Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to: email@example.com
Do players prefer artificial turf or real grass? Does the answer differ from position to position? Do coaches have a preference?
Fort Collins, Colo.
Farmer: Although I haven’t talked to a bunch of coaches about this, we can safely assume they prefer the surface on which their players are least likely to get hurt. The NFL Players Assn. has conducted multiple in-depth surveys on this topic, and the one most frequently cited is from 2010, so the results are somewhat dated. But some of the highlights from that survey, which polled every player in the league, are that 89.7% said artificial turf is more likely to shorten their career, 89.1% said they are more sore after playing on that synthetic surface, and 82.4% said fake grass is more likely to contribute to an injury. Players voted Arizona as the best grass field and Pittsburgh as the worst.
As for artificial grass, the best was Indianapolis, and the worst was the old field in Minnesota’s Metrodome (See? It’s dated.). The survey doesn’t break it down by position. Anyway, real grass is the runaway winner.
But I like to get a first-person take, so I asked legendary Steelers safety Troy Polamalu which surface he preferred. “I used to love playing against teams in Pittsburgh,” he said. “I could guard Marvin Harrison in 5 inches of mud and rain and wind. But put me against him on turf and it’s a different story. Obviously, different styles match different environments. … But tough conditions make offenses one-dimensional, and we had the best bad-weather back [Jerome Bettis] in the history of the game. So I knew it was always going to be an advantage to us when it was a bad game. … I would prefer grass over turf, but it’s not as if turf took away from my experience of the game.”
In overtime, if one team scores a field goal, and then the other team gets the ball, is it possible for the team that kicked the field goal to score on a turnover and therefore win by nine points?
Farmer: Yes, strange as that sounds. Even though the game ends when the trailing team fails to score, that play — an interception or fumble return — would still be alive and would continue to completion. There would be no point after, however.