Three months after a sloppy postseason playing surface at FedEx Field came under intense criticism from the media and an opposing coach, the NFL will step up its policing of field conditions around the league.
The issue will be a point of emphasis in 2013 and will be discussed in detail at next week’s annual league meeting in Phoenix, according to NFL VP of football operations Ray Anderson.
“Under our field maintenance certification program, the league office will take a much more proactive and aggressive position,” Anderson said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “Under our current rules and best practices … we can make sure that if at any time the league office investigators determine that a stadium is not up to NFL quality, [is] not safe or doesn’t meet our competitive standards, then this department will have the ability to require the club to remedy the situation immediately at the club’s expense.”
Although Anderson did not mention FedEx Field specifically, the matter became a hot button topic in the aftermath of the Redskins-Seahawks wild card playoff game in Landover. While some observers speculated that the poor conditions might have contributed to the knee injuries suffered by Robert Griffin III and Chris Clemons, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was much more succinct in his criticism. Carroll called the pockmarked natural grass surface “horrible.”
When asked about the field last month, Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen conceded that his team “missed an opportunity” to re-sod the field mid-season but added that the grounds crew is “ready to commit” to re-sodding in 2013 to ensure that the grass will hold up better in the winter months.
Although the league intends to take more aggressive stance on field maintenance, it will continue to allow teams to decide which playing surface best suits its needs.
In other words, anyone hoping to see FedEx switch to synthetic turf can forget about it. The Redskins don’t want Field Turf and the league does not intend to require them to change.
“There have not been any specific proposals, and clubs are really given the option and the prerogative to pick their surfaces,” Anderson added. “There are no proposals that would require them to change surfaces. This proposal is geared toward making sure that everyone understands that going forward the league will take a more active role in making sure that whatever surface is chosen, that the standards are vigorously upheld.”