Some of you out there remember what was unanimously called the worst venue in major North American professional sports, the Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. The Eagles and Phillies have shared that facility for over 20 years.
When The Vet organized those teams, There are many stadiums that have become dumps, but this one is particularly terrible. The fans were so loud that there were courts and prisons in the building, but the most terrible thing about this place was the pitch.
There’s no such thing as a good AstroTurf when it’s the man-made surface of choice in the NFL, but none in this league is as rough as the one in The Vet. Former Chicago Bears player Wendell Davis ended his career when he ruptured both superficial patellar tendons in 1993. It was a constant source of complaints among players in both sports. sports, especially the home teams. Donovan McNabb used to say, “The whole league knows about The Vet. There are two things you can be affected by – our defenders or our stadium. “
Today, the artificial surface used at NFL stadiums – they don’t share the same home ground with MLB teams anymore – is FieldTurf. It’s softer than natural grass with plastic blades and tire rubber instead of dirt. However, like AstroTurf, there are concerns that it makes players more susceptible to soft tissue injuries. Also, like the AstroTurf days, there’s one venue that’s notoriously the worst: MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ
The New York Giants lost a key contributor Monday night on that pitch. Sterling Shepard has battled hard to recover from an achilles injury, and across three games this season he has been the Giants’ frontrunner. Shepard was jogging on the sidelines with less than a minute left in his loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and suddenly he fell to the ground as if he had been kicked in the calf by an MMA fighter. He was ejected from the field and later diagnosed with an ACL tear.
Just like The Vet, MetLife received complaints from both coaches and players. The Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Jets at that stadium in Week 1, but they don’t care too much about playing conditions, according to a quote that ESPN’s Jamison Hensley posted on Twitter.
“That lawn was carpeted, it was packed down, it was a little tight.” John Harbaugh said. “Maybe that’s the way it should be. I don’t know, but that’s what I saw. It was a bit difficult. ”
There have been complaints about the MetLife stadium surface for a while. In 2020, the surface was actually investigated after several people in San Francisco 49 were injured during a game. After the 2019 Super Bowl, they lost Nick Bosa, Jimmy Garoppolo, Solomon Thomas, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert in the same game. Arik Armstead tweeted after the game that the pitch was “trash”, and Kyle Shanahan told the media, “The boys seem to be getting stuck on the ground more often.” The NFL and NFLPA did field investigations after that game and found that the conditions were appropriate.
Of course I am neither a doctor nor a scientist. If it were me, I would observe the scientific issues far more important to the well-being of this planet than the playing surface in football games. However, I did notice something. In FieldTurf games, tire rubber often levitates from underneath the player’s feet. The rubber is not tapped down or glued to the gorilla. From what I’ve seen How FieldTurf was maintained at my old high school when natural grass was replaced in 2003, someone periodically dropped in to the car and dumped rubber on the yard.
Over time, as the field goes on, less and less of the rubber goes up – and it’s tempting to catch your eye indeed – but it never fully stops. I had nothing to do with changing fields except going door to door for a month during the summer of 2002 peddling coupon booklets for $20 each. However, I noticed on Monday night that the rubber almost never flew up at MetLife Stadium. It wasn’t cold at all during that time game. There is no natural reason for tire rubber particles to stick to the ground.
There are currently no studies that demonstrate a direct cause between injury and MetLife FieldTurf. And, unlike The Vet, the stitching is poor and the third sole doesn’t show up and the pre-season doesn’t have to be canceled when, after the stadium replaces the grass, it’s too uneven for a safe game.
While MetLife Stadium isn’t there yet, it currently holds the title of the NFL’s terrible pitch.