Numerous players, along with the NFL Players Association, and multiple coaches have called for universal grass playing surfaces. No owner has joined the choir.
Now, one owner whose billion-dollar football cathedral uses the fake stuff has begun singing a different hymn.
“Our league stats don’t see issues with the type of surface that we have as opposed to natural grass,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, via Jon Machota of TheAthletic.com. “We don’t see issues. No facts bear that out.”
Jerry’s “facts” undoubtedly come from statistics, which always can be massaged and characterized to support a given perspective. Regardless of whatever stats Jones would cite to support his position, the NFLPA has backed up its position with numbers.
“The data supports the anecdotes you’ll hear from me and other players: artificial turf is significantly harder on the body than grass,” NFLPA president JC Tretter wrote in 2020. “Based on NFL injury data collected from 2012 to 2018, not only was the contact injury rate for lower extremities higher during practices and games held on artificial turf, NFL players consistently experienced a much higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries on turf compared to natural surfaces. Specifically, players have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf. Of those non-contact injuries, players have a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on turf and a staggering 69% higher rate of non-contact foot/ankle injuries on turf compared to grass.”
There are the facts, Jerry. But those facts don’t matter when the real facts are how much it would cost to maintain a proper grass field, and more importantly to protect it when other events occur at the stadium. Some new stadiums have a system for rolling the grass field out of the building. Jerry World doesn’t, and it would be virtually impossible (or at least ridiculously expensive) to retrofit AT&T Stadium or other fixed- or retractable-roof structures that currently don’t have a removable grass field.
Jones is basically stuck on this one. Instead of admitting that the players and coaches who want grass are right and that he’ll spend whatever it takes to make the playing surface as safe as he can be, Jones will simply say (as he did) that it’s fine as it is.
Even if it isn’t.