The field at Bank of America Stadium last December was not very safe, and the NFLPA says the NFL knew it and forced players to play.
It was not used as an excuse for how the Carolina Panthers had their way with their run defense last Christmas Eve, but Detroit Lions players rightly lamented the field conditions at Bank of America Stadium.
Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson had an appropriate metaphor for how bad it was, after saying he slipped and fell flat on his face while doing is first pre-game warmup rep.
"I don’t know if there is a standard you have to meet for turf, but I think it got better later in the game, so it wasn’t too much of a factor. But, I mean, it was very concrete-like for sure.”"
The game was the coldest in Bank of America Stadium’s history, with a kickoff temp of 20 degrees and wind chill making it feel like 9. The stadium also switched to Field Turf from natural grass before last season.
NFLPA says NFL knew field for Lions-Panthers game was not safe
This past Wednesday, NFLPA president J.C. Tretter wrote a letter where he mentioned the field conditions for the Lions-Panthers game last December. By the NFL’s own measure, something called the Clegg test, the field failed during a pregame check
"Last year on Christmas Eve, Carolina’s field failed the Clegg test. For a surface to pass this test, it must measure below 100g (units of gravities), and the meter for this test goes up to a maximum of 150g. When the field in Carolina was tested during the pregame check, it came back as — you guessed it — 150g.Players reached out and told us the field was way too hard, describing it as concrete. Players reported that they couldn’t even wear cleats because they wouldn’t sink into the turf. When we reached out to the league, they told us they were aware of these concerns and were working to remedy them.However, instead of delaying the game or finding another way to fix the issue, the league gave the green light to kick off the game as scheduled. Afterward, the league told us that late in the first half, the field finally did fall below the 100g max. But the fact remains that the players in that game had to play on a field that the league acknowledges was not safe. That is beyond frustrating to players and unacceptable in the eyes of our union."
So for basically a half of football, the Lions and Panthers played on a field that was not up to a basic standard for safety–a standard set by the NFL, by the way.
Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone had the expected reaction to the story,
The NFLPA filed a grievance back on the matter back in January, as expected after several players complained about the field conditions. The conditions at Bank of America Stadium, Field Turf on a cold December day being unplayably hard, only add to the argument the NFLPA is making that grass fields are safer than artificial surfaces.