Source: NFLPA Standing Behind 49ers' Criticism Of MetLife Turf
The NFLPA is "standing behind" the 49ers' criticism of MetLife Stadium's turf after the team suffered multiple major injuries on Sunday and "endorsing a thorough investigation of whether the surface may have been improperly certified by the league last week," according to a source cited by Charles Robinson of YAHOO SPORTS. The source said, "We are very concerned about it being a serious health and safety issue for players -- and turf continuing to be a health and safety issue in general." The source added that the NFLPA "would seek to address long-standing issues it has had about the reliability of field turf" with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "in the coming weeks." Robinson noted Sunday's 49ers-Jets game "actually wasn't the first played on the MetLife Stadium surface." The Giants opened the season last Monday against the Steelers and "neither team reported issues with tackiness of the turf after that game." Meanwhile, a source said that the MetLife surface "passed the standard field certification process and that neither team was warned of any potential issues" before Sunday's game. The source added that despite the 49ers warming up on the field, the team "didn't express any concerns to stadium operators prior to the start of the game" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/21).
PASSED THE TEST: In Newark, Matt Lombardo writes the NFL "essentially said lackluster turf conditions are not to blame for the injuries, because the league found no issues with the turf leading into 49ers-Jets." The NFL in a statement said, "The independent field inspector completed an inspection on Sept. 12 and certified that the field was in compliance with all applicable NFL policies, including the Mandatory Practices for Artificial Surfaces. In addition, within 72 hours of each home game, clubs must certify that their fields are in compliance with applicable NFL policy, and that occurred in this instance" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/22).
DIFFERING OPINIONS: In S.F., Eric Branch writes "not all the 49ers felt similarly" about the condition of the MetLife Stadium turf. LB Fred Warner and OT Trent Williams said that the conditions "weren't ideal, but didn't sound overly alarmed." Warner said, "It seemed like it was a little stickier out there. The turf was kind of spongy. But in terms of us playing there next week, it's something you can't really think about." Williams: "It's a new field turf and it's always pretty tricky to play on until its ... nice and worn down and broken in. ... You never want to blame the injuries on that" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/22). In N.Y., Paul Schwartz notes Giants coach Joe Judge and his players believe the "turf at MetLife Stadium is fine." Giants S Jabrill Peppers: "We haven't had any issues with it." Judge: "Our guys have been on that turf, we had camp in the stadium, it was kind of our home for that month or so. We had our players on that turf every day for some kind of walk-through, competitive practice, and (in) the leading up to the game last week, not a single player said anything negative to me along the way at all about any of the facilities and, specifically, the turf" (N.Y. POST, 9/22). In N.Y., Pat Leonard notes the installation of the Giants' and Jets' new FieldTurf Classic HD system "was completed in early June." The Giants "already had the turf down inside their indoor practice field, as well" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22).
DRAWING THE WRONG CONCLUSION? In Pittsburgh, Tim Benz writes a number of key injuries in Week 2 "led to outright fantasy league carnage." Some in the football media are "blaming this rash of injuries on the lack of preseason contests and truncated offseason workouts," but they are making a "woefully inaccurate false equivalency." If anything, the run of injuries to Pro Bowlers during the first two weeks "builds an argument against having a preseason at all." These "aren't soft-tissue strains and pulls that could be directly connected to not being in game shape." These are injuries "directly connected to the inherent physicality of the game" (TRIBLIVE.com, 9/22).