Allen Park — Following the NFLPA’s emphatic recommendation for the removal of all slit film playing surfaces in November, the Detroit Lions are moving forward with the installation of new turf at Ford Field this offseason.
“The NFL and its experts have agreed with this data and acknowledge that the slit film field is less safe,” the NFLPA said in a press release. “Player leadership wrote a letter to the NFL this week demanding the immediate removal of these fields and a ban on them going forward, both in stadiums and for practice fields. The NFL has not only refused to mandate this change immediately, but they have also refused to commit to mandating a change away from slit film in the future at all.”
According to the NFLPA, slit film surfaces have been responsible for a higher rate of non-contact, lower extremity and foot and ankle injuries. During this season, multiple Lions players complained about the impact of that type of surface, including safety Tracy Walker, who is convinced the turf played a significant role in the torn Achilles he suffered in Week 3. That happened in Minnesota, where the Vikings also have a slit film playing surface at the team’s home stadium.
Even without a mandate from the league, the Lions had already been planning changes that would meet the union’s recommendations. This will be the third different surface at the home stadium in a decade. Last replaced with the slit film FieldTurf HD Classic in 2019, Ford Field will be switching to the monofilament FieldTurf CORE surface.
“This has been in the making for a while,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “Look, we’re committed, (owner) Sheila (Hamp) and (team president) Rod (Wood) are committed to finding — whatever it is, we know we can’t have grass, we’re a dome team, so let’s find the very best-rated turf that we can get. So, that’s been a priority.
“I think that’s a big deal,” Campbell said. “I think that’s another reason why, look man, this is a good place to be. When you have ownership that’s willing to do anything, and it kind of starts with the players, I think they think that way. I think that’s big.”
According to FieldTurf’s site, “CORE features FieldTurf’s heavyweight 3-layer infill system which has showcased a significant lower incidence of injuries per recent research by Michael C. Meyers, a professor in Idaho State University’s Department of Sport Science and Physical Education.”