INEXCUSABLE

Above:  Something that shouldn't have happened

Above: Something that shouldn’t have happened

by Ryan Meehan

I don’t know a goddamned thing about electricity.  I couldn’t tell you how a circuit breaker worked if you had my balls in a trash compactor a second before it was about to be turned on.  The world of electricity remains a mystery to me and it probably always will.  So I’m going to sound like a major prick criticizing something that I know nothing about. 

When the lights went out during the third quarter of the Super Bowl on Sunday, only one word crossed my mind:  Inexcusable.

I’ve been giving the city of New Orleans a lot of shit over the past few years because I don’t really think it’s a city that can sustain a healthy NFL franchise, let alone a Super Bowl.  One of the arguments that I’ve heard over the past few days is that this could have happened anywhere and that it’s unfair to single New Orleans out as electrical problems can happen in any major city that holds an event like this.

That’s very true…it COULD have happened anywhere.  But it didn’t happen anywhere, it happened in New Orleans.  In case you missed it, New Orleans is the city in Louisiana that I said in two separate columns this past week was not ready for the return of the Super Bowl.

As it turns out, there were a lot of people who were aware that this could be a potential problem.  Check out this article from ABC News on Tuesday:

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/super-bowl-power-outage-remains-unclear-18405944

Perhaps the most damning quote from this story is the following:

“Tests on the electrical feeders that connect incoming power from utility lines to the stadium showed decay and “a chance of failure,” state officials warned in a memo dated Oct. 15. The documents, obtained by the AP through a records request, also show that Entergy expressed concern about the reliability of the service before the Super Bowl.”

Holy fuck.  You have got to be kidding me.  Do you mean to tell me that the site for this game was decided years ago and it took somebody until three and a half months ago to stress the fact that the lights might go out?  This is a game changer (no pun intended).

Like I said, I’m not that knowledgeable about how power lines are installed or repaired.  However, it would seem to me like replacing the “decaying” lines would be a lot more reliable solution than repairing them.  But what do I know?

Apparently not as much as the Kommissar, because according to him New Orleans handled everything well.

‘To New Orleans’ relief, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the city did a “terrific” job hosting its first pro-football championship in the post-Katrina era.  “I fully expect that we will be back here for Super Bowls,” he said, noting a backup power system was poised to kick in but wasn’t needed once the lights came back.”

Of course it wasn’t needed once the lights came back on, that’s not why or when you need a backup power supply.  Did I fall asleep during the part where logic was redefined?  That’s an insane thing to say.  I suppose once the floodwaters receded back in 2005 there was no need for the levees as well, huh?

Look, regardless of my education about electricity and power I don’t feel like I am in any way out of line by suggesting that New Orleans was not ready to host the Super Bowl.  The power went out because there was some kind of abnormality in the feed that caused a shortage of power to the lights in the ceiling.  The same ceiling that is attached to the roof of the Mercedes Benz Superdome.

That roof?  You mean the one that came very close to blowing off of the rest of that building during Katrina?  Get right out of town.  I would have never guessed in a million years that building wouldn’t be in adequate shape to sustain an entire week of Super Bowl hype, the game itself, and one of the most wasteful halftime shows in recent memory.  I’m not sure what it is, but something about the Superdome has always sort of weirded me out.  It has a lot of very Astrodomesque and Metrodomesque like qualities to it, and it’s always seemed to me like it was a stadium that wasn’t really built for long term usage.  Tropicana field in Tampa would fall under the same category.

If you’re going to build a facility like that, that’s fine.  It’s up to your metropolitan area to make that decision.

But you shouldn’t be getting to host Super Bowls.  What happened on Sunday was something that there is absolutely no excuse for.  None.  I don’t want to hear about how this and that wasn’t up to speed or how the Commissioner thinks it’s no big deal that the power went out during the most crucial part of the biggest sporting event of the year.  Not going to listen to it.  If the city or the energy company put out a press release this very moment saying that space monkeys came down from the moon and fucked the power out, everybody involved in this ordeal better have a good goddamned reason why there wasn’t enough protection from moon monkeys that like to fuck stadiums that you probably wouldn’t even let your stepchildren play soccer in.

Mistakes do happen, but on a stage this large it’s very difficult to swallow as fans that 1) this was something that could have probably been avoided if the city of New Orleans (or the NFL) had spent a little bit more money making sure everything that supplied power to the stadium had been replaced, and 2) this outage didn’t affect the momentum of the game.  Did it make the game more interesting?  Of course it did…but as much as I would like to see an interesting game, I’d also like to see a fair one and I think the commissioner and the league owes it to the integrity of the game to make sure this happens.  It’s my own personal belief that the NFL was more concerned with getting the Super Bowl back to New Orleans than it was making sure the game went off without a hitch.

And that’s inexcusable.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “INEXCUSABLE

  1. There’s a few of facts in play here that made this happen. I have an extensive background in engineering, and I would say the use of the word “inexcusable” stops a bit short. I would use the word “criminal.”

    1) It doesn’t surprise this happened in New Orleans. As the largest city in Haiti, New Orleans takes all the problems of America and magnifies them. A great deal of the damage that happened during Katrina would have never happened if the corrupt city and state officials hadn’t shaved the construction and maintenance of the flood control system from Army Corps of Engineers’ specifications. So that nobody would pay attention to the fact that a lot of corrupt politicians literally stole that city into being the disaster it became, we had to listen to a lot of static about how “George Bush hates black people.”

    2) I knew somebody was going to come out with the “I warned these guys there was a problem” memo that was written well in advance. I call this the “Roger Boisjoly” rule (google his name, you’ll see what I mean).

    This wasn’t like when your microwave draws too much power while you are cooking a burrito and trips the circuit breaker. Major structures like the Superdome have complex and inter-connected power systems, all of which have established standards for both maintenance and inspection. To top it off, there are established certification processes for that construction, inspection, and maintenance by various government agencies. In other words, there is simply no fucking way somebody didn’t know the power system in that building was at risk given the load that would be placed on it during the Super Bowl. Those people who ignored the warnings need to be considered for criminal charges for a host of reasons, not the least of which is…

    3) People’s lives were deliberately placed at risk. First of all, when the power fails, that means even with back-up generators, many of the modern safety features in a large building become partially or completely non-functional in a matter of minutes. Stop to consider what a completely in-the-dark evacuation of the Superdome would have been like.

    That’s an important point because electricity and heat have a very special relationship. In major electrical failures, fire is always a real possibility. I cringe thinking about what would have happened if any one of a number of susceptible components would have burst into flame. Imagine what we’d be talking about today had the fire marshal ordered the Superdome to be evacuated. Imagine what we’d be talking about today if here had been a fire. And imagine what we’d be talking about if that fire had caused casualties or deaths…

  2. Reblogged this on Dubsism and commented:

    Meehan admits he doesn’t know about electricity, but J-Dub does, and you will definitely want to read his response to Meehan’s thoughts on the Super Bowl power outage.

  3. I suddenly have this visual of Gregg Williams, Joe Vitt and Sean Payton shored up in the bowels of the Super Dome somewhere, flipping a power switch and giggling merrily. Payback’s a bitch, Rog.

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