NFL Players Association President JC Tretter called on NFL teams to replace all field surfaces with natural grass to reduce the risk of injury to players.
Tretter, the starting center for the Cleveland Browns, wrote in a newsletter that players have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower limb injuries when playing on artificial grass than on grass. Tretter, citing NFL injury data collected from 2012 to 2018, added that these rates were even higher for non-contact knee injuries (32%) and non-contact leg and ankle injuries (69%). grass compared to grass.
“The data stands out,” Tretter said Wednesday in a video conference with the media. “These numbers are staggering, the difference in injury rate between grass and natural grass. It̵
“Until we can find a way to make synthetic grass react and react like natural grass, there is too much danger of continuing to play and expect different results.”
Currently, 13 NFL stadiums use artificial turf.
San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and his players have expressed concern about the turf at MetLife Stadium, where the Niners recently lost a number of players, including quarterback Jimmy Garopolo and defender Nick Bossa, to injuries. MetLife is home to the Jets and Giants.
Treter said an “engineering commission” was tasked with examining the fields. Tretter also advocated for a better surface test mode, noting that the Clegg Impact Tester currently used by the league measures surface hardness, “but not for performance and safety.”
He said teams should not use air-conditioned or indoor stadiums as an excuse not to use grass, given that several cold-weather teams, including the Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, use grass, and the Arizona Cardinals and Las The Vegas Raiders have natural grass despite playing indoors.
“The safety of the players will always be a priority for us and for the union,” said Treter. “… This is something from now on that we need to make a priority.”