The NFL won’t be the only entity in the sport paying closer attention this season to the condition of the playing surfaces at FedEx Field and other stadiums league-wide. The players’ union also plans to monitor such field conditions.
DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, told players in a memo sent electronically to them Saturday that the union will participate in the field inspections conducted by the league.
Smith wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post and other media organizations, that “given some of the issues that we witnessed with respect to unsafe field conditions last year, an NFLPA field inspector will attend and observe NFL conducted field testing sessions to ensure the playing surface is as safe as possible.”
Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said in February that the league would take a more active role this season in monitoring field conditions. That came after the condition of the playing surface at FedEx Field was sharply criticized following the Washington Redskins’ playoff loss there Jan. 6 to the Seattle Seahawks.
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll called the condition of the field that day “horrible.” Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons suffered serious knee injuries during that game, although it is not clear if those injuries were related to the condition of the playing surface.
Anderson said last week that the league is satisfied at this point with the condition of the playing surface at FedEx Field. The Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles there Monday night in their season opener. But Anderson also reiterated that the league will be vigilant throughout the season about checking such conditions.
“Regular checks of all fields will occur,” Anderson said in an electronic message to a Post reporter in which he also expressed satisfaction with the current condition of the field at FedEx Field.
Smith, in his memo to the players Saturday, also reminded them about a new provision to have independent medical experts on the sideline at NFL games to assist in identifying potential concussions suffered by players.
Smith wrote that “as the NFL announced at the Super Bowl — at our insistence — they have agreed to have ‘unaffiliated neuro-trauma consultants’ this season. These experts are independent of any Club, are specialized in concussion treatment, and are there to observe or perform all concussion examinations.”
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.
● The Redskins’ season kicks off tomorrow at 7:10 p.m. ESPN goes on air at 6:55.
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Dr. Gridlock: Getting to FedEx Field on Monday night