2023 Offseason Questions: Does NFL Care About Super Bowl Field Condition?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Does the NFL care about the Super Bowl’s field conditions?

The players’ union would probably argue no. They engaged in a campaign all season to try to bring attention to the issues of turf fields, including specific turf fields, that lead to more dangerous playing surfaces. This was evidently a custom-grown grass field that was installed two weeks ago after having spent years growing. It didn’t work as planned.

Even though it was grass, we saw many of the same issues players report of turf fields. How many times did a player slip on that field in comparison to what the norm would be for a standard grass field? Obviously that’s not an option for a domed stadium in the desert, but what we saw in the Super Bowl shows that more work needs to be done to get it right.

Every single franchise rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits every year, so cost isn’t a factor. And evidently this custom-grown grass field wasn’t the cheapest endeavor. But considering the fact that field conditions are one of the biggest storylines coming out of this Super Bowl, one really has to wonder: how much does the NFL care?

In my opinion, this should lead to the institution of a certain level of standard for field conditions, not just for the Super Bowl but for every playing surface on which the NFL conducts business, both in all 32 teams’ home stadiums and in any other stadium in which they might play.

There’s really no excuse for why each game should not be played on an optimal field surface. Irrespective of the potential increase in injury risk, the quality of product on the field is diminished when so many plays are impacted by the choice of field surface.

But as long as it doesn’t affect ratings and thus profits, there isn’t the financial incentive to do anything about it. So in order for anything to arise out of this, it would have to be the product of the league actually caring. And I don’t know that they do. They should have learned some lessons about growing roll-out grass fields after this game. They had better take those lessons and apply them.

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