Indianapolis now worst when it comes to turf
By EDDIE PELLS, AP Sports Writer
February 3, 2005
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Only the demolition of Veterans Stadium could knock Philadelphia from atop the list of the NFL's worst surfaces. That dubious spot now belongs to Indianapolis, where Peyton Manning and his speedy Colts receivers thrive, but opponents complain.
The survey of about 1,500 players pegged the RCA Dome in Indy as the worst field among the 31 stadiums in the league. That was followed by two other domed stadiums, Edward Jones in St. Louis and the Metrodome in Minnesota.
Before this year, Philadelphia had swept the voting for the worst surface in every survey since it started in 1994. But the Vet gave way to Lincoln Financial Field last year, and that ranked in the middle of the pack in the survey -- 13th worst.
The RCA Dome is the home of the annual NFL scouting combine. Hundreds of college players travel there in the offseason to be analyzed by NFL scouts, but many claim their 40-yard dash times are inflated on the turf. And although the Colts seem to like it, agents often advise their college clients against being timed on the surface.
``Now we know why none of those guys want to run on that stuff,'' said Gene Upshaw, president of the NFL Players' Association, which conducts the survey every other year.
The fourth- and fifth-worst fields are Miami and Oakland, two grass fields that also are used for baseball and often are covered with dirt early in the season.
``Some of our players really hate those conditions,'' Upshaw said.
Indianapolis, St. Louis and Minnesota are the only three stadiums left that have old-school artificial turf, which has less padding, more awkward seams and, many believe, greater chance for injury than the newer artificial surfaces that look and feel more like grass.
The union also asked the players to rank their favorite surfaces. Tampa Bay, Arizona and Carolina were the top three. Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, the host of this year's Super Bowl, was rated the seventh-best field in the league.