In November 1969, Jim Murray took to his column to make the cry of “bring back the grass!” The trend du jour was moving from natural grass to the newly invented (1965) “chem-grass.” It was first used in professional sports in 1966 at the Houston Astrodome. In 1972, the first NFL stadium to install the artificial turf was Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, who will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl on Sunday . . . on real grass at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As of 2020, 17 of the 31 professional NFL stadiums featured natural grass, including, ironically, Arrowhead, the first place to go artificial many years ago.
Stadiums with Natural Grass:
Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas Raiders
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Chiefs
Bank of America Stadium, Carolina Panthers
FedEx Field, Washington Redskins
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland Browns
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Dolphins
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh Steelers
Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers
Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco 49ers
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia Eagles
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore Ravens
Nissan Stadium, Tennessee Titans
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Soldier Field, Chicago Bears
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver Broncos
State Farm Stadium, Arizona Cardinals
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1969, SPORTS
Copyright 1969/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY
Bring Back the Grass
I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of an old-fashioned guy who likes the real McCoy. I want butter that comes from cows. I like cotton in my shirts, wool in my socks, leather in my shoes.
I’m sick of the polyester, permanent press, plastic world. I don’t want additives in my bread, chemicals in my beer. I think Aspirin is the best cold remedy and castor oil will cure almost anything else that’s wrong with you. I squeeze real oranges for breakfast or I go without. I won’t buy a suitcase if it’s got plastic hangers in it.
But I’m willing to forgive the chemists, pharmacologists and syntheticians anything if they’ll just keep their cotton-pickin’ — pardon me, nylon-pickin’ — hands off sports.
Football should be played on grass, baseball should be played outdoors, and golf should be played against nature, not hydraulics. I wish DuPont would stick to explosives, and Monsanto to fertilizers, and leave the gamesmanship to us.
Take last weekend: Three fine football teams from the area, USC, UCLA, and the Rams, ventured outside the all-wool-and-a-yard-wide world of the Coliseum and entered the plastics division of sports. You would have thought they were playing the game on solid ice. You half-expected them to halt the game at any time and say, “Wait a minute, I’ll go home and get my skates.”
The only game that should be played on an artificial surface is pool. (I exclude hockey, because, while it is artificially made, the surface is, after all, real ice and not a Libbey-Owens-Ford derivative.)
I am not fully persuaded a football field should even be MOWED. (I remember one year, the Trojans of USC played a game in Colorado in which they complained the grass was too tall for them, but I have to think any offense that can’t move the ball against high grass should turn in its scholarships.)
You see, good old American know-how can’t leave any sport, fabric, climate, river, lake, or any other natural condition alone. It would tinker with Paradise. It feels it can fade nature. It can give you a rose without thorns, cattle without horns. I expect any day now they will let the contract for construction of a new synthetic earth and use this old one for a warehouse.
Take baseball. They began to construct parks to eliminate the cheap home runs (forgetting the cheap home runs saved baseball after the Black Sox scandal) and, the next thing you knew, they were playing it indoors, on felt and with air conditioning. You take the sweat out of baseball, the blood out of football, and the walk out of golf and, pretty soon, you have a nice permanent-press wash-and wear no-calories form of athletics. You can buy a world’s championship in a super market.
I mean, where does it end? Do you have bats with adjustable settings for curveballs, fastballs, off-speed pitches — or are they self-correctible for whichever shows up at the plate? Do you magnetize gloves so fly balls will drop in them wherever they are stuck up in the air?
Football on a carpet, indoors, at regulatory 72 degrees is an obscenity. Football is supposed to be played in nose-biting cold, watched from inside a raccoon coat, and on Mother Earth. It should not be played on any surface you can vacuum-clean or hang on a clothesline and beat. If it’s raining or snowing, it should trickle down your neck, get in your cleats. Give us back our mud, gopher holes, puddles, grass. Go carpet Rhode Island or dome Delaware, if you must, but let’s play football the way Walter Camp did. We don’t want powdered football, artificially-sweetened baseball, or miracle fabric golf any more, thank you.
Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times
Jim Murray Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 661532, Arcadia, CA 91066