It's About Time: NFL Plans To Regulate Field Conditions More Rigorously
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: February 21, 2013
How many players must suffer major injuries in the span of one game due to poor field conditions for the NFL to do something about it?
The answer, it turns out, is three. Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka and defensive end Chris Clemons suffered calf and knee injuries while Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III gruesomely retore his ACL graft during January's Wild Card playoff game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins' home turf was scrutinized following the game, as it was believed the grass, which was in desperate need of a solid resodding, was at least partly responsible for the onfield carnage. Commissioner Roger Goodell pledged to explore the NFL's options in terms of field regulation.
It sounds as though Goodell followed up on his pledge, as Ray Anderson, Executive Vice President of Football Operations, announced today that the NFL will be taking a more "proactive", hands-on approach. Though each field will still be the domain of team ownership, Anderson explained:
"The policy is that the clubs -- or the stadium authority --has a lot of discretion with regard to the field. They determine the usage of the field, with regard to high school games, college games, concerts, etc. and they have typically had the discretion to determine when they want to ... or need ... to resod. 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. We must be more attentive and more assertive about when certain standards or resodding or maintenance needs to be redone."
January's injuries aren't the first instance of poorly maintained grass affecting players. Griffin III first injured himself in a December 9th home game against the Baltimore Ravens, and though his comeback story has since dominated the narrative of his torn ACL, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson also suffered his injury on FedEx field late in the 2011 season.
When pushed by CBSSports.com columnist Clark Judge to assign blame for the abysmal field conditions during this year's Wild Card game, Anderson deferred from pointing his finger in any one particular direction:
"In my personal opinion. I think it was a combination of both the club and the league. And at football operations that comes to me at the end of the day -- for not paying close enough attention to the details soon enough."
After a brutal scare with their star quarterback of the future on their own shoddy field, I'd like to believe the Redskins front office has already begun investigating ways to better maintain their playing field. I can't imagine that's a risk they'd openly accept in the future. But just in case they haven't given it much thought, it's good to know the NFL will be on top of it.