NFL to be more proactive regarding playing surface quality


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, 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.”

39 responses to “NFL to be more proactive regarding playing surface quality

  1. Well they obviously needed to step up and do something after that playoff game in Washington. Not only did multiple players get season ending injuries, it happened when everyone was watching. It was scary watching RGIII’s knee bend so unnaturally. Ultimately, you’d think the teams would be on top of their fields since their players play 8 or more games a season on it. Protect your investments!!!

  2. Maybe more teams should follow The Packers example. The field, even in winter, looks great. They take pride in how the field looks and no one can say that the field conditions are terrible!

  3. If the League doesn’t fix it, we may end up with a situation in which a team who has a playoff spot already sewn up says to the Washington Redskins and the League, “Our team is not going to play. We are not going to risk ending the season for one or more of our key players and thereby end our hopes for a good playoff run.” Taking a forfeit might be better than ending the season or career for certain players.

    And wouldn’t all hell break loose if a team says, “We will take a forfeit rather than play on the Redskins field!”

  4. Expect ticket prices to rise in Chicago. They will have to re-sod the field after every game.

  5. Better just have a league representative get an apartment in Chicago. Soldier Field needs weekly checks. That field falls apart faster than the QB who plays on it.

  6. Why was there such a rush from the league for the Patriots to replace their grass surface in 2005? They forced them to do it while Pittsburgh and Washington consistently have the some of the worst surfaces around. Doesn’t feel like special treatment for the Pats.

  7. I still don’t believe the NFL genuinely cares about player safety. They want all these changes so they can justify an 18 game schedule

  8. The Redskins lost a playoff game. That is basically a season-ending injury for the entire organization.

  9. Although we know the Fed Ex field was in “bad” shape, it is ridiculous to suggest these injuries were the direct result of the field conditions. RGIII was already hurt, Hauschka calf pull can no way be traced to bad field conditions. This made up story is entertaining though. Spend some money Dan, give the skins a top notch field, you can afford it.

  10. So what is going to happen if the inspectors go out on Thursday and find the field is not in shape for a game?

    Cancel the game?

    You can inspect all you want but what is going to be done if the field fails inspection?

    I would also think there would be a lot of judgement involved, which doesn’t bode well.

  11. It’s a miracle that O.J. Simpson didn’t tear all the ligaments in both knees while clearing the 2000 yard barrier at Shea.

    As I recall it was sloppy, snowy, authentic grass.

    Today’s NFL, and its fans, are absurd.

  12. Teams and the league should take pointers from the field team at Lambeau. That field looks better than all the other grass fields in the league. Granted there are only 10 games a year compared to probably 30-40 at the other stadiums where college and high schools play, but Green Bay is smart that way not to allow that.

  13. NFL should declare all Skins games played on that surface as forfeited by Washington.

    Come to think of it, they should just declare all games played while little Danny is the owner as forfeited. You know he is doing something slimy, despicable, and money-grubbing, even if it hasn’t been made public yet.

  14. Dennisatunity. ” forfiet ” a playoff game?????????????????????????!??

    Are you nuts or just so damn illusional you forgot you lived in reality?

    That would never ever ever happen bc I’m sure there would be plenty of players and on other teams who wouldn’t care and would gladly accept the honor of playing in the playoffs even of on concrete!

    No one would ever not show up to an playoff game ever! No matter how bad a filed is most of these guys have passion to win a SB they won’t jeopardize that bc some dirt slash field. If so no games would be in Miami or Oakland with their half grass dirt fields.

  15. Pease don’t beleive a word godell or the nfl says.
    Several football fields have been a joke for more than 10 years, while godell and the nfl lies about player safety.
    1.Soldier field in Chicago is a mess. last I heard club refused to improve field.
    2.FEDEX field is a mess. last I heard club refused to improve field.
    3.Raiders play on a dirt baseball infield. last I heard club refused to improve field.
    Several other fields are rated marginal
    Godell fines players 21k per infraction, so 21k times 160 games over ten years, times number of snaps per game, equals fines that should be contributed to player health fund.

    Additionally, since problem has existed for years and is a dangerous safety risk, clubs should be suspended for at least 1 years from nfl.

  16. So “Drew Brees needs an explanation” comments can continue forever, but you delete my Wendell Davis comment? C’mon, man.

  17. There is way too much money wrapped up in the game and players, so why not try to minimize injury by adopting a mandatory like surface. Have the players vote on what the league wide surface should be and have them play on it for 3 year periods. As technology progresses, they can then opt for newer surfaces that will minimize injury. I don’t know if there is a coraltaion but lets say player “a” plays for the Raiders which has a dual team (baseball, football grass surface), then they go to play in St. Louis (turf). It only takes one misstep to tear something as we seen with RG3 last year.

    In fact if it were up to me, I’d outlaw domes all together. If a team or its fans can’t brave the elements outside, then they don’t deserve to have a team. If it were up to me, I’d cut off all of the domes and make every team play on field turf. Then do a study to see if there is any truth to injury prevention.

  18. Look for billionaire owners to start crying about not being able to afford the upgrades and demanding taxpayers fund the new fields or they’ll threaten to move the team.

  19. Everyone is failing to recognize that RGIII’s knee was already fragile from the Haloti Ngata hit weeks prior. Don’t blame it on the field. He should not have been playing injured. Blame the coaching and medical staff.

  20. They should make field turf mandatory! The ravens are maybe 50 miles away from fedex field and tey have a perfect field to play on because its field turf

  21. If they do, Chicago is screwed. The field is maintained by the City of Chicago (read Union).

    Since the Union tells the politicians of Chicago what to do, (not the other way around), there is no hope for the field. They might have to move to Univ of Ill again.

  22. This has been an issue for years. Solider Field is a sand box from November on. Carolina once had a field w/hay like consistancy, former Packer Antwaan Edwards shredded his knee on that pile. Heinz field gets torn up cause its used Saturdays and Sundays. It will never change.

  23. RG3 tore his ACL due to a bad snap, not the surface. Nevertheless, teams in cold weather areas should be required to install field turf. It’s a no-brainer. Natual grass fields should be permitted in areas with avg temps equal to or greater than 60F degrees.

  24. This is how bad information enters the world wide web. RGIII did NOT tear an acl but did tear his lcl , when doing surgery to repair said lcl Dr. Cleaned up scar tissue on his acl from a previously REPAIRED acl. Get it right the first time or don’t let your minions post without editing Florio.

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