If the NFL plans to keep playing games in new countries (and it does), it’s important for the playing surfaces to be as familiar as possible.
In Germany, it wasn’t.
On Tuesday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll echoed his concerns while using even stronger language. Appearing on 710 ESPN Radio in Seattle, Carroll called the playing surface “a nightmare,” via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Carroll explained that players never knew when footing might give way, but he was pragmatic about the absence of a competitive disadvantage.
“It’s equal . . . both sides had to go against that,” Carroll said.
Bucs coach Todd Bowles had similar observations on Monday, saying the surface was “slick” but that “it was a slick field for both teams.”
Bowles added that, even while wearing long cleats, players were still slipping.
During a separate session with reporters, Carroll was asked whether he thinks the league should take a closer look at the types of fields being used in European venues.
“I don’t know soccer to know why they would like the field like that,” Carroll said. “I think the topic is kind of on right now on fields in general, and we just like to keep getting better at it, and understanding how
we can make the game safer, and the game better in all ways. That’s not to say it has to be natural turf versus artificial or whatever. We just need to keep working at it, but it’s really nice when it is uniform. I know they pay attention. They talked about it when we were in London also. It was the same discussion.”
The discussion lingers, because the problem does. It takes a commitment of time and money and a level of expertise that the league can’t or won’t consistently harness.
Even if the surface is the same for both teams, that doesn’t make it acceptable. A slick field enhances the risk of injury for all players. And it makes the game less exciting, if/when players will be falling down when otherwise doing the things people pay money and spend time to see them do.