NFL commissioner addresses player safety ahead of Super Bowl LVIII

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed several league topics – including player safety – during his press conference ahead of Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

NFL playing surfaces, specifically the differences between natural grass and synthetic turf, have become a hot button topic when it comes to player safety. Goodell hopes to explore a new innovation as a potential option while being consistent across all 30 NFL stadiums.

“This has been a major focus with the Players Association, and we have jointly worked with experts to try to study this question,” Goodell said. “It’s not always just grass or synthetic. We think hybrid is something to really explore. That’s actually what they use in international soccer, is a hybrid type of format. Additionally, I think we’ve got to look at different circumstances, right? You play in a dome for four and half months, that’s pretty hard to grow grass. You can sometimes take it in and out. You can find a way of trying to replace that. But we want to try to get the best possible field surfaces, and that is something that varies from market to market, climate to climate. One of the the things that we think is very important and the studies that we’re doing, is consistency. And when I say consistency, it’s not just on the entire playing surface, but it’s consistency of what players are playing on during the week leading up to the game. What they’re practicing on and what they play on. That consistency is really important, according to our engineers and our experts. So we’re looking at that with the Players Association and hope we can find better solutions and continue that focus.”

Goodell was also asked about reports of the San Fransisco 49ers being displeased with their practice field for the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Goodell said that the practice facility at UNLV was approved unanimously.

“That work is being done every single day,” he said. “We had 23 experts out there. We had the union out there. All of them think that’s a very playable surface. It’s softer than what they have practiced on, but that happens. It’s well within all of our testing standards. It’s something that we think all our experts, as well as neutral field inspectors, have all said unanimously that it’s a playable field.”

The full report is available on the NFL website.