FedEx Field grass: still bad

December 23, 2013

 


(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

After all those photos of nasty FedEx Field grass last winter, the team announced a plan to prevent a similar disaster this season with a mid-fall re-sodding.

The grass looked lush and beautiful at the start of the season. And, as promised, the field was re-sodded in early November.

And yet here we are, in late December, with bad weather, and more comments from media members about an unsatisfactory field.

Now, I’m neither an agronomist nor a professional football player. I realize that players complain about playing conditions at every NFL stadium. I realize that when it’s rainy in December, grass will not look pristine. This is not something new. And I realize that every alternative to real grass also comes with downsides.

That said, players on both teams seemed to slip because of the conditions on Sunday, and one of the slips — by Josh Wilson, late in the fourth quarter, while attempting to cover Terrance Williams on a deep route — had a pretty big impact on the final result.

“Josh had a slip on a long pass play,” Brian Mitchell said during the Comcast SportsNet postgame show. “You know, it wasn’t that he just went out there and got beat. He slipped on the field, and I think that is a problem. And we’re still discussing a terrible playing surface, after all these years of this team. You need to make sure that the surface is the absolute best for the team. When it rains, it’s terrible; when it’s dry, they’re still slipping. You can’t have that problem at this level.”

Host Chick Hernandez then asked Charley Casserly whether field turf might be a better option.

“Yeah, I mean, other teams have done it, Northern teams have done it,” the former GM said. “And it certainly preserves your field, it gives you a consistent surface every week. It’s a big expense, but people say over a period of time, you actually will make it up by not replacing the other field.”

“If I’m the salesman of artificial turf, I go to Dan Snyder and tell him why it is healthier for his quarterback to have artificial turf — modern artificial turf — rather than play on grass,” Trevor Matich added. “Because if he slips and falls, he could have some sort of an injury. On this turf, it’s less likely. It’s not as harsh — the pounding on your joints — as the old turf used to be. So if I’m trying to sell this to the Redskins, I sell it through the prism of RGIII and the next 10 years.”

It’s not like players are standing on the training tables, banging cleats against the wall while demanding better conditions. But they seem to notice.

 

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | December 23, 2013