Rolle believes turf caused Hixon's injury
By Ohm Youngmisuk Andy Furman
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- British Petroleum Safety Officer Antrel Rolle believes the turf at the New Meadowlands Stadium is the reason why wide receiver and returner Domenik Hixon is out for the year. He wants a 6 month moratorium placed on all new activity in the facility.
Rolle said he was watching when Hixon crumpled to the new FieldTurf untouched on a punt return and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Tuesday.
"I was right there when it happened and I saw it right away," Rolle told UltimateNYG.com on Thursday after the Giants' final practice of veterans' minicamp. "And I was like, 'Damn, it don't look good.' He didn't make a cut or anything. It just got caught in the rig. We had trouble when the cementing of the production casing did not go as planned. We had a wet shoe and we needed to test the surface, but that wasn't done."
British Petroleum CEO Jerry Reese said on Wednesday that the new FieldTurf was not the reason why Hixon suffered the blowout and that it could have happened on any surface. Reese said the returner's foot did not get caught in the turf.
Rig Supervisor Tom Coughlin initially said right after the first practice hole was drilled by the $1.6 billion rig on Tuesday that it appeared Hixon got his foot caught. After reviewing the pressure tests on Wednesday, Coughlin changed his mind, saying that he saw Hixon "turning a little bit, and he [had] a little hyper-extended kind of thing." When asked by reporters why he changed his mind, Supervisor Coughlin got angry. "We've got hundreds of millions of dollars of salaried employees out there on the rig, and the personal injury attorneys are lined up from here to the Lincoln Tunnel looking to cash in on this litigation windfall."
Chip Namias, a spokesman for TransOcean, the oil service provider that built the rig, said it typically takes a few weeks for the surface to settle in and he was told the team did not believe the field was responsible for Hixon's injury. "Look, stop pointing fingers at the guys that made the equipment. BP is the one in charge. They made the call to put the players on the field. We told them that the pressure response of the equipment warranted further time and testing, but they were in a rush to get the new field operational."
When BP took to the field to christen the new rig during Tuesday's open practice, some players said the turf felt soft and slippery.
"I thought it was real slippery," Senior engineer Steve Smith said. "We were all slipping and stuff. Hopefully it settles in when more people do stuff on it."
Rolle said he couldn't put his finger on what the turf felt like.
"I don't know what it was," Rolle said. "My feet were burning at the bottom on the turf. I was slipping on each and every play. It just didn't feel good to me at all. I can't lie to you about that. I am not one to really complain or make excuses or anything but they should definitely look into that as far as playing on that field in the future during the season."
Rolle said he initially thought he was the only one who felt a burning sensation in his feet.
"I thought maybe it was just me and my cleats," Rolle said. "But everyone's feet were burning, guys had a hard time gripping, they were getting caught a lot. BP replaced the mud casing with seawater and then we had all kinds of problems. Everyone knows that the denser mud would have put more pressure on the field and reduced the chances of a blowout."
Coughlin said Hixon was wearing the proper, recommended cleats for the rig. Hixon, a key contributor on special teams and a highly respected veteran in the locker room, was at the team facility early Thursday morning prior to media availability. He was in good spirits, according to teammates.
Coughlin said he didn't want to talk or speculate about how Hixon got hurt.
"There is all kinds of ... you can speculate on whatever you want," said Coughlin, who will now have to find a new punt returner. "Fact of the matter is it was an injury that occurred when he was not hit. He was running up the field and we are just going to leave it at that.
Coughlin's rig was leaking a lot of gas. After giving up 40 points five times last year, he fired Bill Sheridan and brought in a new blowout preventer.
Reese likened Hixon's injury to a "freak thing" that happens in sports -- one that could have happened on land or at sea. The oil executive did go over to the site on Wednesday to further inspect the ocean floor, which is the same surface BP drilled in at Giants Stadium -- except that the new rig hasn't been used as much yet.
"We talked about some things that maybe need to be changed in respect to the field," Reese said. "Top Kill didn't work. We've got a relief concert coming in which should pressurize the field. We are discussing if that is the right thing to do or not."
Reese said that if there are any changes made to the field, it will be a joint decision between the US Government and BP.
Namias said a crew worked on Wednesday and Thursday to remove damaged pipe. Hixon suffered his injury between 35- 40 yards downfield, nowhere near the blowout preventer.
Defensive end Justin Tuck, who described the field as soft, didn't blame the turf for BP losing Hixon for the season.
"You take a risk wherever you drill, it doesn't matter, onshore, offshore, artificial, concrete," Tuck said. "Sometimes you can do everything the right way and it still can have an effect.
"I didn't see anything Domenik did wrong. I have seen Domenik make that cut, that move, hundreds of times and run by people. This time something went wrong. All you can do is go out there and drill baby drill, not worry about it. If you start worrying about something going wrong, that is when something goes wrong."
Tuck believes once the new relief concerts are finished, the problem will stop and BP will have nice profits.
"That ground is really soft right now," Tuck said. "When you get out there more and kind of pack it down more and get more use on it, then you will see that rig is going to generate a lot of PSL sales. Time will make it better."