The New England Patriots also switched from turf to grass in their football-only facility. Of the remaining football-only stadiums, four still have AstroTurf—Rich Stadium (the Buffalo Bills), the Meadowlands (the Jets and the Giants), Arrowhead Stadium (the Kansas City Chiefs) and Texas Stadium (the Dallas Cowboys). Arenas that host baseball and football would require more maintenance, but the cost would presumably be shared by the two teams. And that cost could hardly be seen as excessive when measured against the loss to injury of a $2.5 million-a-year player like Emtman.
Stadium administrators also argue that grass can't take the pounding it would be subjected to in busy arenas. Not true again, according to Bill Daniel, the inventor of Prescription Athletic Turf, a natural-grass maintenance system used in many football stadiums, including, in the NFL, Soldier Field, Miami's Joe Robbie Stadium, Washington's RFK Stadium and Mile High Stadium in Denver. Giants Stadium has 30 pro, college and high school football games a year, and rock concerts require that the field be covered by tarps for a week at a time. Could grass flourish there? "Yes," says Daniel. "Grass has a tremendous ability to recover. It can go about five days without light. There have been multiple-date concert events at Mile High Stadium, and it's survived well."
So the players are left to hope that the doctors' committee will endorse grass fields, and that the committee studying the shoe-to-artificial-turf-to-injury relationship will find better ways to make play on plastic less hazardous. Says Eagle linebacker Seth Joyner, "The human body wasn't made to stop and start and take the impact we put it through. So we know injuries are going to happen. We just think they can be cut back, and we don't see anybody doing anything about them."
The point is that one crucial variable in this violent game—playing conditions—can and must be improved.