In May the Patriots installed a new FieldTurf playing surface at Gillette Stadium. After two preseason games, one practice, and one regular-season game, they’ve ripped it out like ugly-ass carpet.
So how did that decision come to be? There’s surely one hell of a compelling story regarding arguments among and between members of the organization and/or among and between Patriots representatives and folks from the company that manufactured and installed the surface — both after and quite possibly before the Week One loss to the Chiefs.
Were players complaining? Were coaches complaining? Who was in favor of ripping up the field? Who was against it?
Via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, the team decided that the surface was “not meeting team standards.” As PFT understands it, the field was consistently on the wrong side of the line dividing soft (and the surface definitely felt soft and spongy last Thursday night) and sloppy.
Still, the conversations and discussions leading to the conclusion must have been fascinating, with coach Bill Belichick undoubtedly making the ultimate call to, as he may have put it, get that crap the hell out of the stadium.
Belichick had a conference call with New Orleans reporters on Tuesday, and the issue didn’t come up. (They would have had no reason to ask him about it, since the Patriots and Saints play at the Superdome.) Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia met with reporters covering the Patriots on Tuesday, and the issue didn’t come up with them, either. (They’d probably defer to Bill, if they said anything at all.)
It’s still a fair question for Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, and any other players made available to the media as the week unfolds.
It’s also a potentially interesting question for Chiefs safety Eric Berry, who tore his Achilles tendon on turf that was deemed at some point in the past week to be not a good enough platform for NFL players.
Time after time, substandard playing surfaces are spotted in NFL stadiums. And for every team that immediately rectifies the situation (like the Patriots did), there are teams that tolerate the circumstances for one reason and one reason only: The cost of making things better.