NFLPA says UNLV practice field “isn’t up to snuff” for 49ers’ practices
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan both say the practice field the 49ers are using at UNLV this week is adequate to prepare them for the Super Bowl, but the NFL Players Association says adequate isn’t good enough.
NFLPA Executive Director Lloyd Howell said today that the UNLV practice field “really isn’t up to snuff for what our players deserve.”
Asked about the concerns that the 49ers didn’t have a good field to practice on, Howell said the NFL never should have allowed it to become an issue in the first place.
“Hopefully we’ve gotten to a workable condition, but the mere fact that you’re asking the question in our biggest event means that this is an issue,” Howell said.
NFLPA President J.C. Tretter said the union doesn’t think there’s an injury risk with the field but does think it’s of a lower quality than NFL players deserve.
“We need to raise the level to make surfaces high quality,” Tretter said.
Howell said he’s been looking into issues surrounding playing surfaces since he took the job as NFLPA boss last year and that players care about it as much as they care about any issue facing their workplace.
“The one issue where there was unanimous commentary was, ‘At the end of the day, I want to play on the highest quality grass surface,’” Howell said.
According to an NFLPA survey, 92 percent of players prefer to play on high-quality grass, 6 percent were indifferent to the difference between grass and synthetic turf, and of the 2 percent who prefer synthetic turf, most are kickers.
“Grass fields have a lower injury rate,” Howell said. “A difference in what kind of chronic pain they’ll be in for the rest of their lives.”
Howell also noted that NFL stadiums are being used for the 2026 World Cup, and grass fields will be put on top of the NFL’s synthetic turf fields.
“For another sport, it’s possible,” Howell said.
The union believes it’s possible in the NFL, too, but the owners are not willing to invest the resources in making sure that every NFL game is played on a high-quality grass field.