The NFL Lockout focused on 2 major points this off-season, and those 2 things were money and player health and safety. While the players and owners have agreed on how to split 9 BILLION dollars, the player’s health and safety clauses leave a lot to be desired.
Concussions, long-term health were the main points of contention, yes, the players long-term health should be first and foremost, concussions as we are learning more and more every day, lead to even more serious conditions later in life. But the one major issue that has begun to creep up more and more in the National Football League is the conditions of the playing surface in several NFL stadiums has come under fire since the Philadelphia Eagles played in the Vet, which caused the cancellation of a pre season game against the Baltimore Ravens. Then, we move onto the tray system that Giants Stadium installed. Yea, I am not touching that one. Fast forward to the 2006 when the New England Patriots were forced by the NFL to change the field at the 5-year-old Gillette Stadium from grass to Field Turf, after the team lost a game to the Jets which was played on a sub par muddy field. Heinz Field, Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers routinely by the end of November, is completely chewed up, and has poor foot quality, Houston’s Reliant Stadium which has hosted a Super Bowl, has the worst field in the NFL of all the southern market teams.
Now we get to today, a day in which the Chicago Bears, were supposed to host a Training Camp practice at Soldier Field for the fans was deemed too treacherous for the players for a practice for the fans. Hello, pre-season games start NEXT WEEK! How on earth does a field that hasn’t hosted a game since late January, not pristine and green? The City of Chicago that owns Soldier Field has offered repeatedly to the Chicago Bears that they would rid the stadium of natural grass and install Field Turf, to only be refused.
The National Football League and the National Football League Players Association has to step in and rewrite the rules on field quality standards. Out of the 31 National Football League Stadiums,9 are domed stadiums (Arizona is domed but the field retracts and is grass as well as Reliant Stadium chronicled before), 22 are outdoor, 18 of these stadiums are grass fields. Of the 23 teams that play in open air stadiums, the New York Giants and Jets, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals,and Baltimore Ravens are the only teams to play their home games on Artificial Turf. The teams that play in the Southern part of the United States, which are optimized for growing and maintaining grass, should still be allowed to play on it, as well as multi use facilities, such as the O.co Coliseum in Oakland and Sun Life Stadium which both host Major League Baseball teams. With the Florida Marlins moving into their own stadium next season on the site of the famed Miami Orange Bowl, the Dolphins will be able to replace the stadium and have grass grow all year round. Even Aloha Stadium which hosts the NFL Pro Bowl has elected to use Field Turf.
The stadiums in question are Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI, Soldier Field in Chicago, Lincoln FInancial Field in Philadelphia, FedEx Field in Landover, MD, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, and Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver. These buildings fall into bad weather areas that players are put into the most danger of playing on a bad field during the most important parts of the season.
The only course of action that the NFL and NFL Players Association has in this matter is to enact a rule that forces teams to get with the times and help the players out. In 2009, Wes Welker blew his knee out on a non-contact play in Houston’s Reliant Stadium in Week 17, now what team wants to lose one of their best players going into the playoffs, in a play that should never have happened.
Every year the NFL Players Association holds a survey of the NFL’s playing fields. In 2010, 1,619 active players from the various 32 teams voluntarily participated in the poll, which lasted from September through November.
Now that the votes are in and tallied, listed below are the rankings and results (via the NFLPA official site).
Top 10 Best Artificial Playing Fields
1. Lucas Oil Stadium (Colts)
2. New Meadowlands Stadium (Jets/Giants)
3. Louisiana Superdome (Saints)
4. Qwest Field (Seahawks)
5. Cowboys Stadium (Cowboys)
6. Georgia Dome (Falcons)
7. Gillette Stadium (Patriots)
8. Ford Field (Lions)
9. M&T Bank Stadium (Ravens)
10. Edward Jones Dome (Rams)
Top 10 Best Grass Playing Fields
1. University of Phoenix Stadium (Cardinals)
2. Raymond James Stadium (Buccaneers)
3. Qualcomm Stadium (Chargers)
4. Bank of America Stadium (Panthers)
5. Lambeau Field (Packers)
6. Sun Life Stadium (Dolphins)
7. Reliant Stadium (Texans)
8. Everbank Field (Jaguars)
9. Invesco Field at Mile High (Broncos)
10. LP Field (Titans)
- 678 players chose Heinz Field as the worst grass playing field in the NFL.
- 290 players chose the Metrodome as the worst artificial playing field in the NFL.
- 788 players chose the University of Phoenix Stadium as the best grass playing field in the NFL.
- 565 players chose Lucas Oil Stadium as the best artificial playing field in the NFL.
- 69% of the participating players preferred to play on a grass playing field.
- Around 90% of the players believe artificial turf causes more soreness and fatigue.
- 82% of the players said artificial fields are more likely to lead to injuries.
*For full survey results, click here (PDF).*
Thanks to helmet2helmet.net and nflplayers.com for making the survey results easy to find.