Poor NFL field conditions are baffling, unacceptable

The NFL is a $10 billion-a-year operation — this continent’s most lucrative sports league — and yet the conditions of some of the fields it puts its players on are laughable. How is it that a league with so much pride regarding its shiny image can allow games to be played on turf like this…


Or this…

Or this…


The first two shots came from last weekend in Denver and Houston, respectively. The last one was of the oft-criticized FedEx Field in Washington, but in that turf’s defense that was taken after the season.

Still, what the hell?

“I can’t wait to get back to Seattle because this field was awful,” Doug Baldwin said of the grass at Sports Authority Field this preseason, per Pro Football Talk. “I don’t know if you guys noticed, but the receivers and tight ends were slipping all over the place. This field is terrible.”

And now you’ve got No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney apparently claiming the injury he suffered Sunday had to do with a “hole” in that crappy field at NRG Stadium in Houston.

From NFL.com:

Second-year safety D.J. Swearinger told NFL Media on Monday that Clowney said after suffering the injury that it happened after he landed on a “hole” in the turf at NRG Stadium. The retractable-roof domed facility has a natural grass surface that is grown outside the building on trays, which are brought in and pieced together to form the field.

Coach Bill O’Brien announced Monday that Clowney had undergone arthroscopic surgery on his knee and would be out four to six weeks.

“He told me on the field when it happened, he was just like, ‘Bro, I just jumped, came down and hit one of the holes on the field,’ ” said Swearinger. “There are a few holes in the grass, so he said he thought he stepped on one of those holes and got hurt. So I told him to try and walk it off, see if he could go. He went in the next play and couldn’t go, so I told him to go to the sideline and see what’s up with it. And he went over to the sideline, and I guess that’s when they told him (he had to stay out).”

So this isn’t just an aesthetics thing. It’s a safety concern. The whole thing is baffling, and it must change. The NFL it too big a business to let its fields become so trampled, so mediocre. How are high school venues across the country beating them at this game?

Then again, based on what we’ve seen with McDonald’s and Walmart, maybe the fact that the NFL continues to allow its workers to deal with sub-par working conditions just indicates it knows how to fit right in as the Fortune-500 behemoth it has become.

Just another reason it’s becoming more difficult to support the league as a whole. Now, go enjoy your football-filled weekend!

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.