INDIANAPOLIS -- When Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was hurt on a FedEx field so bad that the winning coach -- Seattle's Pete Carroll -- described it as "horrible," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell promised to see if something could be done to prevent a similar situation from occurring again.
Well, it appears something has.
According to Ray Anderson, the league's executive vice president of football operations, the NFL will be "more proactive" in deciding how or when to resod fields. While Anderson, here for competition committee meetings at the annual NFL Scouting Combine, said the league would not assume control from local stadium authorities, he did indicate it needs to be more involved in overseeing field conditions to minimize the chances of another FedEx mess from occurring.
"The policy is that the clubs -- or the stadium authority --has a lot of discretion with regard to the field," he said. "They determine the usage of the field, with regard to high school games, college games, concerts, etc. and they have typically had the discretion to determine when they want to ... or need ... to resod.
"Going forward, we're going to be much more proactive about making sure we, at the league level, make determinations, particularly with natural surfaces, later in the year subject to weather factors. We must be more attentive and more assertive about when certain standards or resodding or maintenance needs to be redone."
RG3 originally was hurt in a Dec. 9 victory over Baltimore when he suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter. He sat out the following game but returned to lead the Redskins to two more victories, including a division-winning season finale where he was, as coach Mike Shanahan put it later, "limited."
Nevertheless, he started the playoff opener vs. Seattle, reaggravated the injury, then suffered torn knee ligaments when he twisted while reaching for an errant snap in the fourth quarter. He later underwent five hours of reconstructive surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn lateral collateral ligament in his right knee.
Griffin's injury occurred little more than a year after Minnesota's Adrian Peterson suffered torn knee ligaments on the same field.
"There will be those who would say that field could have been resodded a month or so prior when conditions would have ended up being better at the end," Anderson said in answer to a question of the field's condition. "As a league, we go out and inspect and monitor [fields], but we've got to be more forceful about taking [matters] into our hands.
"I'm not necessarily talking about taking it out of their hands. But when our observers see a situation we will be much more forceful about saying this needs to be done and that this in fact will be done. We do spot-checks all the time and have a field certification process with regard to being able to determine hardness for instance. But from the league's perspective, we need to be more proactive determining the hardness and slickness and things like that with regard to playability."
When I asked about culpability with regard to the Jan. 6 game and condition of FedEx Field, Anderson tried to steer a neutral course -- though he was willing to accept blame.
"In my personal opinion," he said, "I think it was a combination of both the club and the league. And at football operations that comes to me at the end of the day -- for not paying close enough attention to the details soon enough."