J.C. Tretter: Injury data from 2022 season makes clear that grass fields are safer

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NFL owners glossed over the differences between grass and artificial playing surfaces at this week’s league meeting. But the NFL Players Association is renewing its call for grass fields.

In fact, NFLPA President J.C. Tretter says that the data from 2022 makes it clearer than ever that grass is safer than artificial turf.

“We got interesting data, I don’t think it’s been put out there, I think it will be out there in the coming weeks,” Tretter told Pat McAfee. “The data this past year show . . . there is a very large gap between the two surfaces. They quickly glanced over that at the league meetings and didn’t really dive into those details this past week, but there is a large difference between grass and turf. The players are very clear what they want.”

Tretter noted that multiple NFL stadiums that use artificial turf will install temporary grass fields when they host World Cup matches in 2026.

“When the World Cup comes to town, all these owners roll out the green carpet for all these soccer teams to play on grass at their stadiums, and then roll it back out to put the turf back down for their employees to play on,” Tretter said.

Tretter said that when the NFL briefly had an increase in grass injuries in 2021, owners used that increase in injuries on grass to suggest that grass was no safer than artificial turf. But Tretter said in 2022, the injury rates diverged, and the difference between injuries on artificial turf and on grass is as big as it has ever been.

“There’s a significant difference in injury rate on turf as on grass,” Tretter said.

32 responses to “J.C. Tretter: Injury data from 2022 season makes clear that grass fields are safer

  1. The League of Doom is all about accountability and data…until it conflicts with their goals. Let’s see how Roger does an ole’ with questions on this. Get the crowbar out fellas and pry into your wallets to take care of your investments and put grass fields in.

  2. “We got interesting data, I don’t think it’s been put out there, I think it will be out there in the coming weeks”
    This seems entirely to be posturing and hoping to get the crowd on their side without actually telling them anything.

  3. That State Farm Stadium grass field during the Super Bowl was a mess. Players were sliding all over it. You can’t tell me that’s safer.

  4. Expect immediate pushback on this with actual data. If the difference were significant he would have given the data

  5. That is a thin slice of the data… 2022.

    If it is true, why not say, ‘over the last 10 years…’ or something like that.

  6. Well wait a minute, he says the league used data in 2021 that suggested grass was showing grass injuries to be just as prevalent.

    But now he’s using 2022 data to say turf is worse.

    Why don’t we use 10 years of data, you wouldn’t judge a players career based on one year.

  7. “That State Farm Stadium grass field during the Super Bowl was a mess. Players were sliding all over it. You can’t tell me that’s safer.”

    You’re right but it is also an atypical situation… partial dome in the middle of a freaking desert-city… how many stadiums are trying to rock natural grass like that? There are going to be such circumstances that warrant if not necessitate artificial turf.

  8. alwaysfindaway(-to-blame-Roger)

    This isn’t about Roger Goodell you Dweeb. Go tell the municipalities and tax payers who paid Billions for state of the art stadiums with roofs so they can be used year round that you have to “have grass” in this stadiums instead. It’s one thing to roll out grass for a single event. Another one altogether to do it every week.
    C’mon … Use your head and quit the “Roger bad, all is his fault cuz he’s greedy” BS. It’s so dang childish.

  9. It JC polls his Union, about 98% of the rank and file will vote to play every game at Allegiant Stadium.

  10. The CBA shares 48% of all NFL revenues with the players union. And when the players realize the their salaries will drop by $6,543 each because the owners spent more NFL revenue money on grass in their stadiums, they’ll be screaming and whining…

  11. Well what was the injury rate ? Left out the most important part of the story.

  12. Why are they looking at this year by year? The data should be for at least 5 years. 10 would be better. That’s how you find the truth.

  13. And yet the NFL says there is no correlation between injuries between grass and artificial turf BS the NFL is one of the greediest organizations on the planet . They only do things for their own benefit like wanting more stupid games during the week

  14. All around the world, the other professional football – the one that calls their field a pitch – plays on real grass. Recent research conducted by FIFA for the World Cup suggests that great strides have taken place over the last several years that allows real grass surfaces to work in indoor stadiums. Besides the engineering marvel that is Allegiant Stadium in the Vegas desert. It’s out of my lane to talk about botanical science but clever people are beavering away creating robust strains of living sports turf.

  15. The World Cup soccer games are going to be played in June. I suspect it’s easier to maintain a grass surface during peak growing season than in December and January.

    Yes the owners are rich, but even they can’t buy more hours of sunshine in winter or pay sod to take root in 48 hours.

    I think it would be great if all stadiums have traditional grass surfaces, just like they did in the old days. I’m sure all fans (and players) would enjoy games played on loose sod, in soupy mud, or on green-painted dirt. Weren’t the games so much better when you couldn’t read the jersey numbers?

  16. You guys always talking about these players are overpaid and greedy, and you have absolutely no sympathy for them when they want what they feel their value is. If the money isn’t going to the players, it’s going right in the owners pocket! Why are you always siding with them? They have the general public so fooled with this salary cap mumbo jumbo and to top it off; they don’t give a crap about the players. Who cares about the injury data concerning grass vs turf? How about how it feels when you go crashing to the ground? Now, they want to play football every night of the week. And that, my clueless PFTers, is the epitome of greed. They take the players money and have them playing in horrible working conditions. That turf in the SB was an abomination! And for all you haters of athletes getting max dollars, do you ever complain about Tom Cruise commanding 40 mil a movie?

  17. I would imagine grass is safer… but it’s also very statistically unlikely the numbers would flip flop for a whole year if the difference was that great. Maybe instead of saying the numbers exist, they should just say what they are.

  18. I know the SB was played on a grass field, but the NFL couldn’t pay the extra $$ to get it right?

  19. “Six former Phillies died from the same brain cancer. We tested the Vet’s turf and found dangerous chemicals.”

  20. Natural grass and its required fertilization is not without its dangers. I sometimes wonder if there is a connection between grass fertilizers and things like autism in players’ children. Dan Marino and Ernie Els come to mind. I forget his name, but there was a golfer who always put his golf tee in his mouth. He wound up with mouth cancer.

  21. “That State Farm Stadium grass field during the Super Bowl was a mess. Players were sliding all over it. You can’t tell me that’s safer.’

    I can and it is. Poorly maintained, slippery grass fields don’t make for good football, but they do not impose a significant danger because it’s the “give” that largely is responsible for making grass fields safer than turf.

    Turf is a stickier, higher-traction surface and that’s where the risk of injury is enhanced. As an example, when a running back plants their lead foot with a lot of force to make a very fast change in direction, a grass field will tear and give on that hard plant. The result is that some of that kinetic energy generated by the player is taken off of his joints (the primary joint taking the force being the knee) and distributes it to the field.

    With artificial turf, there’s less slip which increases the amount of force the knee has to deal with. In some instances, the knee can’t handle that force and typically the ACL is the first ligament to go.

    It’s why newer artificial surfaces have more “give” and are less sticky. Older, more astroturf-like surfaces had no give with high friction/grip. It made for fast football but tons of season (and oft-career) ending injuries. While newer surfaces are better, they’re still stickier and faster than grass.

    The bottom line is that while some “give” to the field may result in slower and sometimes sloppier play, that give rarely creates injuries.

  22. You can compile or analyze data to paint any picture you want. The same goes for surveys or studies. Better traction on certain turfs may lead to more speed to power than others, but that’s not the turf, it’s the result of stronger players with bodies that are wound too tight. It’s like saying wet turf is safer because the athletes can’t cut as fast and create as much power. Maybe we should water down all fields.

  23. BonnieReadsAndWrites says:
    April 1, 2023 at 5:27 am
    That State Farm Stadium grass field during the Super Bowl was a mess. Players were sliding all over it. You can’t tell me that’s safer.

    And it being slicker, the grass tearing lose or coming out at the roots is exactly what makes it safer! When a player makes a hard cut on grass the grass is the first thing to give, but when a player makes a hard cut on artificial turf their foot sticks to the surface and they end up with sprained ankles or worse, season ending knee injuries. Also with the cost of insurance now days it should cut down on those insurance costs which would offset a lot of the cost of installation and upkeep.

  24. Well as long as we are showing any data. I say that artificial grass is much safer than grass. Let’s just make up stuff without fact. I guess it’s the new United States.

  25. Are there really people who think turf is as safe as grass? If you’ve ever played on turf, you can feel the difference. Especially if you’re wearing some good turf cleats. Your faster, because you get way better traction. Better traction is the reason for the higher percentage of injuries. Simple enough, at least I think so. I’ve experienced it, so I have that knowledge.

  26. Turf has been around for a long time. If it’s dangerous, where has the NFLPA been hiding all these years? Why is this suddenly a thing? Didn’t the player’s union know about this before? What do they do? Do they work for the league or for the players?

  27. Grass has always been safer for players than the easier to maintain turf. Slipping and sliding more 9n grass is a great example. When the grass is moist or wet players will slip and slide more but then players cleats get snagged on turf more likely dry surfaces that’s when ankles to groins get twisted, strained and ripped !!

  28. Just don’t spray paint parts of the field to make it look nicer prior to the game. Like this past superbowl. I can completely understand why certain teams have artificial turf. I can’t imagine it’s easy to keep a natural grass field in the winter.

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