Spectators of the 57th Super Bowl game at the State Farm stadium have blasted the grounds care team for the poor surface.
Players on both teams complained about the slick turf. They claimed it caused them to lose their footing when executing crucial plays and yards. According to Kansas City’s defensive end Frank Clark, all he could do was dig his feet deeper into the surface, thereby making things even worse.
Eagles offensive lineman Jordan Mailata was particularly staunch in his criticism of the sphere’s quality.
“It was just slick. You couldn’t anchor. You had to get your whole foot in the ground. If you try and use your toe, you’d slip right away,” Mailata stated. “It was like a water park out there, and we were playing on grass.”
Half a dozen Eagles players changed their cleats at halftime.
Players also claimed that the half-time performance by singer Rihanna and her dancers left holes in the surface.
Oklahoma State University, who developed the turf, has issued a statement and blamed the NFL and grounds care team about the poor performance of the turf they developed.
“While OSU scientists developed and patented Tahoma 31, they had no role in creating or preparing the field for Super Bowl LVII,” said the college. “Tahoma 31 was used for the base layer, but the field also was seeded with a top layer of ryegrass, which has slick leaf surfaces when damp. That and other factors may have contributed to traction issues during play.”
Frank Rossi, associate professor at Cornell University, an expert on turfgrass management, says grass type had little to do with it.
“In my judgement, grass type had little if anything to do with surface performance. Surface performance is rather affected by the environment – an indoor, low light, mostly enclosed stadium, with 72,000 fans – on grass that routinely moves outside then back inside. Specifically, this environment can allow humidity to increase at the field level, and, with minimal air movement, can make the surface slick. If the athletes don’t plant their feet properly on the slick surface, they slip.
“This is a critically important difference between natural and synthetic turf. Synthetic turf allows for maximum traction (based on shoe type) and therefore little, if any, slipping, which means the energy the foot puts into the field with a cut / as they run, is transferred back into the lower extremities, and that is why synthetic turf has a 24% increased chance of non-contact lower extremity injury.
“The fields are tested by the NFL for traction with a device that simulates an athlete putting their cleat properly into the turf, and measures shear strength. I’m sure when a cleat got planted directly in the turf, the Tahoma 31 (overseeded with ryegrass), they didn’t slip. While both teams play on natural grass at home (KC and Philly) they play outside where sun and wind can influence the surface. They also play on a lot of synthetic turf where planting their foot the way they did last night did not result in the same outcome – they slipped.
“Interestingly, there were no lower extremity injuries and offenses were very productive, as were special teams. There is data from Australian rules football that has shown players are more likely to prefer to play on surfaces that allow them to perform at a high level (faster, better cuts) and they are also more likely to suffer non-contact injuries on the surfaces they prefer.”