After much criticism and complaints from players, coaches and just about everybody, officials with the Washington Redskins announced Tuesday plans to redo the field at FedEx field—literally from the ground up, according to Washington, DC radio station ESPN 980.
The biggest part of the resurfacing plan is something that has never occurred at FedEx Field. The Redskins' groundskeepers will remove and replace the midfield sod during the season—a 22-day span in November when the Redskins will face the San Diego Chargers at home then travel for two consecutive weeks.
The new mid-season turf, which will run the length of the field and between the "bottom of the numbers" on each side of the field, will be ready for the team's home game November 25 against the San Francisco 49ers.
ESPN 980 reporter Chris Russell reported the story after a lunch meeting and walking tour April 23 with team officials as they described work that has been approved and, in some cases, has already begun.
The poor field condition was mentioned as a factor in the knee injury to quarterback Robert Griffin III—who clearly lost his footing on more than one occasion during the teams loss to the Seattle Seahawks in their NFC Wild Card Game last January.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who is not shy in front of the camera, didn't mince his words one bit in a post-game interview.
"It was awful. ... There was no real traction in it. On top of [that], there were giant divots. On the field, when you cut and stuff, there are gonna be divots in the grass, but usually the grass is matted down so that the divots aren't big and they don't keep coming up. But they were friggin' potholes out there."
According to Russell, part of the work to be done at FedEx Field has already begun with the groundskeepers working on the field for the first time in four seasons. The field was excavated to the base because team officials realized the core of the problem was with the root system of the turf not receiving adequate drainage due to a backup of debris, silt and grass clippings.
As early as the first week of June, the field will be relaid with turf that is being grown off of the eastern shore of Maryland. Tests indicate this new sod does well in similar weather conditions along the East coast.
Additionally, FedEx Field will not allow any college football games on the surface during the renovation. There may be an exception made for a few soccer games.
The issue of field turf, or artificial turf, has always been called, "not an option" by general manager Bruce Allen. Head coach Mike Shanahan has said he would be "open to the discussion" of having field turf but he prefers grass.
With the injury of RG3 as an example of injuries that can result from poor playing surfaces, such as the case with FedEx Field through their last few weeks during last season's regular season, it is no wonder why this doesn't occur during every offseason.
While the loss to the Seahawks cannot be blamed on the poor turf conditions, since both teams played on the same field, it certainly was the motivating factor to have it replaced this offseason. Undeniably, the injury to RG3 set the wheels in motion to have this work begin as soon as the weather in Washington allowed for it.
It is a matter of protecting, or even more accurately, covering your assets.
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