The NFL’s Ongoing Turf Problem
It seems like the NFL should excel at maintaining their playing surfaces, but for the second year in a row, issues have arisen. The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly unhappy with their practice field and multiple NFL insiders have reported that the field at UNLV didn’t meet the team’s expectations. The surface was described as too soft and spongy, putting the team at a disadvantage. The league laid a grass surface over UNLV’s field turf just a week prior.
At Super Bowl Opening Night, players deferred questions about the field to head coach Kyle Shanahan, who stated that the team has no plans to change practice location and will make do with what they have. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the condition of the field by saying it was softer than what the 49ers are accustomed to, but was approved by experts.
Last season, the Super Bowl surface issue was the game field at State Farm Stadium, with players from the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles criticizing it after the game. This raises concerns about the league’s inability to maintain natural grass, especially considering past complaints about the grass at Levi Stadium for Super Bowl 50.
The man responsible for working on every Super Bowl field, George Toma, spoke out about the institution’s playing surface issues, even though he has been responsible for dealing with field problems in recent years. The NFL’s struggle to maintain its playing surfaces is surprising given its significant revenue and prominence. It raises questions about its ability to host major events, such as the World Cup in two years.