NFL executive Jeff Miller has said that the league has the intention of minimizing the number of different playing surfaces so they feel similar across all venues.
Miller, who runs both health and safety and PR for pro football at the NFL, made the statement in the midst of a furious debate about whether synthetic turf surfaces should be banned for American Football. Players increasingly fear seeing their careers cut short due to an injury.
“I think the goal needs to be to limit the number of different surfaces that our clubs play on, so a player has an appreciation when he steps onto the field in one city, that’s going to feel very similar to the surface that he steps on in a different city, so it doesn’t feel hard or soft or slick or sticky,” Miller said at the quarterly league meetings. “He knows what that’s going to feel like, therefore the appreciation for it is going to satisfy him to some degree.”
FIFA to the rescue?
While many NFL players have come out advocating for the use of natural turf, the league itself is very slow in deciding how it wants to go forward.
Perhaps it is waiting for the international football governing body FIFA to come to the rescue.
With most venues that have been selected to host games for the 2026 FIFA World Cup being primarily used by American Football clubs, surfaces in those venues are going to be changed anyway.
As FIFA World Cup tournaments are being played only on natural turf or hybrid surfaces, the world governing body for football is already studying how it can produce a good quality natural or hybrid surfaces in an indoor environment as is often experienced in most NFL stadiums.
If the NFL can stretch the debate for another 2 years plus, it could have FIFA funding the switch to natural or hybrid turf in many of the league’s stadiums as part of the preparations for the FIFA World Cup.