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Old 11-18-2007, 04:46 AM   #1
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Default Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

Ed Bouchette on the Steelers: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst in NFL
Time for holidays, another playoff run and the annual complaint-fest about the grass
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Congratulations to the eight WPIAL football semifinalists who have worked their way through the playoffs and will play in the four high school championship games Friday.

After playing on some of the best football fields Western Pennsylvania has to offer during your playoff drive, now you get to play on one of the worst -- Heinz Field.

Many high schools throughout the WPIAL have converted their fields to artificial turf, mostly FieldTurf. Every playoff game from the quarterfinals on, in fact, has been played on that surface.

Yet in their most important game of all, the championship, they will play in the muck/dirt at Heinz Field. The playing surface there is DD GrassMaster, described as a combination of Kentucky bluegrasses, reinforced with polypropylene fibers that are sewn vertically into the sod every 3/4 of an inch.

The fibers may be there somewhere, but good luck finding that Kentucky bluegrass. And if there is any left before Friday's four WPIAL championship games are played there and Pitt plays on Saturday, it should be gone for the Steelers' Monday night game against Miami. Get out the green paint, fellas.

In the most recent playing surface survey of its membership conducted by the NFL Players Association in 2006, Heinz Field was voted the second-worst grass playing surface in the league, right after New England's Gillette Stadium. But since that survey, the Patriots tore out their grass and installed FieldTurf.

That means the players now consider Heinz the worst grass field in the league. Even their own players judged it the worst. Of the 48 Steelers players polled in the survey, 25 of them rated Heinz Field as "poor" and 16 as "fair". Only seven rated it "good" and none "excellent.''

It's a good bet that a back such as Willie Parker, who depends on his speed, quickness and cutting ability, was not among the seven Steelers who rated Heinz Field's surface as "good.'' Parker was slipping all over it in his most recent game there last Sunday.

It's time for a change. The Steelers should follow the path of most every other team that plays its home games in the Northeast and install the latest breed of artificial turf.

The Rooneys, I believe, had their players' best interests in mind when they installed grass at Heinz Field when it opened in 2001. In survey after survey, the players have -- and still -- say they prefer grass fields to artificial surfaces. And, especially after playing on the old-style artificial turf at Three Rivers Stadium for 31 seasons, the Steelers wanted to try grass.

It was a noble idea, but one that has proven a failure. Yes, in the old days NFL teams played on fields where grass had given way to muck, and on the dirt infields and pitcher's mounds in such baseball parks as Forbes Field, Yankee Stadium and Cleveland Stadium.

But these aren't the old days. They've developed artificial surfaces that look like grass, give like grass, and are no more detrimental to the health of players than real grass. The Steelers can get a close-up view of such a surface today at Giants Stadium, where the latest version of FieldTurf was installed, the same surface New England installed mid-season last year.

An artificial playing surface also would permit more events at Heinz Field -- concerts, soccer, band competitions, small-college doubleheaders, etc.

The Steelers gave grass a chance, and in its seventh season, it's time to put it out to pasture.

Did referee see it or not?

If baseball goes to a replay system, perhaps that sport too can experience the kind of call that occurred last Sunday in Heinz Field.

Cleveland's Braylon Edwards caught a pass in the end zone and dragged his feet along the right sideline as he did so. Officials ruled an incompletion because he did not get both feet inbounds.

Browns coach Romeo Crennel challenged the call, and referee Ron Winter overturned it and gave Edwards a touchdown.

According to NFL rules, the referee must see "indisputable visual evidence" before he can overturn a call on the field. There's no way Winter saw that in Edwards' catch. TV made a big deal out of showing a "divot" from Edwards that allegedly proved he had both feet inbounds. It was one divot and, when I saw it, I thought part of it was on the white line and thus out of bounds.

Mike Tomlin agreed.

"I'm still not certain he got both feet down,'' Tomlin said.

I don't think Winter is sure, either. Sometimes officials call what they think they see in instant replay, a system which should be scrapped but instead is infecting other sports.

Good NFL quarterback becoming rare breed

The state of NFL quarterbacks has never fluctuated so much as it has this season. If Charlie Batch weren't the backup to Ben Roethlisberger, he could start for half the teams in the league.

Quick, name the current starting quarterbacks in Miami, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Houston, Oakland, New York Jets, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, Chicago, Minnesota and Arizona.

This week alone, there were stories about coaches possibly switching starting quarterbacks this week in Minnesota (Tarvaris Jackson from Brooks Bollinger), Baltimore (Kyle Boller from Steve McNair), Kansas City (Brodie Croyle from Damon Huard), Jacksonville (back to previously injured David Garrard from Quinn Gray), Buffalo (back to J.P. Losman from Trent Edwards), Miami (rookie John Beck from Cleo Lemon) and Chicago (back to Rex Grossman after Brian Griese).

Either the NFL cannot find good quarterbacks, can't develop them, loses patience in them quickly or can't keep them healthy.

Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox should be regulars in this league somewhere.
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Old 11-18-2007, 06:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

And in other breaking news, the sun rose in the east this morning and will set in the west this evening.

I guess Dan Rooney likes remembering what the fields were like at Yankee Stadium and Municipal Stadium in the 50s and wants to preserve that aspect of the game at Heinz.

IMO there are only 2 ways that disgrace of a field goes - either Tomlin says this is ridiculous (unlike Cowher he cannot be said to have signed off on the original decision to go with a mud field in December ) or Ben decides one way to be a team leader is to make it an issue in contract renegotiations.
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

New England changed theirs last year. I think the league made them, if I remember right. Maybe the league will do the same at Heinz. I do think it would help Willie, to get out of that mud.
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

The Field Turf HAS to be installed next year. There are too many games being played at Heinz not to. If they just had their 10-12 Steelers games a year, it'd be fine, but it's ridiculous to see an NFL team playing on green spray painted dirt.
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

Ed Bouchette wrote the same column two years ago. I guess he's not one of the team's closest advisers because they obviously didn't listen to him then, and I hope they won't listen to him now.

Look, the field is not pretty this time of year and rain or snow will result in sloppy conditions. However, the quality of the game last week was not poor. Yes, Wille and Santonio slipped while running. I didn't see big chunks of turf flying when they did. Did the surface effect Josh Cribbs? He didn't slip. Did the turf effect Ben? He didn't slip. A wet field, whether by rain or snow, necessitates a change in shoes and running style. One which both teams are equally affected by. Rain or snow on a field turf field would also necessitate the same change of running style because it will be more slippery. It's just that the players' uniforms will need less stain stick.

As long as player safety is not affected, there is no reason to change the surface. Call me a purist, but football was meant to be played on natural grass, not plastic ones. The reason why those high schools switched to field turf was they don't have the money in their budgets to maintain them. Steelers do. With all due respect to Ed Bouchette, me thinks he is a wee bit obsessed with the field. I look forward to a healthy debate on this matter.

PS - I wonder how field turf supporters would feel had Ben hurt his hip on an artificial surface and missed some games due to it having less give than the wet Heinz Field one...which is exactly what he told Phil Simms before last week's game.
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Old 11-18-2007, 09:49 AM   #6
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Default Re: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

Quote:
Originally Posted by revefsreleets View Post
The Field Turf HAS to be installed next year. There are too many games being played at Heinz not to. If they just had their 10-12 Steelers games a year, it'd be fine, but it's ridiculous to see an NFL team playing on green spray painted dirt.
No, it just needs to be better taken care of.
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Old 11-18-2007, 11:20 AM   #7
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Default Re: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

Quote:
Eagles Notes | Westbrook and Reid optimistic
From The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 17

Running back Brian Westbrook missed a second straight day of practice yesterday with swelling in his left knee. He was listed as questionable on the injury report.
"He's got a little bit of swelling on his knee and a little soreness there," head coach Andy Reid said.

Both Westbrook and Reid expect the star running back to be on the field for tomorrow's game against the Miami Dolphins.

"I should be able to play," Westbrook said.

This is not the first time Westbrook's knees have barked at him in the middle of the season. He sat out two practices before the Eagles' Week 3 game against the Detroit Lions because of soreness in his left knee, and Westbrook's right knee forced him to miss a game against the Green Bay Packers.

Last season, knee problems forced him to miss numerous practices.

Reid does not think the current problem is serious.

"It's not bad," Reid said, noting that he wanted to keep Westbrook off the indoor artificial turf on which the Eagles practiced the last two days. "We'll see how it goes, but I think he'll be ready to go."
http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/...ptimistic.html

The indoor artificial turf, which is Field Turf. Obviously, other NFL football people are wary of the effect of Field Turf on the wear and wear of players' bodies.
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Old 11-18-2007, 11:53 AM   #8
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Default Re: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

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Originally Posted by GeneralRobinson View Post
Ed Bouchette wrote the same column two years ago. I guess he's not one of the team's closest advisers because they obviously didn't listen to him then, and I hope they won't listen to him now.

Look, the field is not pretty this time of year and rain or snow will result in sloppy conditions. However, the quality of the game last week was not poor. Yes, Wille and Santonio slipped while running. I didn't see big chunks of turf flying when they did. Did the surface effect Josh Cribbs? He didn't slip. Did the turf effect Ben? He didn't slip. A wet field, whether by rain or snow, necessitates a change in shoes and running style. One which both teams are equally affected by. Rain or snow on a field turf field would also necessitate the same change of running style because it will be more slippery. It's just that the players' uniforms will need less stain stick.

As long as player safety is not affected, there is no reason to change the surface. Call me a purist, but football was meant to be played on natural grass, not plastic ones. The reason why those high schools switched to field turf was they don't have the money in their budgets to maintain them. Steelers do. With all due respect to Ed Bouchette, me thinks he is a wee bit obsessed with the field. I look forward to a healthy debate on this matter.

PS - I wonder how field turf supporters would feel had Ben hurt his hip on an artificial surface and missed some games due to it having less give than the wet Heinz Field one...which is exactly what he told Phil Simms before last week's game.

Willie Parker seems to believe it has an impact on the game - this is a separate thread but the quote is worth repeating:

But when pressed about the slippery playing surface at Heinz and how it limits what a running back can do, Parker said to a couple of reporters "Y'all get on that soil and run on it and do some cuts, and let me ask y'all that question. Y'all see how it is when we're running out there."


http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_538527.html

Bad weather impacts the game but a bad field exacerbates the problem.
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Old 11-18-2007, 12:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Turf at Heinz Field gains reputation as worst

I have played soccer on FieldTurf, outdoors, in rain and snow. It's actually, IMHO, tougher to run on when wet than Heinz Field.If you put longer spikes in your cleats, you will get more traction. However, FieldTurf is just plain slippery, like stepping on tile in wet shoes.

I love how players from other teams complain about it like it gives us an unfair advantage. Last I checked, we play on the same field in the same conditions. And our game has shifted to more speed than smash mouth.
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