NFL can, and should, force the Bears to use FieldTurf

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The real vs. fake debate continues in Chicago, regarding the playing surface at Soldier Field.  Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times makes a great case for switching from grass (or something that once was grass) to FieldTurf.

A far more persuasive case eventually could be made by 280 Park Avenue.

Lost in the talk regarding whether the Bears should or will rip up their grass (or something that once was grass) and install FieldTurf is the fact that the NFL has the absolute ability to force the Bears to do it.

As explained during today’s PFT Live, the NFL Game Operations manual provides as follows:  “Each home club is responsible for having the playing surface of its stadium well maintained and suitable for NFL play.  The League may require improvements to ensure compliance and such improvements will be at the Club’s expense.  Failure to maintain a playing field properly is considered a competitive issue and clubs that fail to do so may be subject to discipline.”

The key words are “competitive issue.”  Surely, Bears management believes that, despite the complaints from the team’s players, the Bears are better suited to deal with the field than the visiting team.  And so, for Bears management, it’s about obtaining a competitive advantage.

That has to be the reason.  Although Bears chairman George McCaskey claims that grass is safer (or, as Jensen explained it, that “there aren’t any studies that support that grass isn’t the safest playing surface for football”), the real question is whether a crappy, uneven, choppy grass field is safer than FieldTurf.  Our guess is that FieldTurf is safer than the place that in all fairness should be referred to as TurdField.

And it’s definitely not about the money.  As Jensen points out, FieldTurf would cost $750,000 with no annual maintenance fees.  The grass surface costs $500,000 per year.  So, basically, the Bears could put in new FieldTurf every second or third year and still come out ahead financially.

Clearly, it’s about giving the Bears an edge, and an unfair edge.  For that reason alone, the NFL should immediately order the Bears to install FieldTurf.

UPDATE: Here’s the video.

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90 responses to “NFL can, and should, force the Bears to use FieldTurf

  1. Can the NFL make the city of Chicago instead FieldTurf? Since, you know, the city of Chicago owns Solider Field? More specifically, the parks department?

  2. It can’t be that much of a competitive advantage if they have to cancel practice and their own players risk injury every time they step on the field. But would the NFL order the Bears to install FieldTurf without ordering the remaining grass teams to convert? How many teams currently play on grass? And could they convert before the season starts?

  3. How long would it take for FieldTurf to be installed? Is it something that would have to be an offseason thing, or could it be done in-season?

  4. So once again, the taxpayers of Chicago have to foot the bill for another stadium/field project….because the NFL office in New York says so. How many ways can my tax-paying ass say “hell no?”

  5. They need to get their fatass QB to quit stuffing his fat diabetic face whith deep dish and Krispy Kremes and go mow the damn lawn.

    The turf better be in pristine condition for Sept 11, so my Falcons can take them Bears apart.

  6. Since both teams play on the same surface how is this an advantage for the Bears ? Or do they have some kind of super cleat no other team has ?

  7. Actually there are studies that show grass is safer.

    80% of torn ACL’s occur on the turf, not Natural grass.

    And another point: This website was sooooo adamant about “paying the employees affected by the lock out”…..So now you want to put in FieldTurf and fire the grounds grew at Soldier Field?

  8. As a Steelers fan, I miss when their turf was so bad balls would get stuck in the sod. but in all seriousness how hard is it to get GOOD grass?

  9. Advantage? Really? A lot of high school kids (in the non rich communities) play or practice on horrible sh!tty grass fields.

    These overpaid divas can surely play in mud, dirt, and grass like kids do… If slipping on grass is a problem then they are not much of an athlete…

    Football is supposed to be played outside, in the weather. It is a game for tough men. Not cry babies that complain about the grass being too slippery. What a joke.

    What is next? Do the fans in Seattle need to be quiet during the game? The 12th man is also an advantage to their home team…

  10. Chicago can’t block very well in the trenches and their speed on both sides of the ball is their best asset. I’m pretty sure they aren’t sticking with grass to cultivate a home field advantage.

    I’ll offer $50 to the first person who can find footage of a game where an opponent has come to Soldier Field and slipped and slid everywhere while Chicago’s players had zero trouble. I’m sure the Bears’ familiarity with the crappy field can help, but it’s not like their opponents are slipping on banana peels while the Bears gracefully glide across the field with ease.

    Correlation is not causation, but it’s true that Chicago was one of the healthiest teams in football; there is some evidence that catastrophic knee injuries are still more common on artificial surfaces.

    Chicago has one of the lowest capacity stadiums in the NFL and the Bears’ ownership does not own the field. Maintaining a grass field does mean maintaining jobs and status (in this case, a very crappy status) for the Chicago park district, and I think the politics of that do make a difference.

  11. The worst field in the league is in Houston. No doubt about it. They could put in a new field in a week. New England did it after getting beat by the Jets in a muddy field at home.

  12. Fat qb? Cutler is tougher and more athletic then Matt Ryan who stands in the pocket all day. Cutler takes hits and dives into the endzone while getting hit.

    Bears will eat Matt Ryan up Week 1.

    Bear Down!

  13. The Packers didn’t have a problem winning the NFC Title at Soldier Field.

    All putting FieldTurf in will do will give the Bears a nicer surface to do nothing with.

  14. Not really sure how the statement you provided from the NFL Game Operations manual says the NFL can madate FieldTurf on a team, forcing them to make improvements or otherwise face discipline doesn’t mean they have to rip up and put artificial surface in, just make the grass better. Not to mention . . . has the NFL even ever threatened the Bears on this issue? The decision not to play on it last week came from the Bears themselves not the NFL.

  15. Wow…Just Wow!

    Irresponsible Journalisim at its finest. There was a sceintific study on FieldTurf, at it was proved to have cancerous qaulities in those small pellets. The study is 3/4 years old, but I still remember it due to the controversy in DC Public Schools having the same turf installed.

    I will be back to post the article if I can find it again….

    BTW – They only messed a team scrimmage, there was NOTHING comeptitvely going on last week at the Bears Stadium, so the NFL currently has no control of the situation.

  16. Game gets cancelled in the Vet a few years ago (for deservedly so) crappy field conditions.

    Bears have a similiar issue (gaps in the playing surface) and because it’s grass, the perception is its safer.

    Getting your foot caught in a rut, is gonna blow out your knee on grass or turf. Maybe if Urlacher drops in their first pre-season home game they’ll change their mind.

    Otherwise, I assume the league will turn a blind eye to a clear case of “home-field advantage”.

    Whats sick is the Bears just paid all this money to re-do the staidum and left that crappy turf behind

  17. Don’t his beloved Steelers play on grass as well? If I remember correctly, there grass is pretty shoddy too.

    They need to install what GB and Denver have, where its a synthetic base, with grass.

    It was a preseason practice, who cares?

    The field will be fine for the first game. Fake turf sucks, this is football, not tennis.

  18. Grass is the traditional football surface. If it was good enough for Butkus, It should be good enough for today’s players.

    The issue here isn’t grass vs. Fieldturf– it’s that the Chicago Park District is not doing their damn job.

    Let’s see if it improves now that the Bears have decided to take the matters into their own hands. If it doesn’t, then OK… I’ll be lobbying for Fieldturf right along with you.

    To say they are keeping it strictly for a home-field advantage is a stretch… possible, yes, but a stretch.

  19. Anyone knows that the home team on a grass field has the advantage. Tou know where there maybe a high on low spot,plus you know what length of cleats to wear at the start of the game.As you can see thats a huge advantage. As a football coach at the midget level we play on both surfaces and the fieldturf creates a level playing field for both teams. Our team has grass and everyone knows the high and low spots on our field,plus our field is rented out by our district and gets beat up bad.Fieldturf would be great but we can’t afford it.

  20. achap39 says:
    Aug 10, 2011 1:30 PM
    So once again, the taxpayers of Chicago have to foot the bill for another stadium/field project….because the NFL office in New York says so. How many ways can my tax-paying ass say “hell no?”

    I know you likely won’t read this, because you clearly didn’t read the article, but it will cost taxpayers less over time than the grass costs. It will save your tax-paying ass money.

  21. @paulitik74

    As much as it pains me as a Saints fan to compliment a Falcons fan (and give his comment thumbs up), I laughed pretty hard when I read that. Good form.

  22. Btw- ditching grass in all stadiums is ridiculous, as you have to look at climatic conditions and what they do to grass vs. turf. And to the dumb dumb who mentioned soccer and concerts, if you can stand on it, you can build a stage for concerts, and this is america, where we have sports that don’t suck, so who cares about foot fairies faking shin injuries for 3 hours to end in a 0-0 tie. I’d rather watch the bills play the browns.

  23. The Patriots switched to Turf in like 2 days before their 2006 season opener against the Bears because of how badly the field was messed up from concerts/etc. It really wasn’t hard.

  24. sowcrates says:
    Aug 10, 2011 1:33 PM
    Chicago can’t block very well in the trenches and their speed on both sides of the ball is their best asset. I’m pretty sure they aren’t sticking with grass to cultivate a home field advantage.

    I’ll offer $50 to the first person who can find footage of a game where an opponent has come to Soldier Field and slipped and slid everywhere while Chicago’s players had zero trouble. I’m sure the Bears’ familiarity with the crappy field can help, but it’s not like their opponents are slipping on banana peels while the Bears gracefully glide across the field with ease.

    Correlation is not causation, but it’s true that Chicago was one of the healthiest teams in football; there is some evidence that catastrophic knee injuries are still more common on artificial surfaces.

    Chicago has one of the lowest capacity stadiums in the NFL and the Bears’ ownership does not own the field. Maintaining a grass field does mean maintaining jobs and status (in this case, a very crappy status) for the Chicago park district, and I think the politics of that do make a difference.

    Watch Gale Sayers

  25. adogdc says:
    Aug 10, 2011 1:37 PM
    Wow…Just Wow!

    Irresponsible Journalisim at its finest. There was a sceintific study on FieldTurf, at it was proved to have cancerous qaulities in those small pellets. The study is 3/4 years old, but I still remember it due to the controversy in DC Public Schools having the same turf installed.
    =====================

    That study has been largely discredited, and most turf is made with a different infill than the one in question in that study.

    @derekjetersmansion- The Eagles field is artificial turf.

    One last thing, from someone who is in a related industry- calling it “FieldTurf” is like saying everyone who owns a car has a Ford. FieldTurf is a brand name of one of dozens of types of artificial field surfaces.

  26. Competitive advantage?

    Try blocking and tackling better then your opponent for once. Try not throwing stupid pics……

  27. most of you have missed the point: “Each home club is responsible for having the playing surface of its stadium well maintained and suitable for NFL play…”

    duh Bears are ultimately responsible for their field.

    However, I do agree with George McCaskey, no bears were hurt on that field last year, not even Cutler.

  28. I think they should give them what they want! May be they will be playing flag football next year. They should give them pink uniforms with rainbows on them! Trade in the cleats for slippers! Walter Payton would roll over in his grave if he herd this bs!

  29. paulitik74 says:Aug 10, 2011 1:30 PM

    “They need to get their fatass QB to quit stuffing his fat diabetic face whith deep dish and Krispy Kremes and go mow the damn lawn.”

    Geez, what did Jay Cutler ever do to you?

  30. Wait, so the “fair” thing to do would be to universally favor the clean-field, turf teams? Please. Maybe the NFL can and should force some people to stop being such blowhards about every little issue.

  31. damnyoulinelliot says: Aug 10, 2011 1:28 PM

    If Butkus played on that crap, Urlacher can play on that crap.
    —————————————————————
    I saw Butkus play….urlacher is no Butkus.

  32. It is a competitive disadvantage for sure. That is the only reason they allow it to stay in that state. The Bears and Steelers are the only teams in the NFL that are accustomed to playing on lumpy mud.

  33. The NFL should step in and require the Bears to do something about the field. Remember what happened to Wendell Davis on the bad turf in Philly in 1993? Cost the man his career. Does the league want a repeat of that? Fix the damn field and let’s play ball!

  34. Lambeau Field has grass and it is still immaculate in December and January. Not that hard to do. Pretty much water and light.

  35. If that is the case, then why the hell doesn’t the NFL make Oakland cover up that horrible infield dirt.

    Seriously… It’s 2011 and we can’t find a way to cover up dirt for a football game. A professional football game. The most popular game in the country and we don’t know how to cover up dirt.

  36. There was great hilarity in the Bears front office when it came up that “the guy over at PFT thinks we need a fake rug”.

  37. slizzyslizz says: Aug 10, 2011 1:31 PM

    …awaiting the PFT case to make Heinz Field utilize FieldTurf as well…

    ………………..

    It will never happen.

  38. Packernet says:
    Aug 10, 2011 2:09 PM
    Lambeau Field has grass and it is still immaculate in December and January. Not that hard to do. Pretty much water and light.
    ==========================

    Lambeau is a grass/synthetic turf hybrid, with synthetic fiber woven into the sod. This prevents the sod from coming apart in bad weather.

    The “frozen tundra” also doesn’t really freeze anymore. It has a brand new heating system, installed in 2006.

  39. everybody whos played football loves a nice level grassy knoll to play on but its not always like that and fieldturf is awesome! its soft, level and cheaper to maintain

  40. They HAVE to step in ! The Bears clearly don’t care and won’t /aren’t doing anything about it. Yet another reason I’m ashamed of being a current Bears fan.

  41. Before the NFL makes the Bears replace their field they need to take a long hard look at Heinz Field. It doesn’t hold up with Pitt also playing there. More players have gotten hurt on that field than any other field I have ever seen. It’s bad when there are pot holes on the field.

  42. Bottom line is the Bears don’t maintain the field. Their practice fields are grass and stay through the entire year. Think of soldier field as your local muni-golf course. City workers for the most corrupt city in America maintain the field. Of course they are going to F it up.

  43. B.S.

    The game was intended to be played on grass. Domenik Hixon tore up his knee on the first play on the grassturf at the New Meadowlands. Has Jensen ever studied how many careers were lost on the crap turf at the old Vet or old Texas Stadium?

    This is another Goodell ploy to appease the limp-wristed, fantasy football generation.

    If he truly wanted to prevent injuries, he’d make all teams install GRASS.

  44. Well as long as Brady and Manning are playing in this league, there will never be a level playing field.

  45. The Bears are worth $1.07 billion and the owners did nothing more than survive childbirth to get the team.

    Build your own damn stadium that seats 75,000, has a real playing surface and no one else uses it every other weekend.
    You have 9 championships and 27 members in the Hall of Fame so I am sure that you can add your own team Hall to the new place.

    Get it over with already.

  46. As usual with the City of Chicago, it’s all political.

    The Park District makes a TON of money from the Bears for doing the work on the field (another bad Bears purchase huh?).

    The Park District doesn’t want to switch over to Field Turf because it would cost them a lot of jobs and income…less to care for and less to do if Field Turf is installed.

    So as usual, the Bears will suffer only this time because of a bunch of nonsense/politics. Another reason gov’t is stupid.

  47. I have an idea. Let the Bears contact the Ravens and work out a trade for a new field. Then at the last minute, the Ravens can hem and haul and work another deal on the side and back out and act like they never had a deal to begin with.

    Karma! It’s a b_____! Leave that terrible grass field. Helps continue the embarassment that is the Bears management.

  48. Just so you know, this whole it is going to cost the taxpayers arguement is wrong. Solier Field makes money for the city, It is one of the few things that goverment runs that makes money.

    Oh and by the way, Keep the GRASS! This is Football!

  49. They don’t necessarily need FieldTurf. They just need the park to do a better job at maintaining the grass field. Da Bears should be their priority since I’m pretty sure most of the money the park receives are from da Bears.

    And people are right, da Bears do their training camp on grass. But C. Harris said it best when he said it’s a shame when a NAIA university has better grass than Soldier Field.

  50. OK. Let’s get a few things clear.

    First, it is a definite advantage to the home team, no matter what type of surface the game is played upon. Playing on it ten times a year (minimum, except if you have to play in London) allows the home team more familiarity with it than any visiting team can have.

    Second, in full disclosure, I am a Pat’s fan, and if you’re not aware, the Patriots practice every day all year at The Razor (Gillette Stadium). What this allows is all of the players to get used to prevailing wind conditions, field intricacies, Sun positioning, etc. I don’t think that this is done by Belichick out of neither convenience nor apathy. It is done to get any possible advantage available against his opponents.

    Third, as mentioned above, the field surface at The Razor was replaced in mid-season, which is against the rules (yeah, another one we broke…) unless specifically approved by 280 Park Ave.

    Forth, here’s a quick list of the worst playing surfaces in history:

    1) Heinz Field

    2) Houston (This field was responsible for Wes Welker’s torn ACL. Before the game, BB threatened to not even bring his team out and forfeit the game because it was such an unplayable surface.)

    3)Solder’s Field

    4) The old Boston Garden Parquet floor where the Celtics knew every dead spot within three inches.

    5) The old grass field in Foxboro.

  51. Somebody must be getting some kickbacks.
    There are several companies that have installed artificial surfaces in NFL stadiums, but all I hear is Fieldturf,Fieldturf, Fieldturf. I know it’s being
    used generically but geez. I really like the field in Green Bay best. Real grass that doesn’t fall apart
    when the weather gets bad. Best of both worlds.
    Hope nobody has a leg fall off at Soldier Field Saturday…..

  52. emdub52 says: Aug 10, 2011 2:09 PM

    If that is the case, then why the hell doesn’t the NFL make Oakland cover up that horrible infield dirt.

    Seriously… It’s 2011 and we can’t find a way to cover up dirt for a football game. A professional football game. The most popular game in the country and we don’t know how to cover up dirt.
    ____________________________________
    It’s something I hate about the Pats playing in Mia early in the season, that crap basebore field. It sucks. As does Heinz & Reliant.

    Listen to MF, channeling his inner Bill Polian. 😀

  53. I wish Steelers would do the same
    …or have the University play somewhere else.. like Across @ PNC park…Hines should be Steelers only

  54. This is dumb. They don’t have to put in fake turf, just put in GOOD real turf. At MSU my alma mater, they have the finest turf-grass researchers. The Bears should hire them to put in turf.

  55. FieldTurf’s Twitter has a link of Brady faking out Urlacher on the Patriots new field… hahaha, that can’t be a coincidence

  56. you need to quit beating this drum!!!! YOU may like football played on fake grass, but outdoor teams SHOULD have real grass…the Bears need to have the same type of field installed as was done in Lambeau a couple years ago, with the real/fake hybrid!

  57. Suck it up! This is football, not the Masters. Men used to play on fields like this and worse all the time.

  58. Unfair advantage? You’re an idiot. Advantage, maybe…MAYBE. Unfair? Not even close. That’s like saying Coors is an unfair advantage in baseball, or having a dome such as the old Twins stadium was unfair. Stadiums shouldn’t be like cookie cutter homes, if one team wants it different and wants to build their team around that difference (called smart) then so be it. That’s their choice and they deserve that choice. Unfair – what a dumb statement.

  59. Quick, PFT should audit the NFL front office executives to see if any of them have stock or a stake of ownership in the company that makes FieldTurf or any other artificial surface company.

    This smells just like starting a war and giving the fattest war contracts to your vice president’s former company with whom he has a stake in.

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