Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles injury just four plays into his New York Jets debut in Week 1 reopened conversations about natural grass vs. artificial turf in the NFL.
Multiple studies have shown that serious injuries are more common on artificial surfaces, and now the NFL Players Association is calling on the NFL to make a sweeping league-wide change to natural grass for the safety of the players.
NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell issued a statement calling for the change and even mentioned how quickly stadiums switch to natural grass for soccer matches over the summer.
“Moving all stadium fields to high quality natural grass surfaces is the easiest decision the NFL can make,” Howell said, according to Pro Football Talk.
“The players overwhelmingly prefer it and the data is clear that grass is simply safer than artificial turf. It is an issue that has been near the top of the players’ list during my team visits and one I have raised with the NFL.
Congrats @nfl. How many more players have to get hurt on ARTIFICIAL TURF??! You care more about soccer players than us. You plan to remove all artificial turf for the World Cup coming up. So clearly it’s feasible.
I’m sick of this..Do better!
— David Bakhtiari (@DavidBakhtiari) September 12, 2023
“While we know there is an investment to making this change, there is a bigger cost to everyone in our business if we keep losing our best players to unnecessary injuries. It makes no sense that stadiums can flip over to superior grass surfaces when the World Cup comes, or soccer clubs come to visit for exhibition games in the summer, but inferior artificial surfaces are acceptable for our own players.
“This is worth the investment and it simply needs to change now.”
It is a reasonable request backed by data that shows the switch would be safer for all of the players. But would the league really make that kind of investment that would be required to make the switch?
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely.
But when the World Cup comes to the United States in 2026, the host cities will be making the switch to natural grass for all of their venues to meet FIFA requirements.
The NFL needs to wise up and do the same.