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BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens were practically running on hot coals as they scrimmaged the Washington Redskins on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.
With temperatures skyrocketing up to 100 degrees, the scorching conditions on the artificial turf made Gatorade an especially popular drink. Several parched players congregated around misting fans set up behind the benches.
Ravens head groundskeeper Don Follett wielded a thermometer a few inches above field level to record a staggering ground temperature of 141 degrees.
â€œIt was real messed up for a camera crew to put it out there,â€ linebacker Bart Scott quipped. â€œMentally, it kills the mindset. Tell me itâ€™s 90 and let us say, â€˜Youâ€™re lying to me.â€™
â€œItâ€™s kind of like the Mile High thing [altitude]. I donâ€™t want to see that stuff. Just scratch it out.â€
The temperatures on the field were boosted significantly by the presence of black particles of rubber silica, which absorbs heat. Ravens coach Brian Billick and Redskins coach Joe Gibbs agreed to cut out the final series of the scrimmage as a precautionary measure.
â€œMy toes are still burning,â€ quarterback Steve McNair said. â€œThatâ€™s part of our profession, and weâ€™ve got to deal with it, but itâ€™s rough.â€
Since Scott and the rest of the first-string defense only participated in passing drills that preceded the scrimmage, they got to take their pads off and sit on the bench.
It wasnâ€™t a luxury enjoyed by the starting offense, which sweated through a 10-snap series.
â€œIâ€™ve been in 123-degree weather in Arizona, but the field temperature here was 140, which is just insane,â€ tight end Todd Heap said. â€œPlus, you have to add in the humidity. You walk on the field and youâ€™re literally just drained right away.
â€œYou have to pump yourself up with Gatorade to get yourself going. Itâ€™s just brutal.â€
About the only Baltimore player that didnâ€™t seem to be affected by the unforgiving sunlight was new running back Willis McGahee. Heâ€™s accustomed to hot weather because he trains in the tropical climate of South Beach, Fla.
â€œI wasnâ€™t complaining about it,â€ McGahee said. â€œIâ€™m pretty sure it took a toll on other players. Iâ€™m an all-terrain guy.â€
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.