Source: 2022 injury data for turf fields was “awful”

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NFL players want all playing surfaces to be grass, not turf. The NFL prefers to let teams play on artificial surfaces, if they so choose.

The debate has intensified in recent months. A Tuesday night feature on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel addressed the situation, focusing on how the use of turf has trickled down to the high-school level, causing an “epidemic” of injuries.

While not quite an epidemic yet at the NFL level, a league source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the 2022 injury data for turf fields was “awful.”

At this week’s ownership meetings in Minneapolis, NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills acknowledged that the “numbers weren’t good,” without getting into specifics. None of the owners pressed for specifics, we’re told.

We’ve asked the NFL for the data, but the league has not yet responded to two separate emails on the issue.

As the source put it, the relevant representatives of the league office are “experts at confusing the 26 owners who don’t pay attention.” The source added that, on matters of turf vs. grass, the league will gloss over the fundamental differences between injury risk on real grass and injury risk on fake grass.

The situation is gaining momentum, especially with many noticing the willingness of owners of stadiums with artificial turf to find a way to get grass installed for World Cup matches, since grass is a prerequisite to hosting the games.

More and more people think grass should be a prerequisite for hosting NFL games.

Obviously, it all comes down to money. Despite the many billions the league now generates, there’s a degree of cheapness that keeps teams from embracing a better and safer surface. And there’s also a shortsightedness at play, given that they’re failing to protect their investments in the players who are exposed to less-than-ideal working conditions.

42 responses to “Source: 2022 injury data for turf fields was “awful”

  1. Still waiting on the PSI data from like 6 years ago. If Roger can’t spin it, it ain’t seeing the light of day.

  2. Greed. Remember, average playing career (minus QBs) is 3.5 years. Anything that helps keep this low, owners will support.

  3. “Awful” is not quantitative, it’s a subjective description. If this leak was worth their salt they would have factual data.

  4. Everyone should use Grass! It just makes sense and if it’s kept properly the injuries would be few and far between from the surface cause.

  5. dont worry the owners will be more than happy to get grass surfaces..and be even nore happy to pass the cost onto YOU!!!

  6. Grass over turf goes against climate activists who may view the water used to grow the grass as a waste of natural resources.

  7. Grass is better in good weather, worse in rain and snow. But grass is better for all players and should 100% be the only allowed surface.

  8. Win-win for the owners – artificial surface is obviously lower cost and injured players are lower cost as well. Can’t sign that big contract when you only played 6 games.

  9. The Corrupt NFL and Vegas control the turf. They take after s0r0s and the APAC region portion that controls the free world at the moment.

  10. You can’t build billion dollar stadiums that are used only 10 or so days a year. Concerts, college sports, high school sports, monster trucks, WWE, etc place wear and tear on real grass. Also – not all games are played in warm weather venues and it is difficult to maintain grass.

    Players are faster on turf – can make more cuts, etc – and a faster game is more entertaining to watch

    And if I am being honest – the league has been around for over 100 years. The average player’s career is 3.3 years, which sadly means that the players are easily replaceable.

    From the league’s perspective, there is no reason to make a change……

  11. Atlanta claims via their “research” they can only sustain grass for 30 days max, juuusssst enough to accomodate WC26. Amazing! This research is, as always, dedicated to the science of max profit. And this is the answer to the great mystery of why the league allows stylish plastics to foul their fanciful new billion dollar temples. Greed. Pure and simple.

  12. It has to do with stadium in question.

    I am a saints fan and yes they tried to lay fresh sod once in a preseason game years ago back when farve was still the Packers QB.

    I have to say it didn’t go too well. The logos and the paint wouldn’t dry.

    Infact they had a call out to anyone with an air boat to come drag it to the dome..

    So then the air boats caused a great amount of wind and everything dried. Now they needed to get the the engine exhaust out of the building.

    It was a crap show. The turf worked ok didn’t have a great root system but it did work. I was at that game.

    Some teams don’t have a stadium that works for a roll out field like others have.

    Yeah it is about money. It is about taxpayers not buying new stadiums when what they have is paid for and works well.

    If the injuries are about grip of turf then use shoes that don’t grip as much instead of rape another city for a new stadium.

  13. After all of the Eagles crying about the Super Bowl turf, I say keep the fake stuff. Sheesh.

  14. Yeah yeah, we care deeply about player safety. BTW, let’s flex some more Thursday night games and make them play on 4 days rest.

  15. But why are we still waiting for the injury stats on grass vs turf? I would think the NLFPA would be shouting the disparity #’s from the rooftops…but I only hear crickets.

  16. It amazes me that nobody has developed an artificial surface that mimics real grass.

  17. Just watched the 1986 AFC Championship game Broncos-Browns in Cleveland. The Drive game. 100 yards of frozen brown dirt. Now THAT was a field

  18. I remember the Baltimore Colts playing on a dirt field without a blade of grass. I’m sure that field was safer than turf.

  19. If grass is king why do all the players complain about Soldier field?

  20. “Environment” is a critically important variable for any TEAM objective.

  21. Grass over turf goes against climate activists who may view the water used to grow the grass as a waste of natural resources.

    3:1 ratio of thumbs down:up says to me, “FOOTBALL IS LIFE!”

  22. Never thought it was a big deal until it affected my favorite team. Turf cost the Bills Von Miller and arguably the Super Bowl. Bills had 4th highest pass rush rate in the NFL with Miller and declined to 24th without him. The Bills knew the importance of having a top-end pass rush once the playoffs begin and that is why they got him. Without Von Miller, they couldn’t even sniff the likes of Joe Burrow. Meanwhile, the Chiefs had a guy by the name of Chris Jones that harassed Burrow and left him SOL in his bid for a game winning drive into the Super Bowl. Yep, stuff like that can impact an entire season. I know injuries are a “part of the game” but it’s extremely irritating to think season ending ACL injuries can generally be avoided by NOT playing on turf.

  23. Going soft during the off-season and fewer padded practices in training camp have led to more injuries as well…but we’re not allowed to see that data or talk about it either…am I right…?

    And of course turf causes more injuries…Footbal was meant to be played on grass…in the natural outdoor elements…

  24. Greedy Roger thinks turf doesn’t cause concussions so why bother looking into solutions when he’s more interested in seek out new revenue streams.

  25. How can an owner with a turf field look their players in the eyes?! Greed.

  26. The players are merely grist for the mill. The owners know that many people consider a huge majority of the players to be interchangeable. A player suffers an injury, is carried off the field, another takes his place. The game goes on without any regard for the human cost.

    Nothing will change unless the majority of fans start to realize that the players are human beings instead of merely replaceable parts in a machine.

  27. I agree with the sentiment that players need to wear different shoes on turf. Go back to wearing the nubby turf shoes (ie. Barry Sanders) that teams used to wear on AstroTurf and get rid of the cleats that they wear now. The issue with current cleats is they get caught in the seams and then a player (ie.OBJ) can tear his knee.

  28. As an “old guy” at 46, I miss the nostalgia of grass stained and muddy uniforms. On the other hand, you get stadiums like in Pittsburgh where both Pitt and the Steelers play, and by November, the field is painted mud, or loose sod that comes up in chunks during the game. That’s not good either. With all that money, they should be able to figure it out.

  29. In an effort to make the game more safe, the league is willing to significantly alter the game with rule changes making the game less violent. If the data suggests that grass fields are by far the safest option, I don’t see how the NFL can genuinely claim that safety is a priority. It is simply a consideration. As is their profits. Let’s see what the real priority is.

  30. Only way it changes is if concussions are a greater risk. NFL only changes if there is a financial impact coming down the road.

    Regardless- flag football is so much better on turf. That seems like the way we are going- so turf is here to stay.

  31. If the players really want to fix this situation they would give a priority to teams that have grass surfaces when they are choosing which team to go to in free agency. Once owners realize they are at a competitive disadvantage by having artificial turf they would start to change.

  32. This one is a no brainier. Should absolutely, positively be Mandatory to have Grass on every field across the country. Unfortunately, common sense does not rule, player ( even young kids) safety does not matter ……only $$$$ does

  33. Another part of this that I don’t see mentioned is that NFL fields mow the grass incredibly short – I assume this is to speed up the game. When I played in HS the grass was probably 3-4″ long. It provided some cushion. Now it looks like they play on a putting green.

    Play on grass, and don’t mow it so short. It will also hold better and it won’t tear up as easily.

  34. The teams will all build domes before going back to grass. The colleges did the same thing. ND and U of Texas play on that awful looking plastic field turf now. What say you Chris Simms?? Artificial turf makes it easier to host concerts, monster trucks and graduations. $$$ over safety again.

  35. Fill in the blanks and you have the general formula to explain what’s wrong with the world right now:

    Despite the many billions [insert industry] now generates, there’s a degree of cheapness that keeps [leaders] from embracing a better [method/supply/process]. And there’s also a shortsightedness at play, given that they’re failing to protect their long-term investments in the [employees/markets] who are exposed to less-than-ideal [working conditions/product offers/services].

  36. Grass is way better than turf, but there are plenty of crummy,natural grass fields in the NFL..Fed Ex is painted dirt in December. You have to invest and care for it.State Farm field in Phoenix is natural,but was inexplicably painted for the Super Bowl..resulting in a “slip an slide”

  37. “Obviously, it all comes down to money. Despite the many billions the league now generates, there’s a degree of cheapness that keeps teams from embracing a better and safer surface. And there’s also a shortsightedness at play, given that they’re failing to protect their investments in the players who are exposed to less-than-ideal working conditions.”

    This is spot on. Officiating is in the same boat.

  38. So they will change a major aspect of the game (i.e the kick off fair catch) for player safety, but something that will cost the owners money. Replacement and actual ground crew, nope that is to far… Really? Wtf

  39. Ask the same NFL execs and reps who stressed that the kickoff return data showed a health risk that they just couldn’t sit back and do nothing about. Apparently data and health risks means nothing on the turf issue though… hmm…indeed

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