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Study finds ACL injuries more common on FieldTurf

The NFL’s Injury and Safety Panel presented a study today finding that anterior cruciate ligament injuries happened 88 percent more often in games played on FieldTurf than in games played on grass, the Associated Press is reporting.

Although that sounds like a fairly strong argument for replacing FieldTurf with grass in NFL stadiums, the league says further study is needed.

“The paper is designed to stimulate further discussion, inquiry, and improvements in playing surfaces,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said. “It does not draw any conclusions about the cause of the injuries analyzed. Our panel states in the report that additional analyses, data from future NFL seasons, and studies of injury rates on synthetic turf and natural grass surfaces, including for other athletic populations and levels of football, are needed before any conclusions can be drawn or recommendations made.”

The panel, which is chaired by Jets team orthopedist Dr. Elliott Hershman, presented its findings to owners, the players’ union and the companies that make artificial turf, of which FieldTurf is the largest.

The panel also found that sprained ankles happen more frequently on FieldTurf, but FieldTurf President Eric Daliere said the study was flawed.

“I don’t put a lot of weight in it and think it is unfortunate it is coming out this way at this time,” Daliere said.

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46 Responses to “Study finds ACL injuries more common on FieldTurf”
  1. JohnnySeoul says: Mar 12, 2010 12:57 PM

    No shyte

  2. SDFAN says: Mar 12, 2010 12:58 PM

    I guess from the perspective of the manufacturer, any study that seems to point in this obvious direction is “flawed”.

  3. Deminutah says: Mar 12, 2010 1:00 PM

    Duh

  4. SC21 says: Mar 12, 2010 1:02 PM

    Any link to the study?
    The real question here is how much better or worse FieldTurf is compared to the old crappy astroturf which it replaced.

  5. Wrongo says: Mar 12, 2010 1:04 PM

    A study comes out with statistical data and then is immediately poohpoohed by the league. This study actually supports the long held thoughts of most people that fake grass/sod/turf/ground either causes injury or does not prevent injury. I must say how shocked I am that the president of FieldTurf does not agree with the findings. Would be interesting to see what kind of testing they have done and what the results of that testing as compared to same tests performed on real turf.

  6. AZ Red Bird says: Mar 12, 2010 1:05 PM

    I did my masters thesis on Field Turf (Astro Turf) vs. Natural Grass in reference to athletics.
    There was not one solid reason to go with field turf over natural grass.
    Field turf in the long run is more expensive – due to cleaning up the blood, spit and skin in it.
    Field turf keeps the blood on it and when others get in contact they can get infected
    Field turf is MUCH harder on the players
    Field turf has injuries such as turf toe that are ONLY associated with turf and DO not take place on grass.
    Field turf has been proven to shorten a players career as it is much harder on the body.
    ACL injuries occur much more frequent with field turf.
    The only reason that my research found to use field turf was ‘The owner didn’t have the initial money to put down natural grass.’ Had they looked at the long term costs and effects they would have gone with grass.

  7. CapsLockKey says: Mar 12, 2010 1:08 PM

    FieldTurf is miles better than AstroTurf, but it still sucks. Football should be played on grass as it always has. Arizona did it right with their dome design. Otherwise play outside in the elements you pussies.

  8. SaintsBucsPanthersSUKK 2.0OH! says: Mar 12, 2010 1:09 PM

    BEWARE OF THE TURF MONSTER.

  9. DC_Bengals_Fan says: Mar 12, 2010 1:11 PM

    Sounds kind of logical – Field Turf provides better traction. However, better traction can lead to injuries when cleats don’t give.

  10. tbtsm15 says: Mar 12, 2010 1:12 PM

    88% more injuries is not a fluke or a statistical anomaly, regardless what the NFL says.

  11. nooj says: Mar 12, 2010 1:12 PM

    Sounds pretty conclusive to me.

  12. slayyer30 says: Mar 12, 2010 1:15 PM

    wow!! Really?? they should pay me to be a consultant because I could have told them that. Isn’t this like a known fact by everyone that you have a grater chance of ACL and anckle injury on turf?

  13. Contra says: Mar 12, 2010 1:18 PM

    So that explains why the Packers played like pussies against the Vikings.

  14. AirlineGuy says: Mar 12, 2010 1:20 PM

    Good thing Jerry didn’t install Field Turf at Dallas Cowboys Stadium or that would have been the main point of this article.

  15. The Greg says: Mar 12, 2010 1:20 PM

    As a scientist and professor, I firmly agree that correlation does not equal causation. This is a frequent concern in my world, as people often “jump to conclusions” because they lack an understanding of scientific methodology. However, having said that, that does not support Daliere’s assertion that the study is flawed (plus, he’s not exactly an unbiased observer!). Its actually a good study and its findings are valuable in context.
    Certainly more work needs to be done to understand the mechanism of these injuries (which is good for me because thats what I do, so I can keep my job!). Specifically, perhaps the issue isn’t the turf per se, but the fact that the turf allows/encourages athletes to run faster and jump higher, which places more forces on the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. and thus places those individuals at an increased risk of injury. In which case, theoretically, anyone who runs faster and jumps higher could be at an increased risk regardless of what surface they are running/jumping/landing on.
    Every little piece adds to the puzzle and this is a worthwhile piece.

  16. Dirte says: Mar 12, 2010 1:22 PM

    Agree with Daliere. As with many studies, numbers can be mis-leading and items/variables are often omitted.

  17. My Coke Can says: Mar 12, 2010 1:24 PM

    its those damn turf monsters, they jump and bite you and thats it…. done for the year

  18. GoBrowns19 says: Mar 12, 2010 1:25 PM

    Also, the earth is found to be round, not flat.
    If I were an NFL player drafted by a dome team or any gaggle of teams with this synthetic garbage I’d play out my contract and sign with an outdoor grass team. If for nothing else to lengthen my career and stay away from strawberries running up and down my arm after after game. Staph infections too.

  19. superbowl says: Mar 12, 2010 1:35 PM

    That is the end of this…
    I am removing fieldturf from my living room

  20. magsdad1 says: Mar 12, 2010 1:36 PM

    What a shock…

  21. tombrookshire says: Mar 12, 2010 1:38 PM

    Always the first comment out of the corporate mouth is, “we didn’t do it, not our fault, the study is flawed.” Never take responsibility, even when the data is right in front of your eyes. The players get hurt on the stuff you make, okay? Own it, fix it or get into the sod business.

  22. shaunypoo says: Mar 12, 2010 1:39 PM

    Confirms my study: I did 100% of my ACL tear on Field Turf.

  23. pilot08 says: Mar 12, 2010 1:44 PM

    thomas davis will agree

  24. WCRaider says: Mar 12, 2010 1:54 PM

    It would be helpful if you were to post a link to the study. Those of us with a scientific bent on life would like to read this study.

  25. DP says: Mar 12, 2010 2:02 PM

    Wendell Davis would also agree. Poor guy shredded both ACL’s on the same play. In an related matter, various national media sources are reporting the Eagles are looking into signing Wendell Davis.

  26. Kevin from Philly says: Mar 12, 2010 2:02 PM

    Unless they figure out a way to keep grass growing all season, and the field without ruts and divots (dispite twenty fat guys running across it and all kinds of non-football events, too), they’ll never get rid of artificial turf.

  27. coxypoo says: Mar 12, 2010 2:06 PM

    We are just learning this now?

  28. Bob Nelson says: Mar 12, 2010 2:07 PM

    Football is meant to be played outdoors on natural grass regardless of the weather.
    That is the way it ought to be.

  29. yem123 says: Mar 12, 2010 2:14 PM

    No shit…. Florio, I just completed a study, I found that among people who drink water, there is less overall thrist. Compared to people who do not drink water and tend to be thirsty. MORE RESEARCH IS NEEDED! LET’S NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS THOUGH!

  30. footballguy76 says: Mar 12, 2010 2:17 PM

    I’ve heard that this other turf company, Geo Turf, offers an alternative to field turf…they use an infill that isn’t crumb rubber but instead is comprised of coconut fibers and cork and has an unmatched G-max absorption rating which is suppose to significantly decreases the chances of injury…it’s the closest thing to real grass in the industry. The NFL should look into it…

  31. MotherTUCKer91 says: Mar 12, 2010 2:22 PM

    I think way too many of you are confusing Field Turf from Astro Turf.

  32. Dirte says: Mar 12, 2010 2:39 PM

    Ask the college kid from Miami who completely blew out his knee on that crappy grass field in Orlando. I bet that wouldn’t have happened on FieldTurf.

  33. godfather says: Mar 12, 2010 2:47 PM

    I’m not trying to defend the proponents of Field Turf, but many people should realize that keeping a grass field in playable condition week after week (and during the winter months) in some areas of the country is pretty difficult and cost prohibitive in itself.
    To the guy that did the thesis, what you do suggest for domes or closed roof stadiums? What do you suggest for wet weather outdoor stadiums where the turf is played on and chewed up multiple times a week (ie also used by college teams, etc)?

  34. AutumnWind999 says: Mar 12, 2010 2:53 PM

    I’m kind of surprised. I thought Field Turf was the solution to a lot of problems created by the asphalt-like old-school artificial turf as well as good alternative to natural grass.
    The thing to remember is that most teams using Field Turf are either in domes, where grass is not a practical option unless you have a state of the art system and setup like the Arizona Cardinals, or in cold weather cities where grass becomes rock-like, bumpy and very choppy late in the season. Look at the Steelers’ field the last several season and what that surface turns into in December and January. Is that really safer than Field Turf? I’m not so sure.

  35. momar3000 says: Mar 12, 2010 3:00 PM

    Ray Lewis said this 3 years ago….i hope they get rid of it all

  36. nohuddle12 says: Mar 12, 2010 3:08 PM

    As someone who is familiar with the artificial turf industry (I work for a manufacturer), I would like to point out that FieldTurf is a brand, just the same as Astroturf was, and still is a brand. The technology for these surfaces is continually changing, and depending on which manufacturer the surface is purchased, it is tufted and backed in many different ways. The testing actually originated in Europe when artificial turf fields were used by FIFA to replace many of their pitches. There studies show, as our scientist pointed out, as athletes push themselves to compete harder, the rate of injury spikes. Also, to correlate the injuries that occur on natural grass as compared to artificial, the findings were that the rate of injury, if not lower, was consistent between the two. These fields also allow Jerry Jones to run whatever show is in town in his stadium without fear of ruining Monday Night Football. In short, you guys should try to take your heads out of your rear ends. Stop believing everything in print you read, maybe do some research.

  37. Supersuckers says: Mar 12, 2010 3:30 PM

    AZ Red Bird says:
    March 12, 2010 1:05 PM
    I did my masters thesis on Field Turf (Astro Turf) vs. Natural Grass in reference to athletics.
    There was not one solid reason to go with field turf over natural grass.
    Field turf in the long run is more expensive – due to cleaning up the blood, spit and skin in it.
    Field turf keeps the blood on it and when others get in contact they can get infected
    Field turf is MUCH harder on the players
    Field turf has injuries such as turf toe that are ONLY associated with turf and DO not take place on grass.
    Field turf has been proven to shorten a players career as it is much harder on the body.
    ACL injuries occur much more frequent with field turf.
    The only reason that my research found to use field turf was ‘The owner didn’t have the initial money to put down natural grass.’ Had they looked at the long term costs and effects they would have gone with grass.
    ———-
    You must be confusing FieldTurf with AstroTurf. They are not the same. Field turf is actually softer then grass. It also hasnt been around long enough to do player career studies on it.

  38. Tdk24 says: Mar 12, 2010 3:37 PM

    I don’t know about that. How many ACL tears did they have in the 50’s or 60’s or 70’s? I’m willing to bet that the ACL issue is a byproduct of far superior athletes pushing their bodies past what it can handle. It just so happens that there is more FieldTurf now.

  39. blackglass says: Mar 12, 2010 3:58 PM

    Wes Welker doesn’t agree.

  40. tombrookshire says: Mar 12, 2010 4:01 PM

    This is like how pharmaceutical companies behave who know that their products hurt and kill people. They pay public relations firms to cover it up, spin it, refute the evidence and blame the patient. What happened to being accountable when it’s found that your product hurts people? Perhaps the answer is to stop making it, or to make it in such a way that it is safe to play a collision sport on. Isn’t about time for the NFL to not be complicit in confusing the public and players on this issue since it is their own doctors who produced the evidence?

  41. pedey01 says: Mar 12, 2010 4:06 PM

    The President of the Company with the most to lose by the findings in the report said:
    “I don’t put a lot of weight in it and think it is unfortunate it is coming out this way at this time,”
    No shit you don’t.

  42. 1dayforBills says: Mar 12, 2010 4:25 PM

    The NFL doesn’t care, since u can run faster on these carpets, it’s more exciting… More revenue, no need to worry about player saftey.
    I’ve never liked turf, grass is wonderful, and much more forgiving than the carpet. I’m all for every NFL team to play outside on natural grass.

  43. yem123 says: Mar 12, 2010 4:29 PM

    All I can say is that I played football for 10 years, through college, and in 10 years of game and practice experience, I can tell you grass = the safest.

  44. .VoxVeritas says: Mar 12, 2010 5:15 PM

    “Field turf has injuries such as turf toe that are ONLY associated with turf and DO not take place on grass.”
    If your uninformed thesis didn’t get you failed, it’s because you went to a shitty school.
    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/11070453
    ALAMEDA, Calif. — For weeks, Darren McFadden was slowed by a turf toe injury on his right foot. Now that he has that almost under control, he’s dealing with a turf toe injury on his other foot.
    McFadden initially hurt his right big toe on a 50-yard run in the third quarter against Kansas City on Sept. 14. He’s been limited by that injury ever since, frequently missing practices and not being able to be the game-breaking back the Raiders expected when they drafted him fourth overall.
    Then in the first quarter against the New York Jets on Oct. 19, McFadden hurt his left big toe. He played through the injury that game, but was inactive against Baltimore last Sunday. He missed practice again Wednesday, watching with a boot on his left foot.
    Needless to say, both games were played on grass.

  45. .VoxVeritas says: Mar 12, 2010 5:54 PM

    “Specifically, perhaps the issue isn’t the turf per se, but the fact that the turf allows/encourages athletes to run faster and jump higher, which places more forces on the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. and thus places those individuals at an increased risk of injury.”
    Another issue is that the improved traction of synthetic turf makes a lot of players choose to play in glorified tennis shoes. Most turf toe injuries can likely be traced to shoes that don’t fit well and don’t provide enough support.

  46. jalibb says: Oct 21, 2013 10:09 PM

    Not that difficult really, the game must be slowed down to mitigate knee and head injuries. Since the turf wont be removed for practical / financial reasons, just add a more frictionless particle to the turf formula in whatever ratio works, be it 1/10, 1/100 etc until the reduction in traction is achieved.

    The particle, why flubber of course.

    Jesus, do I have to solve everything?

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