The NFL is monitoring neutral field site options in the coming weeks, due to scheduling changes following the cancellation of the Bills vs. Bengals earlier this week. According to Ian RapoportFord Field wouldn’t be one of those options, and the reason is very interesting. According to Rapoport, the Lions will not be able to host a game because they have already decided to change turf at Ford Field.
While the Lions can still make the playoffs, they are unable to get higher than the seven seeds in the NFC, meaning it is mathematically impossible for them to host a playoff game this year. When that became apparent, the Lions put the plans in motion.
According to the team’s source, the Lions aren’t just resurfacing the turf, they’re completely replacing the type of surface they’re using. Where they had previously used the movie notch grass, they are now replacing it with a more player-friendly CORE monogram grass.
Surface play has become a huge problem in the NFL this season after NFLPA President JC Tretter He publicly called for the immediate replacement of the notch movie turf, the type of surface currently used by the Lions and six other teams. Here is the relevant part of Tretter’s statement:
Just as there are different types of turf, there are also different types of turf (monofilament, double fibre, split-filament). The slotted movie playing deck has statistically higher hit rates in the game than all other decks for each of the following:
Lost time injuries
Lower extremity injuries
Foot and ankle injuries
There are currently seven teams that use slit film in their stadiums (New York GiantsAnd New York JetsAnd Detroit LionsAnd Minnesota VikingsAnd New Orleans SaintsAnd Indianapolis ColtsAnd Cincinnati Bengals).
The NFL and its experts agreed with this data and acknowledge that the field of slotted films is less secure. Player leadership wrote a letter to the NFL this week calling for the immediate removal of these fields and a ban on them going forward, both on stadiums and on practice fields. Not only did the NFL refuse to force this change immediately, but they also refused to commit to changing away from the notch movie in the future at all.
The Lions had originally planned to return to the field in 2024, but when it became clear that the team would not host a playoff game this season, they pushed the installation process until later this month.
“We’ve talked about it. This has been in the works for a while,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said Friday. “(Team boss) Rod (Wood) was talking about this before anything came out about the turf and this and that. We are committed – (Owner) Sheila (Hamp) and Rod are committed to finding just about anything. We know we can’t have turf, we’re a dome team. So let’s find the best rated lawn we can get our hands on. So that was a priority.”
Several Lions players have complained about the turf this season, including Lions NFLPA representative Jason Cabinda. Via MLive:
The grass really bothers the shin splints, if only because it’s so hard. It does not have this natural grass gives. You can feel the difference, especially once you hit the ground running. It’s completely different when you get to the lawn, sure. You will definitely notice that the grass is harder. It hurts more.”
The urgency of the move revolves around player safety, Campbell says, and it shows a commitment from ownership that cost will not be a disincentive when it comes to player safety.
“I think that’s another reason why this is such a good place to be,” said Campbell. “When you have ownership that is willing to do anything — and it kind of starts with the players — I think they think that way. I think that’s big.”