As Aaron Rodgers’ injury resurfaces grass vs. turf debate, NFL’s field issue proves no walk in the park


A big football star goes down, and suddenly, the safety of artificial turf is questioned.
Aaron Rodgers, the future hall of fame quarterback, left his longtime team, the Green Bay Packers, and headed north to be at the helm for the New York Jets. A few plays into the first game, Rodgers was sacked and quickly went down after he stood up. He tore his Achilles tendon. And now, he is out for the season.
And that’s where all the turf talk comes in.
Artificial turf (or Astroturf) has only been in use simply for convenience. It can take a beating, multiple sports can be played on it and maintenance can be easier too. But it has never been the best surface for athletes of any sport as it can lead to multiple physical injuries. Now, about 36 hours later, the NFL and the NFL Players Union (NFLPA) are making turf a hot topic, and the demand for grass is on the table.
“Moving all stadium fields to high-quality natural grass surfaces is the easiest decision the NFL can make,” NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell said in a statement Wednesday. “The players overwhelmingly prefer it and the data is clear that grass is simply safer than artificial turf. It is an issue that has been near the top of the players’ list during my team visits and one I have raised with the NFL.”
In a media conference call Tuesday, CBS Sports reported, Jeff Miller, the executive vice president for health and safety innovation for the NFL, said the league and the union are working toward a “solution.”
“We work very closely with the (NFL) Players Association on surface research,” Miller said on the call. “We share all the injury information. They have all the same data we have. … We have stadiums with natural grass where there’s a lower injury rate than synthetic surfaces, and we have synthetic surfaces where the injury rate is lower. … Our effort is to try to drive down those rates on both surfaces. Hopefully, in the next couple years, we’ll see some progress in those spaces.”
Fun Fact: The term “Astroturf” comes from baseball’s Houston Astros. When the famous Astrodome was built it was hard to maintain real grass in the facility, so a new artificial surface was created. It would later become a fixture in stadiums across the country that housed both MLB and NFL teams.
A little less than half of NFL stadiums have grass fields, and as it turns out MetLife Stadium (home of both the Jets and New York Giants) reportedly has a lot of complaints regarding its artificial turf safety.
“Grass. That’s my answer. We want grass,” Jets running back Breece Hall told Dianna Russini of The Athletic.
According to ESPN, new turf was installed at MetLife Stadium this year — a type described as “softer” and “more forgiving” — nonetheless, one of the game’s biggest stars is down and out. However, it has not been determined if the turf caused the injury.
“That was kind of a forcible [injury],” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Tuesday to ESPN. “I think that was trauma-induced. I do know the players prefer grass, and there’s a lot invested in those young men.”


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