The Sad Sod Story

I was wrong.

While doing a live report on the pre-game show on WTAE, I said it was going to be a quagmire on Monday Night Football.

It was worse.

If you saw it, you know how bad the re-sodded stadium turf looked and played as the Steelers and Dolphins slogged to a 3-0 Pittsburgh win in the pouring rain. Now, before you write this off as a sports blog by a former sports guy, let me make my case.

There are more important things in the world than the turf at Heinz Field – like global warming – and I could think of a better use for $100K than re-sodding a football field. That being said, what happened last night was a national embarrassment.

Monday Night Football – for better or worse – is one of the best marketing tools for a city. The whole world is literally watching and this is a chance for people who never come to Pittsburgh to see the city in all it’s glory. This is why all the downtown building keep the lights on all night.

However, the post-game comments from the national media made one of Pittsburgh’s prized resources – Heinz Field – the butt of a national joke. Writers and commentators nationwide this morning are questioning whether the game should even have been played given the atrocious field conditions. NFL experts saying this was by far the worst field conditions for a game since the 1940’s .. and these are some of the nicer comments.

What troubles me most is that in every national story, there is a mention of the WPIAL championships being played two days before as if that was part of the problem and partly the reason the turf was so terrible. I sincerely hope the high schoolers do not get hung out to dry for what happened on Monday night and can still play their championships on the North Shore.

What I hope we did witness was a watershed moment. An awakening for the Steelers organization that it’s now time to move towards Field Turf, a widely used grass substitute which virtually every high school uses. It’s safer, more durable, it lasts longer and drains better. I know the Rooneys would love to have grass on their home field but what took place last night made it abundantly clear this cannot work.

The Steelers had the best of intentions. Now, it’s time to use the best of common sense.

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