Steelers Notebook: Cowher defends Heinz Field turf
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Andy Starnes, Post-Gazette
Ben Roethlisberger and his mother, Brenda Roethlisberger, sit on one end of a giant soup spoon-shaped scale, balanced by cases of Chunky soup during a weigh-in to help support food banks. Max Starks and his mother, Eleanor Starks, also were weighed. The combined weight of the Roethlisbergers and Starks will be donated to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Most Steelers seem to prefer playing on a good artificial surface over what they play on at Heinz Field. Not their coach.
"I would never like to see artificial turf," Bill Cowher said yesterday. "I'm very happy with what we have."
The Steelers play on DD GrassMaster, a combination of Kentucky bluegrass reinforced by a small percentage of artificial fibers. Players slipped often on the grass in their Sept. 7 opener, held at night, and many more slipped Sunday, when the game started at 4:15 p.m.
The first big play of the game featured two slips, by Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Ty Law as he tried to cover Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes, who then slipped and fell to end his 50-yard gain.
"I think it was that time of day," Cowher said. "The sun went down, and there was a natural drop in temperature. I don't think it had as much to do with the field as it did the time of day."
The New England Patriots are the latest team set to replace its grass surface with FieldTurf, reportedly before they play the Chicago Bears Nov. 26 in Gillette Stadium. (By the way, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a 17-1 record on artificial turf).
The Steelers practice often on FieldTurf at their indoor field, but Cowher prefers the real stuff on game day.
"It may be a little unsettling for some of the players," Cowher said, "but in the long run, for the health of players, it's the right thing to do."