To help mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Navy's parachuting team was supposed to jump into the Baltimore Ravens stadium Thursday night to deliver the American flag and demonstrate their skills for the crowd.
But now, that isn't happening.
A view from a Leap Frog member's helmet cam during a practice jump over a football stadium; the team was scheduled to jump into the Baltimore Ravens stadium during a 9/11 commemoration event Thursday, but their jump was canceled at the last minute. (Image source: U.S. Navy Leap Frogs)
The U.S. Navy Leap Frogs posted this message on their Facebook page Thursday morning after hearing the "disappointing" news [emphasis added]:
Yesterday afternoon ... we were notified that the TV station carrying tonight's NFL game is not comfortable with your Navy Parachute Team jumping into their game on 9/11. The Baltimore Ravens were extremely supportive of the team jumping in but in the end we were notified that the TV affiliate took precedence. We are extremely disappointed and sad that on 9/11 we are not able to demonstrate the extreme professionalism of America's service members.
There is so much more than a parachute demonstration on this 13 year anniversary of 9/11 that every team member thinks about. #1 We are extremely thankful that we are active in our armed services to prevent any attack on our country ever again. #2 We, as a military demonstration team, get to show the country exactly how great our armed forces men and women are in person.
We remember 9/11 today and will never forget.
But why would CBS Sports, the network carrying the game, be uncomfortable with the Navy's elite parachute team -- comprised almost completely of active-duty Navy SEALs with a combined 30,000 jumps and decades of experience -- parachuting into the stadium?
"We had serious safety concerns given the wiring and the cabling in the stadium and we mentioned the concerns to the Ravens and ultimately the decision was made to not make the jump," a CBS Sports spokeswoman told TheBlaze.
A representative for the Ravens did not return a request for comment.
Petty Officer 1st Class Fletcher Gibson, a spokesman for the Leap Frogs, told TheBlaze that when their safety team did its initial walk-through at the stadium earlier in the week, they were shown the new cable system that operates the SkyCam, but were confident they could work around it.
"They told our guys during their safety walk-though that they have a new camera system with some complicated wiring, and our safety officer and team chief were able to evaluate the set up and determine which angle would work for entry into the stadium," Gibson said. "For the record, the stadium did look like a particularly tricky jump, but I'm sure we could've done it."
"When we schedule these jumps it's a collaborative decision, and they trust us to do what we do," he said. "Ultimately though they were not comfortable with it, so they canceled at the last minute."
That's likely the most frustrating part for the team, since it gets hundreds of requests for jump performances throughout the year. If the team, the network or the NFL had canceled earlier because of safety concerns, the jumpers could have found another 9/11 event to participate in.
"There's not much more to say about it, though. We were all looking forward to participating in the 9/11 ceremonies today, as were many fans and the Ravens themselves, and to have that cut at the last minute was very disappointing," Gibson said.
Within 45 minutes of their initial Facebook post, the Leap Frogs edited the message with slightly softer language: "We were notified your Navy Parachute Team will not be jumping into the Ravens/Steelers game on 9/11. The Baltimore Ravens were extremely supportive of the team jumping in but in the end it was not going to be favorable."
Gibson told TheBlaze they don't want to lay blame on anyone for canceling the event, but the team is certainly disappointed in the outcome.
"9/11 is a really significant even for anyone in the military, either for those who came into the service because of the attacks or decided to stay in to defend our country," he continued. "And Naval Special Warfare is especially tied into the history and heroism tied the Sept. 11th attacks, so we were really looking forward to this event."
The Leap Frogs are participating in the Navy Week activities in Baltimore over the weekend; they will jump at the Orioles stadium Sunday and at a local high school next week.
Watch (and fly along with) the Leap Frogs' jump into the Washington Nationals stadium from Sept. 10:
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