Friday, January 24, 2003

Still the one: Vet NFL's worst field

By Eddie Pells
The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - There's no way the turf at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia can get any worse. Only because it won't be around next season.

The NFL Players Association released its biennial ranking of NFL playing surfaces Thursday. And surprise: The Vet ranked worst in the league once more, giving it a clean sweep of the worst spot since the survey began in 1994.

"It's true," NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw said. "It's a horrible field. Just awful."

The stadium known for hastening the end of many careers - Wendell Davis, George Teague and Michael Irvin, to name a few - has hosted its last NFL game.

Much to the rejoicing of players around the league, it will be demolished after baseball season and replaced by a new stadium in nearby South Philly.

As former Eagles linebacker Bill Bergey put it, "It's a dump, it's a toilet and the field is horrible, but it was our field, our dump and our toilet."

With the Vet gone, Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. becomes the next NFLPA target. The home of the Giants and Jets ranked second on the worst-fields list, even though it has natural turf.

In fact, five of the 10 worst fields were natural surfaces. Ranked 10th worst was Qualcomm Stadium, the field where the Super Bowl takes place Sunday.

"This survey demonstrates that a grass surface alone is no guarantee of excellence," Upshaw said.

The grass field in Cincinnati, a horribly torn-up surface, especially in the winter, was third worst. Artificial surfaces in Minnesota and New Orleans rounded out the bottom five.

"I remember there was a preseason game in Minnesota and the players were calling me, they were so upset," Upshaw said. "They were just dropping all over the place."

Raymond James Stadium in Tampa ranked first on the list of best surfaces. It was followed by Arizona, Seattle, Carolina and Jacksonville.

Seahawks Stadium uses FieldTurf, a new artificial turf set on a base of sand and rubber. Detroit's Ford Field, which uses the same surface, was rated 11th on the list of best fields.

More than 1,300 players filled out the extensive surveys. Among the other findings were that 88.8 percent of players preferred playing on grass over artificial surfaces, and 57.9 percent said they suffered one or more injuries on turf that they don't believe they would have occurred on grass.

Best and Worst Fields

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The best and worst playing fields following the 2002 player survey conducted by the NFL Players Association:

Best Playing Fields

1. Tampa Bay-Raymond James Stadium

2. Arizona-Sun Devil Stadium

3. Seattle-Seahawks Stadium

4. Carolina-Ericsson Stadium

5. Jacksonville-Alltel Stadium

6. Tennessee-Coliseum

7. Houston-Reliant Stadium

8. Denver-Invesco Field at Mile High

9. Washington-FedEx Field

10. Baltimore-Ravens Stadium

11. Detroit-Ford Field

12. Cleveland-Browns Stadium

13. Miami-Pro Player Stadium

14. New England-Gillette Stadium

15. Green Bay-Lambeau Field

16. Kansas City-Arrowhead Stadium

17. San Francisco-Candlestick Park

18. Pittsburgh-Heinz Field

19. San Diego-Qualcomm Stadium

20. Chicago-Memorial Stadium (Champaign, Ill.)

21. Oakland-Network Associates Stadium

22. Dallas-Texas Stadium

23. Cincinnati-Paul Brown Stadium

24. St. Louis-Edward Jones Dome

25. New York Giants-Jets-Giants Stadium

26. New Orleans-Louisiana Superdome

27. Atlanta-Georgia Dome

tie, Philadelphia-Veterans Stadium

29. Buffalo-Ralph Wilson Stadium

tie, Minnesota-Metrodome

31. Indianapolis-RCA Dome

Worst Playing Fields

1. Philadelphia-Veterans Stadium

2. New York Giants-Jets-Giants Stadium

3. Cincinnati-Paul Brown Stadium

4. Minnesota-Metrodome

5. New Orleans-Louisiana Superdome

6. Dallas-Texas Stadium

7. Buffalo-Ralph Wilson Stadium

8. Oakland-Network Associates Stadium

9. Pittsburgh-Heinz Field

10. San Diego-Qualcomm Stadium

11. Indianapolis-RCA Dome

12. Atlanta-Georgia Dome

13. Miami-Pro Player Stadium

14. St. Louis-Edward Jones Dome

15. Chicago-Memorial Stadium (Champaign, Ill.)

16. Green Bay-Lambeau Field

17. San Francisco-Candlestick Park

18. Carolina-Ericsson Stadium

19. Baltimore-Ravens Stadium

20. Detroit-Ford Field

21. New England-Gillette Stadium

22. Kansas City-Arrowhead Stadium

23. Houston-Reliant Stadium

24. Arizona-Sun Devil Stadium

25. Seattle-Seahawks Stadium

tie, Tennessee-Coliseum

27. Cleveland-Browns Stadium

tie, Tampa Bay-Raymond James Stadium

29. Denver-Invesco Field at Mile High

30. Jacksonville-Alltell Stadium

31. Washington-FedEx Field

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