The Blame Game
A couple issues back I mentioned that a former Houston Texans punter was suing the agency that operates Reliant Stadium after sustaining a career-ending injury on the turf. Over the past month field conditions have come under fire again, following the early January Redskins/Seahawks game at FedEx Field that resulted in major injuries to two players: Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus, and the Redskins superstar rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III tore both his ACL and LCL ligaments. Both teams placed blame on the condition of the field (though neither filed an official complaint), with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saying, “”It was horrible. It’s a horrible field. It’s as bad as a field can get for being dry. e deserve better.”
While conditions were clearly not ideal, the field did meet NFL compliance requirements for impact hardness and passed a visual inspection prior to play. FedEx Field, like most professional venues, hosted a variety of games and events in the months prior to the game, which may have contributed to the condition of the field, but there were no complaints about the state of the field at the game held a week prior. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league will look into whether teams will be required to resod parts of their fields prior to play, but said the league is reluctant to mandate the type of surface each team uses.
Artificial turf could be a solution – the surface is consistent, it’s not affected by foot traffic from events – but a 10-year study sponsored by the NFL concluded that there was a 67 percent higher incidence of ACL tears on artificial field turf compared to natural grass.
There is clearly no one-size-fits-all field, and no way to guarantee that every player who walks on a field will walk off uninjured. So, what steps should the NFL take to regulate surfaces: stricter compliance requirements? Fewer games? Email me your thoughts; I’d love to hear your opinions.
Another fantastic STMA Conference and Expo has wrapped up, and what a great event it was. Attendance was excellent and sunny Daytona Beach certainly provided a welcome respite from the frozen Northeast. It was great to meet so many of you and to hear your feedback. In case you missed it, next month’s issue will feature a full wrap-up of the show.