AFC East: Domenik Hixon

Playing the field: How NFL surfaces rate

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
3:11
PM ET
The NFL Players Association released its annual membership poll of the league's best and worst playing surfaces.

There are some surprising results for AFC East stadiums.

Remember when New York Giants coaches and players ripped the new Meadowlands artificial turf after Domenik Hixon blew out his knee in a June workout?

That's also the New York Jets' field. It rated second among all artificial surfaces behind Lucas Oil Stadium.

Also surprising to me was Ralph Wilson Stadium at rock bottom among the 13 artificial fields. The Buffalo Bills installed their AstroPlay turf in 2003.

Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, ranked seventh.

One more peculiar result: The Miami Dolphins' historically disliked grass field ranked sixth out of 18 natural surfaces. The Dolphins usually rate near the bottom because they play on a baseball infield until the Florida Marlins are done playing.

Vikings argue FieldTurf is unsafe

June, 18, 2010
6/18/10
2:44
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Unlike their roommates, the New York Jets have avoided saying anything derogatory about the new Meadowlands stadium's artificial turf.

In the aftermath of receiver Domenik Hixon suffering a season-ending knee injury without being touched, some New York Giants were critical of a surface they considered loose and slippery.

A spokesman for manufacturer FieldTurf refuted claims from Giants safety Antrel Rolle that the carpet was to blame for Hixon's torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"With all due and sincere respect to Antrel Rolle, who is a wonderful player, he is simply not medically trained or qualified to make such a statement," FieldTurf spokesman Chip Namias said. "The people who run NFL teams are ultra conscientious, and there's a very good reason why 21 of the 32 member clubs use FieldTurf."

Among those who refuse, however, are the Minnesota Vikings over concerns for player safety.

"Medically, FieldTurf has proven to increase risk and severity of injury in NFL players," the Vikings stated in court documents, as reported Thursday by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. According to the story, the Vikings cited an NFL study that showed injuries to anterior cruciate ligaments were 88 percent higher on FieldTurf than grass.

FieldTurf, meanwhile, pointed to two Montana State studies that showed its surfaces produced fewer and less significant injuries than grass. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal noted FieldTurf funded one of those studies.

FieldTurf is suing the Vikings for opting to use competitor Sportexe to resurface the Metrodome. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission made the choice although FieldTurf's bid of $458,561 was nearly $50,000 cheaper than Sportexe's.

Is new Meadowlands turf an injury issue?

June, 18, 2010
6/18/10
9:37
AM ET
Virtually in concert, the New York Jets praised the FieldTurf in the new Meadowlands stadium after Wednesday's public practice.

A day earlier, New York Giants receiver Domenik Hixon suffered a season-ending knee injury when he crumpled to the ground untouched on a punt return.

The Giants seem less certain than the Jets about the artificial surface's culpability.

"I was right there when it happened and I saw it right away," Giants safety Antrel Rolle told ESPNNewYork.com reporter Ohm Youngmisuk on Thursday. "And I was, like, 'Damn, it don't look good.' He didn't make a cut or anything. It just got caught in the turf."

Said receiver Steve Smith of the turf: "I thought it was real slippery. We were all slipping and stuff. Hopefully it settles in when more people do stuff on it."

Giants general manager Jerry Reese said the FieldTurf wasn't to blame. FieldTurf spokesman Chip Namias also refuted Rolle's opinion.

"With all due and sincere respect to Antrel Rolle, who is a wonderful player, he is simply not medically trained or qualified to make such a statement," Namias said. "The people who run NFL teams are ultra conscientious, and there's a very good reason why 21 of the 32 member clubs use FieldTurf."

Rolle also complained about the surface being hot on the bottoms of his feet and claimed several of his teammates had a similar experience. Slippage was another concern.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin stopped short at blaming the turf, but suggested it was an issue.

"You can speculate on whatever you want," Coughlin said. "Fact of the matter is it was an injury that occurred when he was not hit. He was running up the field and we are just going to leave it at that."

The Jets acted plenty confident in the surface Wednesday. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, recovering from offseason knee surgery, participated fully in the workout.

"The turf is great," Sanchez said of the turf. "I didn’t have any slippage. [Antonio] Cromartie did, but he’s so athletic that he’s like when a dog falls, they get up so quick, you almost don’t see it."

Jets punter Steve Weatherford and outside linebacker Calvin Pace raved about the turf. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson told me "It's a fast track. Guys are going to really enjoy playing on it." Cornerback Darrelle Revis noted it could stand to be broken in more.

"It's new turf," Jets inside linebacker Bart Scott said. "It takes a while for this stuff to harden up and mat down. There's going to be loose rubber until you run over it a couple times. ... But you just have to make the adjustment. Early on you may have to go with shorter spikes, and then as it hardens up you can go with longer spikes.

"But I think it's still top-notch. It's soft. It's level. There's no divots. There's no seams. You just have to break it in."

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