This season, there has been an uproar from the NFL Players Association when it comes to playing surfaces. With so many athletes clamoring for safer conditions, turf fields have come under fire. It’s probably not realistic to expect cold-weather teams to have grass fields, but the Vikings are one of seven teams doing the absolute worst.
In mid-November, there was talk regarding a specific kind of turf field. Seven of the 32 teams in the NFL use slit-field turf. The Minnesota Vikings and their multi-billion dollar stadium are among them. That reality has hit home a bit more with rookie safety Lewis Cine recently sharing an opinion regarding his season-ending injury.
Calling the turf “sketchy,” it’s probably not news to Cine that the same turf used at Tottenham-Hotspur Stadium, where the Vikings took on the New Orleans Saints, is what U.S. Bank Stadium covers the playing stadium with. It’s already noteworthy how much harder a surface turf is. At its core, you’re simply covering concrete with fake grass and some ground-up tires. It will be problematic from a knee and joint perspective, but it doesn’t get any easier regarding non-contact injuries.
At some point, the argument should be made that playing surfaces can provide a competitive advantage for teams when it comes to signing free agents. If things are close to equal, health and longevity based upon what you have to play on in your home stadium is essential. On top of that, investing such substantial money in players (as the Vikings did with Cine being a top pick) only to put them in harm’s way despite a completely controllable decision seems unwise.
The Wilfs are absolutely loaded, and a change to a more forgiving surface could be made as quickly as a week’s notice. The only thing holding back such a change is finances, and that’s genuinely baffling given the circumstances. Minnesota currently holds a 9-2 record while looking to take over the top spot in the NFC. It would be beyond heartbreaking to see a player suffer an injury at U.S. Bank Stadium over something that can be avoided.
There are plenty of requests that players make during contract negotiations or within the parameters of the CBA. Some of those go above and beyond realistic accommodations. This should be as straightforward as it gets, and having yet to be addressed is not a good look for anyone involved.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.