Redskins, FedExField Come Under Fire For Turf Conditions During NFC Wild Card
FedExField’s playing surface during Sunday's Seahawks-Redskins NFC Wild Card game “looked like the aftermath of a monster truck rally,” according to Nathan Fenno of the WASHINGTON TIMES. A "gash of brown dirt dotted by the token shred of grass stretched from end zone to end zone." The midfield logo was "too blurred to recognize," and "chunks of turf went missing in the sections fortunate to retain any green." Redskins QB Robert Griffin III said, "That's just part of our home-field advantage." Redskins WR Pierre Garcon added, "It’s actually better today. Some days it’ll be wet or slick. Today it was just all dirt. It was actually not as bad as previous times." Fenno noted this was "normal, and that might have been the scariest part." There "wasn’t rain or snow to blame." And there "weren’t other games here earlier in the week, as is often the case at the high-traffic stadium" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/7). The Nation’s Dave Zirin on Monday said, "The conditions on that field were abhorrent. There are high schools in DC with better football fields than what was on FedExField yesterday" (“OTL,” ESPN2, 1/7). Pro Fooball Talk’s Mike Florio said, “The NFL has official sponsors for everything. Everything’s done in lockstep, everything’s done the same way. So why aren’t the fields always the same? It’s fairly important, don’t you think, the quality of the field that the players are going to be on. So why does the NFL allow such wide variety and types of fields and specifically, when we get into January in northern climates these grass fields?” (“PFT,” NBC Sports Network, 1/7).
COACHES SOUND OFF: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called the field "horrible." The AP's Joseph White noted Redskins coach Mike Shanahan "doesn't go that far, but he agrees the grass isn't always greener" at FedExField. Carroll said, "It's as bad as a field can get for being dry. It's too bad. It really is. It's too bad. We deserve better. ... It just was worn out. There was a lot of slipping and all that kind of stuff. It's relative. It didn't change the game at all in my opinion because it's relative to both sides. We should just expect to see a better field at that time of year." The field has looked "scraggly for much of a season that was front-loaded with extra events, including college football games and a Kenny Chesney concert." Shanahan said, "You'd like a perfect field, and it wasn't a perfect field, we all know that." NFL rules say the home team "must certify prior to each game that the playing field meets certain conditions." Carroll: "It's cool to have the different stadiums have their own uniqueness about it. But there is a point where I think it makes sense that it should be somewhat standardized that it should be equal for everyone, and obviously safety is at the top of everyone's mind in the league" (AP, 1/7).
BY THE BOOK: The NFL said that the Redskins "followed proper protocol in this case." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said, "The Redskins certified their compliance prior to the game." Shanahan yesterday said that he is "open to discussing an artificial surface, 'but I do like natural grass.'" He said that the issue would be "addressed prior to" the '13 season. Shanahan: "I've seen perfect grass and guys just slipping all the time. And so therefore I don't think there was an advantage one way or disadvantage one way" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/8).