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The NFL Spent Two Years And $800,000 On The Super Bowl’s Field That Ended Up Being Awful

Ahead of the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, there was a lot of discussion about the field the teams would be playing on. Arizona is one of two stadiums (Vegas being the other) that have a retractable grass field that lives outside of the dome before being rolled in for gameday, but despite not being fake turf, it is routinely considered one of the worst surfaces in the league.

The NFL tried to get ahead of that problem by investing a ton into the Super Bowl field, spending $800,000 and two years growing a new hybrid of grass at a Scottsdale sod farm specifically for this event.

Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the playing surface from being a considerable talking point during and after the game, as players were routinely losing their footing on what appeared to be an incredibly slick surface.

During halftime, Terry Bradshaw ripped the NFL for painting so much of the field, suggesting that all of the logos painted on the field were contributing to the issues. Rihanna’s halftime show stage only exasperated issues, as field staff tried desperately to fill in divots from the stage and dancers before the teams came back on the field. After the game, players on both sides said the field was a disaster, although they all noted it didn’t really hinder one team more than the other because everyone was dealing with the same issues — via The Athletic.

“I’m not going to lie: It was the worst field I’ve ever played on,” Reddick said.

Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata said he was no grass expert, but the field was “definitely subpar.”

Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark called the field conditions “kind of terrible” and said as the game unfolded, he just started digging his feet into the turf to help his footing because he was slipping so much.

The field was likened to a water park, which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given the location of the field. Out in the desert, the only way to get lush, green grass is to oversaturate it with water to compensate for how quickly it can dry out. In this instance, it’s less likely it was an issue of the grass hybrid type or the retractable field system, but just too much water being used to get the right aesthetic of a green field in a place that can bake out grass if it’s not heavily watered. Ask anyone who’s played golf on a desert course with grass that looks as green as the field did Sunday night, and they won’t be surprised to find out players found it slick and soft.

The NFL could’ve undoubtedly done better with the handling of the grass, but at the same time, if the field was showing signs of browning and drying out, they would’ve gotten buried for that too by fans — although it likely would’ve been far superior to play on for the players.