SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones apologized to the San Francisco 49ers for his concerns and criticism of the Levi’s Stadium grass leading up to Sunday night’s preseason game.
Jones, speaking outside Dallas locker room after a 23-6 loss, said he should have inspected the sod himself before speaking out on the radio Friday. Coach Jason Garrett also expressed concerns.
“To begin with, realize the world championship is going to be played right on this same grass. By the way, let me say this, anything I said about that grass, I’m wrong, I take back. It’s a great playing surface,” Jones said, unprompted. “They’ve done a lot of work. I feel terrible that in any way without coming up here and doing my own grass inspection that I had any criticism of their grass. If we did a few things as good as they do grass, we’d have a lot better show here, too. Hats off to them. This is great management. These people do a great job.”
This time, the 49ers used a different company, Evergreen Turf out of Chandler, Arizona, which supplies the NFC West rival Cardinals. The field was re-sodded during the week following a pair of Taylor Swift concerts Aug. 14-15, then is scheduled to be at least partially re-sodded following a concert by Luke Bryan next Saturday and again with a brand new field for San Francisco’s Sept. 14 opener on a Monday night against Minnesota.
The hope is that field will stay put for close to half the season, if not longer.
Youth players even got to scrimmage during halftime as the grass held up well. On Aug. 1 for the Niners’ opening training camp practice in front of fans, the field quickly broke into chunks and forced first-year coach Jim Tomsula to move some previously scheduled practices from Levi’s Stadium to the nearby practice fields.
“I will tell you that our field guys and grounds crew are phenomenal,” Tomsula said after the game. “I have a ton of respect for them, a ton of confidence in them. I think they’re doing a great job. I can honestly tell you I did not look at the field one time all week.”
The 49ers reached an agreement with West Coast Turf to have their own designated section of sod so it is always ready when the franchise might need to change the grass. San Francisco also installed some synthetic turf this offseason around the outer, high-traffic section of the field that has helped with conserving water in drought-starved California.
The year-old, $1.3 billion stadium will host the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Jones said he went out early Sunday to look at the field and changed his stance.
“I really want to make it a point since I did make it a point to comment about it, I want everyone to know that I hadn’t done my Jones test,” he said. “I hadn’t gotten down and looked at the roots. I really hadn’t, seriously, and I owe them an apology. They’re taking enough heat as it is. I should understand more than anybody how hard they’re trying, how much they want to get it right. That was a good place to play a football game tonight, hats off to them.”