The U.S. Navy Leap Frogs parachute team was told by CBS to cancel its performance at Thursday night's NFL Ravens-Steelers game on the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks because of safety concerns, Navy officials said Thursday.
The parachute team had planned to perform at 7:45 p.m. EST ahead of the kickoff for the nationally televised game. However, CBS officials told the Navy Leap Frogs they that they did not feel comfortable with the performance because of the camera system installed above the field at the M&T Bank Stadium, the Baltimore Ravens home field.
Many broadcast companies use a series of wires that hang over football fields to offer viewers up close angles of games. However, CBS uses a more complex system rather than the conventional 4-point system that allows more entry points for a parachute team.
Despite the additional wires, the Leap Frogs' safety officer and jump master felt confident with the entry plan they had devised for the performance, said MC1 Fletcher Gibson, the Navy Leap Frogs' spokesman.
The Navy Leap Frogs team is a 15-person team made up by Navy SEALs. The team has performed across the country since it was started in 1974.
Gibson said the team is disappointed with the decision by CBS to cancel the performance, especially on the anniversary of 9/11. He said the team has performances canceled because of weather, but it's rare for the performance to be canceled a day ahead for technical reasons, Gibson said.
"We had serious safety concerns given the lines and the cabling for this game and we brought those concerns to the Ravens," said Jen Sabatelle, a CBS spokeswoman.
Ravens officials said the team had to take the broadcast company's recommendation.
"CBS-TV has installed cables around the field and recommended to cancel jumpers for safety reasons," Kevin Byrne, a Ravens spokesman, wrote in an email to Military.com.
The decision for Thursday's game could also have implications on the annual Army-Navy college football game that is scheduled to be played this December in Baltimore and broadcast by CBS. The Navy's Leap Frogs and the U.S. Army Golden Knight parachute teams traditionally perform before the game.
Sabatelle said it would be too early to determine whether the same safety concerns would exist for the parachute teams ahead of the Army-Navy game.
Gibson said the team was concerned by the Army-Navy game performance, but "we will hopefully have more time to come up with a better way of convincing them."
-- Michael Hoffman can be reached at Mike.Hoffman@monster.com