home games" at the Alamodome. And when snow caused the roof of the Metrodome to collapse in 2010, the Minnesota Vikings played a December "home game" at Detroit's Ford Field.
You can read Rule 17 in its entirety right here.
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