TAMPA -- The Steelers may be playing for supremacy in the NFL on Sunday, but their playing surface at Heinz Field came out a loser again.
Heinz Field ranked dead last among the 18 grass fields in the league, according to a vote of 1,565 active NFL Players that was conducted by their union and released today.
Heinz Field took over the bottom spot from the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium, voted the worst grass field in the previous survey, conducted in 2006. Since then, the Patriots installed artificial turf and Heinz Field rose one spot to No. 1 in the ranking of "worst grass fields" in the NFLPA survey in 2008.
Even the Steelers players themselves thought Heinz Field was the worst among the grass playing surfaces. Using a point system that asked each player to pick the worst three grass playing fields in the NFL (three points for worst, two for second-worst and one for the next worst), the Steelers overwhelmingly voted for their home field as the worst.
Heinz Field drew 59 points in the vote of Steelers players. Second-worst grass field, according to the Steelers' vote, was Oakland's with 13 points. This, even though many players publicly proclaim they like their home field surface.
The DDGrassMaster playing surface at Heinz Field is grass with tiny fibers woven to hold it together and anchor it into the ground. The past two years, the Steelers have paid to have grass sod cover the surface late in the season.
The poor ranking is nothing new for Heinz Field. In 2004, when all fields were lumped together, artificial and grass, Heinz Field ranked sixth worst. In 2002, it ranked ninth worst in the first NFLPA survey taken that included the new stadium in Pittsburgh.
Heinz Field follows a tradition long held by Three Rivers Stadium, which ranked second-worst in the first survey, taken in 1994, fourth-worst in 1996, third-worst in 1998 and second-worst in 2000, that stadium's final year.