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Former Texans punter sues over Reliant Stadium turf


The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement protects the league and its teams from a wide variety of player lawsuits; indeed, the concussion litigation eventually may fail because of the terms of the CBA.

But the CBA doesn’t provide protections to folks who fall outside the employment relationship.  In Houston, that has resulted in the filing of a lawsuit by a former Texans punter against the company that operates Reliant Stadium, where the Texans play their games.

Via multiple reports, Brett Hartmann has sued for injuries sustained during a December 2011 game.  He claims that his foot was caught in a seam on the playing field, which consists of trays of grass and not an even, continuous surface.

The civil complaint, posted by Deadspin, points to other non-contact injuries suffered on the field, including the torn ACL suffered by Pats receiver Wes Welker on the last day of the 2009 regular season.  The lawsuit quotes New England coach Bill Belichick, who called the playing surface at Reliant Stadium “terrible,” and former Colts coach Tony Dungy, who has said that his team was “definitely concerned about the injury factor” on the surface at Reliant Stadium.

Earlier today, Commissioner Roger Goodell said on ESPN Radio that player health and safety is our “number-one priority,” that “[i]t’s something we’ve always focused on and we continue to focus on it.”  Player health and safety is jeopardized not only by players hitting other players, but by the playing surfaces on which they play.

Fortunately, the green cement known as Astroturf no longer pollutes NFL stadiums.  But if the league is serious about safety (in all forms and not only concussions), then the NFL and the NFLPA have an obligation to ensure that every playing surface in every NFL stadium is deemed safe and fit — from Heinz Field to Soldier Field to Reliant Stadium to the slick pitch that is Wembley Stadium.

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12 Responses to “Former Texans punter sues over Reliant Stadium turf”
  1. catquick says: Nov 15, 2012 3:53 PM

    All games should be played on grass. In a dome, hand ultraviolet lights, or have a greenhouse maintain it. It would cost millions less than losing a Wes Welker per week.

  2. thestrategyexpert says: Nov 15, 2012 3:54 PM

    I’d like to be the lawyer against Goodell and his claim that safety is the #1 priority of the league. Go ahead Roger, I’m listening.

  3. marvsleezy says: Nov 15, 2012 4:06 PM

    He had a broken leg AND a torn ACL on the same play. Thats pretty bad.

  4. skolpackers says: Nov 15, 2012 4:09 PM

    i found a new home for Robbie Gould to go to!!

  5. 1oldpro says: Nov 15, 2012 4:19 PM

    Brett Hartmann has received two suspensions for violating NFL drug policies subsequent to his injury.

  6. htowntexan says: Nov 15, 2012 5:12 PM


    Reliant has natural grass . . . .

  7. txtuff says: Nov 15, 2012 5:51 PM

    catquick says:
    Nov 15, 2012 3:53 PM
    All games should be played on grass. In a dome, hand ultraviolet lights, or have a greenhouse maintain it. It would cost millions less than losing a Wes Welker per week.


    Are you joking? The Texans field is grass, the stadium is pretty much a dome, and the field is removed to grow under the sun (kinda of greenhouse maintained). So yeah don’t think that would fix the problem.

  8. trevor123698 says: Nov 15, 2012 5:58 PM

    Grass should be the required surface for all games.

  9. peoplesfrontofjudea says: Nov 15, 2012 6:49 PM

    The issue on the Reliant field is seams. It’s real grass but they install it in 10 foot squares.

  10. marthisdil says: Nov 15, 2012 6:57 PM

    next thing ya know, someone will slip on ice in an outdoor stadium and then sue…

  11. farty5 says: Nov 15, 2012 6:58 PM

    Didn’t Andre Johnson also hurt himself, untouched, on that field?

  12. convertedtexanfan says: Nov 16, 2012 10:32 AM

    Reliant has been known for years for to have more non-contact injuries than any other field. There are so many great field products out there. There is no need for 8×8 trays with over a thousand seams to be used for professional sports (or any other for that matter). Players and game commentators have been complaining about that field for years. Cris Collingsworth commented on it during the Texan-Packer game. They need to put in a different field.

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