What would Lombardi have said?

The Green Bay Packers will be installing a partially synthetic playing surface onto Lambeau Field for next season

This just isn't natural. It's borderline un-American.

Had you asked Vince Lombardi if he would want artificial turf on his famed Frozen Tundra, he might have replied by saying, "When Hell freezes over!"

Well, hell is freezing over.

The Green Bay Packers will install a partially synthetic playing surface onto Lambeau Field for next season.

Why not just build a dome over the joint?

OK, enough alarmist mumbo-jumbo.

It's not as if the Packers are putting in AstroTurf. It will be the same stuff the Packers have practiced on at the Clarke Hinkle Field the past couple of years.

Talk about high tech. Synthetic fibers will be stitched into the sod. No word on whether the Packers will hire the nation's most famous seamstress, Betsy Ross, to do the job.

Seriously, though, Packers general manager Ted Thompson says fans shouldn't fear this latest, modern update to historic Lambeau Field.

"It's grass, so that remains true to the spirit of our stadium," Thompson said. "Players will get dirty and have grass stains, that kind of thing."

The faux grass will have its roots extending 8 inches below the surface, with 1 inch exposed for the playing surface. It will provide better footing.

"I think what's on Hinkle is a lot better than what we've got on Lambeau right now," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "Not to say anything bad about it, because we've played on it and been successful in years past, but we need a better playing field, I think. It gets torn up all the time, and when you're trying to juke or plant and make an open-field tackle, it sometimes gives."

Not surprisingly, this was a bottom-line decision. The Packers are spending $35,000 this week to re-sod the middle of the field for the final two home games. The team re-sods the entire field every spring.

This is a long-term investment. About $3 million for the whole project, which includes new drainage and irrigation systems, a whopping 30 miles of tubing to update Lombardi's famous heating system, and a foot of sand on top instead of the current clay-and-soil base.

The new sod — all grass — will be laid in the spring, and the synthetic grass will be woven into it in late July. Also, part of the project will be a new service path around the stadium. The concrete surface that claimed safety Nick Collins during the Family Night Scrimmage will be replaced by a rubber track.

The high-tech turf, known as DD GrassMaster, is used by the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers.

No doubt, the players will appreciate the better footing on game days. If the technology had been available 10 years ago, though, would we have been blessed with watching Edgar "The Mudder" Bennett splashing through the Lambeau slop in the playoffs?

Go further back, and that vintage shot of Paul Hornung treading carefully into the end zone for the clinching touchdown against Cleveland in the 1965 NFL title game never would have happened. The photo of a mud-covered Forrest Gregg during a 1960 game is among the most famous in sports.

A more playable field is great, I guess. But nothing says football like a sloppy field and players covered in muck.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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