NFL answers NFLPA, insisting injury rates are same on synthetic surfaces vs. grass

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The NFL released a statement Saturday after an NFL Players Association PR campaign against artificial turf surfaces, specifically the “slit-film surfaces” that seven teams play their home games on.

“As the NFLPA knows from the meeting of our Joint Field Surface Safety & Performance Committee earlier this month, there was no difference between the number of injuries on synthetic surfaces versus grass,” Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, said in a statement. “While slit-film surfaces, one type of synthetic material, have 2-3 more injuries per year, most of them are ankle sprains — a low-burden injury — whereas slit film also sees a lower rate of fewer high-burden ACL injuries compared to other synthetic fields. As a result, the league and NFLPA’s joint experts did not recommend any changes to surfaces at the meeting but agreed more study is needed.”

The NFL and NFLPA contract a third-party company called IQVIA to compile and analyze data on every injury during every season. Their joint Surfaces Committee uses the data to compare injuries in each of the league’s 30 stadiums.

The committee presented findings to owners during last month’s meeting in New York.

It focused on non-contact injuries, which as recently as 2019, were notably higher on artificial turf fields. The difference between the surfaces began narrowing in 2020, and last season, the numbers were nearly identical.

The incident rate for artificial turf in 2021 was.042 per 100 and .041 per 100 for grass surfaces.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose team plays on turf, dismissed players’ concerns, citing the committee’s findings.

The NFLPA responded, accusing the “NFL PR machine [of going] into overdrive to spin a more favorable narrative to what the union and players know is a problem.”

NFLPA president JC Tretter, on the NFLPA’s website, requested: (1) the immediate replacement and ban of all slit-film turf; (2) no longer allowing games to be played on fields with “clear visual abnormalities”; (3) the raising of the field standards and testing the safety and performance of all surfaces; (4) the clearing the excess people and dangerous equipment from the sidelines.

The Giants, Jets, Lions, Vikings, Saints, Colts and Bengals play on slit-film turf. The NFLPA claims those surfaces have “higher in-game injury rates” compared to all other surfaces for non-contact injuries, missed time injuries, lower extremity injuries and foot/ankle injuries.

NFL players made a united, organized effort to win the PR campaign Saturday, hoping to force the league to play all its games entirely on grass.

“We know the data,” Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz tweeted. “Our union and the league agree that we should eliminate slit-film turf. The NFL isn’t willing to mandate this change, so we as players are going to keep talking about this issue until it changes.”

29 responses to “NFL answers NFLPA, insisting injury rates are same on synthetic surfaces vs. grass

  1. The rate of injuries that was ‘nearly identical was actually 2.5% lower on natural grass last year, 15% lower in 2021, 25% lower in 2020, and 15% lower on natural grass in 2019. What that amounts to is that natural grass is 15% safer in general but statistical noise makes it 25% safer some years and ‘nearly identical’ other years. Natural grass is always safer, the average is 15%, and three years of random fluctuation are not a statistically significant decreasing trend. The NFL is playing games with numbers when its obvious to anyone looking at the stats that injuries on natural grass are lower every single year.

  2. I totally agree that natural grass is better than any form of turf. But I also find it funny how there are always stories about how bad the grass is at “insert stadium here” (usually in Chicago) where the kickers and other players can’t get footing.

  3. The only metrics the NFL understands is related to money.

    If on average, it’s cheaper to maintain grass in 3 year increments vs the same parameters for turf, then they would make the change.

  4. Coupon Email says:
    November 12, 2022 at 7:16 pm
    The only metrics the NFL understands is related to money.

    If on average, it’s cheaper to maintain grass in 3 year increments vs the same parameters for turf, then they would make the change.

    20Rate This

    —————-

    This is the correct answer. The NFL lies and the fanboy minions will lap it up.

  5. If its such a big concern of players why do they sign contracts with teams that ensure they play 8+ games a year on it? Who cares, for their paycheck they should play on anything the team owner wants!

  6. patsfaninda6ix says:
    November 12, 2022 at 7:13 pm
    I totally agree that natural grass is better than any form of turf. But I also find it funny how there are always stories about how bad the grass is at “insert stadium here” (usually in Chicago) where the kickers and other players can’t get footing.

    —-

    Like the painted mud field at Heinz.

  7. All football games should be played outdoors in the elements, on pure natural grass.
    Football at its finest. 😉

  8. Football. Outdoors on grass. Period. Second best indoors on Grass. Figure out how to do it. Least interesting is indoors on artificial grass. Fix this.

  9. The price for grass upkeep is probably more than artificial turf replacement and daily upkeep over time. Thing is, turf may be cheaper in the long run, but if you have ever played on grass, the cleat to field traction is less than on turf. Which means something has to unfortunately give sometimes, you can tear up grass by sliding around which is better on the human body. If your feet get hung up on turf, your knees and ankles will give before the turf which leads to more joint injuries. This is pretty simple stuff NFL, kinda like cte and concussions. You will never elevate concussions unless you remove the sudden stops or heads bouncing off the ground. The NFL will never change how it does business because change equals money loss or not playing tackle football at all. Once again, money is and always has been more important than player safety.

  10. Yeah sure it’s safer… we’ll just take the NFL’s word for it because their such an upstanding organization & would never possibly fudge data to benefit protecting the shield or it’s cronies!

  11. same guys who said concussions do not affect players health and lomg term wellbeing

  12. Its ridiculous all games aren’t on grass. Even teams with domes could have a state of the art artificial lighting system installed for under $1 million.

  13. It’s unfortunate yet telling that there is always “but they make millions” guy in threads like this.

  14. If it only lowers injuries by 1%, there is only one reason not to honor the requests of players… greed.

  15. For $10 million a year I’d play on a cinder field. For you kids out there until the early 80s almost all the tracks for track and field were a cinder surface. Which is basically crushed remnants a burned coal. If he ever wiped out on it You would get some nice strawberries and cinders embedded into your skin.

  16. All new stadiums should have the ability to slide the field in and out. The technology is there in many stadiums around the world. The only reason not to do it is to save some money. Jerry Jones would rather spend the cash on some extra luxury boxes than a state of the art field.

  17. Most NFL stadiums are at least partially funded if not outright owned by the local government.
    It is not cost efficient to have these large multi-billion dollar structures (most of which are in premium locations) be used only 10 times per year.
    Grass fields, especially in Northern cities, can’t support high use (100 days/year) like turf.
    No community wants to use taxpayer money to fund these venues and not be able hold other revenue generating events (college and youth football, soccer, conferences and conventions, concerts, etc.)
    Field turf is not grass, but it is much better than the old astro-turf.
    There is even variability in grass fields.
    Those in northern cities (where grass goes dormant and stops growing in October) are horrible. Especially those that also host college teams or other events.
    Players no the risks involved in football and turf fields have been part of the game for over 50 years and will continue to be used.
    If one type is significantly better/safer than another then change will occur as it did from astro-turf to Field-turf.
    But artificial surfaces are not going away.

  18. Trust in the science where there are no solutions just more guessing and someone trying to look smarter than others. Common sense isn’t dead but definitely about to flat line

  19. Houston tried natural grass in NRG using what basically were large trays, each holding a section of the field. The seams were a real problem with several players blaming the injuries on the seams. They eventually went to fueld turf.

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