Players want grass in all venues. Various NFL stadiums use artificial turf. The debate has not gotten much traction, yet.
As the U.S.-hosted 2026 World Cup approaches and as more people realize that stadiums like AT&T in Dallas and SoFi in L.A. will convert to grass fields for the soccer competition, more will ask why, if that can be done for soccer, it can’t be done for football?
When push comes to shove, sources connected to The Shield will point out (as they already are) that the World Cup surfaces will be a hybrid of grass and synthetic turf.
Fine, then why don’t the stadiums that currently use turf only permanently use the FIFA-required grass/synthetic hybrid for football, too?
Players who want all grass would surely settle for a grass/fake blend than all fake. Why not just keep the World Cup surface at AT&T Stadium and at SoFi Stadium?
The broader point is that, although owners like Jerry Jones and Stan Kroenke won’t change surfaces because football players prefer grass, they’ll bend over backward when the soccer authority responsible for the World Cup demands grass, or at least a grass/turf hybrid.
The recent feature on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel hammers the point home. Grass is far safer than turf. Football players want to play on grass. Why in the hell won’t NFL owners provide them with grass, or at least a grass/turf hybrid?
As one source within the NFL bubble who believes in grass fields recently told PFT, the NFL will warp and twist statistics in order to preserve the status quo. The league doesn’t want to force owners to incur the expense of installing and maintaining grass — especially in venues where a significant re-engineering of the building would be necessary to permit it.
And so the NFL will continue to ignore the noise and hold the line and force players to deal with the hazards of artificial turf, even as more and more evidence surfaces regarding the relative safety, both as to injuries and overall wear and tear, of playing on a softer, more forgiving surface.
Put simply, it’s a problem the NFL won’t solve because the NFL refuses to acknowledge that there’s even a problem. The willingness of some owners to swap out turf-only fields for the World Cup will hopefully get so many people to recognize the problem that the league will have no choice but to finally concede that a problem exists.