The 2015 season will end on a field that’s not ready for the Super Bowl. It started on a field that wasn’t ready for prime time.
According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers are complaining about the quality of the FieldTurf at the venue previously known as Fawcett Stadium and recently renamed Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium for the season-ending knee injury suffered by kicker Shaun Suisham.
Via Bouchette, the players contend the turf caused Suisham to lose his footing while he ran down under his kickoff. Bouchette writes that the 11-year-old playing surface in Canton is only now being replaced, after an NFL game was played on it.
“I hated that turf,” safety Robert Golden said. “It was old, chewed up, very hard. I’m just happy most of our guys got off healthy. Now they’re redoing it? I don’t agree with that, that’s bad, putting us at risk like that on that turf.”
“I had a couple of plays there, especially in the middle of the field, where I was sliding,” fullback Will Johnson said. “I saw a lot of guys losing their footing.”
“It kind of just boggles my mind if they knew it was so bad that they were going to tear it up they wouldn’t have replaced it before we played on it,” tight end Matt Spaeth said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen something that bad . . . I wasn’t happy about it, that’s for sure.”
Hall of Fame spokesman Joe Horrigan told Bouchette that the playing surface passed the Clegg impact test administered by the NFL before the game. (As if they would have canceled the game if it didn’t.) Horrigan added that the turf is being removed as part of the stadium reconstruction that is due to start next month, which will result in the field being lowered by 12 feet.
At a time when the NFL has become more sensitive to player health and safety than ever before, players are still exposed to substandard field conditions on a regular basis. It’s enough to make people wonder whether the talk about player health and safety is just that.