NFL playing surfaces is a hot topic. When Aaron Rodgers suffered an ACL tear in Week 1, the debate between artificial turf and grass heated up.
This week, the league announced a crowd-sourced challenge to accelerate innovations that can help make playing surfaces more consistent and safer for players.
NFL players continue to advocate for grass fields because of the link with non-contact lower-body injuries on artificial turf. NFLPA’s new executive director, Lloyd Howell, released a statement in September saying all NFL stadiums need to have natural grass.
Currently, 14 teams out of 32 do not play on real grass. The Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers use a combination of turf and grass.
The league is inviting submissions for how it can better its playing surfaces ... and offering a reward.
According to the NFL: "The 'HealthTECH Challenge I' is open to submissions from companies and new ventures from outside the surface industry, including representatives of academic institutions, design houses and other entities that specialize in engineering, advanced manufacturing, and material science."
"The challenge will provide up to $100,000 to entrants with ideas that further improve the safety and consistency of playing surfaces. The individuals or groups who submit projects that are selected for funding will have the opportunity to work with an expert support team to further develop their concept and plan for creating a finished product."
The Patriots play at Gillette Stadium, which switched from grass to turf in 2006. New England upgraded the turf in 2017 and the new surface features FieldTurf's latest monofilament technology. FieldTurf is used in five NFL game fields in the NFL: New England, Seattle, Atlanta, Detroit and Indianapolis.
The 2-8 Patriots are on their bye week as they brood over a Week 10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in which Coach Bill Belichick benched quarterback Mac Jones. Rumors swirl about Belichick's job security while a matchup looms Nov. 26 against the New York Giants.