After three players suffered season-ending injuries on a thoroughly worn out natural grass surface at FedEx Field during the playoff match-up between the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks in January, the league has vowed to be more proactive in ensuing the quality of their playing surfaces.
According to Clark Judge of CBSSports.com, Ray Anderson, the league’s vice president of football operations, said the NFL will be “more proactive” in deciding when to re-sod grass fields. As it currently stands, the respective teams and stadium operations staffs are responsible to approve a playing surface is fit for action. Anderson said that while the league won’t assume those responsibilities, it intends to be more involved in ensuring the quality of the fields.
“Going forward, we’re going to be much more proactive about making sure we, at the league level, make determinations, particularly with natural surfaces, later in the year subject to weather factors,” Anderson said. “We must be more attentive and more assertive about when certain standards or re-soding or maintenance needs to be redone.”
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons each suffered torn ACLs in the Seahawks 24-14 win in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka also suffered a calf injury in the first quarter that forced the Seahawks to use punter Jon Ryan on kickoffs for the remainder of the game. Hauschka was placed on injured reserve after the game.
Anderson said the blame for the poor surface falls on both the club and the league for allowing the state of the turf at FedEx Field to get to that point. They hope the increased focus from the league will help prevent a recurrence in the future.
“As a league, we go out and inspect and monitor [fields], but we’ve got to be more forceful about taking [matters] into our hands,” Anderson said. “…I’m not necessarily talking about taking it out of their hands. But when our observers see a situation we will be much more forceful about saying this needs to be done and that this in fact will be done.”