Anyone who has been watching a fair share of football games at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona knows that too often the natural grass field atop the 40-inch deep tray that is customarily rolled in for game days is too slippery.
Ask the Cardinals’ opponents.
Ask the Fiesta Bowl teams.
Ask the NFL.
While the Arizona Cardinals have been doing all that they can to present a state-of-the-art facility for the players — the great rollable grass tray experiment has been more theoretical than practical in terms of minimizing the kind of sloppy field conditions that can lead to serious injuries, too many of which have been the dreaded non-contact ligament and tendon tears.
While one can argue that the Cardinals have not been able to get the field conditions consistently right — the same argument can be made for the NFL, whose grass field experts failed to provide the kind of solid traction that coaches, players and fans expect from inside an indoor/outdoor Super Bowl venue. That in itself should be a major red flag.
If the NFL experts couldn’t provide a grass field with solid traction at State Farm Stadium in Arizona, then who can?
A modicum of common sense can indicate that whenever the players have to change the kind of football shoes/cleats they are wearing before and/or during a game, something is significantly wrong about the field conditions.
Indoor stadiums are not supposed to have slippery playing surfaces.
When players are forced to wear molded shoes with 2”-3” cleats, then the chance of the players’ cleats getting caught in the turf becomes magnified.
Common sense should suggest that a natural grass field that has been watered all week while sitting in the blistering Arizona heat for days on end, and then rolled in to an enclosed, air-conditioned stadium filled with thousands upon thousands of fans is most likely going to gather a fair amount of condensation.
For the Cardinals, their first game of the 2022 season was an indictment on the slippery field conditions and so was the final game of the season for the Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs had plenty to say about those harrowing conditions on both occasions.
The Arizona Cardinals, for one reason or another, have been consistently devastated by injuries on a yearly basis for well over a decade now.
Every team suffers its share of injuries, but the Cardinals year to year injury accumulations have to be right up there with the league leaders.
Could an often slippery playing surface have something to do with the Cardinals’ avalanche of injuries?
The Cardinals need to do everything in their power to prevent another onslaught of injuries. They have hired new trainers. They have upgraded their strength and conditioning programs. Now they need to create a playing surface that will consistently provide the players with reliable levels of traction.
Yet, the Cardinals keep telling people that their “grass is fine.”
Some media figures, pundits and fans continue to believe the same:
Crazy how folks like to make a big deal out of something that hasn’t been an issue. The field is in the exact same shape it’s been for the past decade at this time of the year.— Cameron Cox (@CamCox12) August 10, 2023
They do camp on it — then before week one, they put new grass down. https://t.co/tAri7aVtB4
OK —- let’s talk about the past decade.
Here is a list of some of the Cardinals’ players who, over the past decade, suffered significant, year-ending injuries while playing in a home game or practice at State Farm Stadium:
- Darnell Dockett —- ACL
- QB Carson Palmer —- ACL
- T Jared Veldheer —- fractured ankle
- S Tyrann Matthieu —- ACL
- C A.Q. Shipley —- ACL
- G Ethan Mathis —- torn ankle ligaments
- T D.J. Humphries —- dislocated patella with ligament damage
- DT Robert Nkemdiche —- ACL
- DT Corey Peters —ACL
- G Justin Pugh —- ACL
- DE JJ Watt —- dislocated shoulder with a host of torn ligaments
- WR DeAndre Hopkins —- MCL
- QB Kyler Murray —- ACL
- RB Marlon Mack —- ruptured Achilles
No big deal?
This list of injured players is mostly a “Who’s Who” of many of the Cardinals’ top stars and highest paid players.
One could argue that these types of injuries could happen anywhere.
However, a strong factor that one would be remiss to ignore is how the chances for significant injuries multiply when running, pivoting and cutting are compromised by unreliable traction —- plus —- considering the volume of practices and games a player has to maneuver on a less-than-ideal playing surface.
Is it just by freaky coincidence that so many of these top players for the Cardinals were injured in their home stadium?
The whole purpose of the retractable grass playing field was to minimize injury risks. But, a grass field that lacks the consistently ideal degree of traction can defeat the purpose —- and in Arizona —- defeating the purpose of the retractable grass field continues to be an alarming case, year-in and year-out.
Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame, Fiesta Bowl 2016:
Do the Cardinals have a significant playing surface problem at State Farm Stadium?
This poll is closed
Yes, it is obvious
Yes, but like so many other Cardinals’-related controversies, the FO propagandizes the media and fans to think it’s of no urgent importance
No more than any other team
No, it’s no big deal
if you believe the grass surface at State Farm Stadium is an on-going problem, then how should the Cardinals ameliorate the situation?