The Pittsburgh Steelers are accustomed to criticism surrounding a playing surface. After all, you would be hard pressed to find a NFL field which has received more criticism than Heinz Field since 2001. However, while members of the Steelers continue to support Heinz Field and the sod they call home on a regular basis, the Steelers players were on the other side of the fence after playing in the Hall of Fame Game vs. the Minnesota Vikings at Tom Benson Stadium, a High School stadium, in Canton, OH Sunday.
When asked what players thought of the field surface, it wasn't pretty.
"It sucked," safety Will Allen told Chris Bradford of the Beaver County Times. "They should have never had us in those field conditions."
Allen was't alone when others were asked a similar question.
"It was terrible," said right guard David DeCastro. "It was horrendous."
Tight end Matt Spaeth chose the high road and simply called the playing field, "poor".
If you weren't able to watch the game, haven't seen highlights or have never watched the start of the preseason at the Hall of Fame Game before, the field is a turf surface. For these comments to be said about an artificial surface is rare. However, injuries can still occur on an artificial surface, and some went as far as to suggest injuries like the one Shaun Suisham suffered could be in part to the poor playing conditions.
"When you play on surfaces like that, things like that tend to happen," said Spaeth.
Ultimately, many of the Steelers players were wondering why the NFL would allow a field like that one to be used when the risk of injury is so high. DeCastro went as far as to suggest the field "felt like you were playing on a piece of concrete".
"The NFL has got to do a better job with the field," said Allen, a 12-year veteran.
"I understand they had the ceremonies and everything the day before, but that's a high risk of injury. They pride themselves on player safety but whether that's hits on the field, but it's also field conditions. Quite frankly, I'm not a huge fan of field turf anyway. I'd rather play on grass. Grass is what football is made for at any level. Yeah, it sucked. That field was horrible."
The Steelers weren't able to leave the Hall of Fame Game unscathed, but maybe the comments made by the players will have the NFL consider the treatment of the field prior to the game which could severely impact a player, and team's, future.