The NFL owners went to bed Wednesday night leaning toward playing this weekend. But when they woke up Thursday morning, more logistical issues surfaced from various cities involving security and travel, making it difficult for the games to take place.
Before commissioner Paul Tagliabue decided not to have the games played, 90 percent of the owners were initially leaning toward playing. But the number dwindled to 50 percent, with longtime owners like Art Modell and Wellington Mara being strong voices against playing this weekend.
Giants affected by attacks
The New York Giants have been directly impacted by the terrorist tragedy in their city.
For instance, their indoor practice bubble has been designated as a potential makeshift morgue for bodies that may be pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, sources said. The Giants Stadium parking lot is serving as a command post.
Also, Chris Mara, son of owner Wellington Mara, has apparently lost two of his closest friends in the act of violence, according to team sources.
Plus, during Wednesday night's conference call with NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw, the 31 teams' player representatives opposed playing the games. One player representative said the player vote was a unanimous 31-0. But another rep told ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli that the vote was 17-11, with only 28 team reps participating. I later learned the 11 votes for playing the games weren't adamant in their support.
The player representatives then voted to make a unanimous recommendation against playing this weekend.
"There are too many problems with playing," Upshaw said Wednesday before the meeting. "We're too close to the weekend, and we don't know enough to move forward. Travel is a big question mark for our players. Do we really want a stadium full of people with the threat still hanging over our heads?
"College football games are getting cancelled. The NFL needs to take the lead. I know it's a nightmare, but we need to just play a 15-game schedule and deal with it. I mean, I'm driving to work today (in Washington, D.C.), and the Pentagon is still on fire. We have games in New York, Washington and Baltimore. It's just not appropriate, in my opinion."
The NFL will make a decision about the revised schedule in the next few days, but it could come as early as Friday. There are two different proposals:
Postpone the Week 2 games until Jan. 5 and 6 -- currently the dates for the wild-card weekend. The playoff field would be reduced from 12 teams to eight, with just one wild-card team qualifying for the playoffs from the NFC and one from the AFC (instead of three from each conference).
Cancel all games and proceed with a 15-game schedule, except for San Diego, which has a bye this week and therefore would have its 16-game schedule calculated in a manner to achieve some sort of balance.
The NFL Players Association and some owners favor the latter route.
Meanwhile, league personnel were affected by the tragedy in several ways:
League sources say one spouse of an NFL Management Council attorney was above the 70th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center and did not escape the building's collapse.
Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin's son, Tim, was more fortunate. Coughlin's son was working on the 60th floor of the second tower hit by an airliner, but he was able to escape.
Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi said it will be difficult for his organization and team to focus on football with its New Jersey team offices just across the river from where the Manhattan tragedy occurred.
"Everybody here knows somebody involved. Everybody has friends who were either involved directly or indirectly," said Accorsi. "It's also different for our players. Our practice field has a direct vision of Manhattan. The most dominant vision is the World Trade Center -- or what used to be the World Trade Center. Now it's smoke. Our players are stunned. We're all stunned."
Accorsi and a handful of other Giants employees who live in Manhattan spent Tuesday night at Giants Stadium offices. Accorsi tried sleeping on his couch, but he was alarmed at a report saying there was a truck with explosives discovered in the stadium parking lot.
"As it turned out, they found an abandoned truck on the turnpike and brought it to the stadium because there's a command post here, but it was still pretty unnerving," he said.