NFL athletes have begun to voice their opinions in numbers for the league to finally make grass fields mandatory across all stadiums.
The outcry comes after a number of athletes have fallen victim to injuries that seemingly could have been prevented and were largely heightened by artificial turf surfaces.
“I mean, I think it’s pretty simple. The numbers say that grass is healthier for the players, and I want to play on the best surface that will keep me healthy,” said Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Players have shared their opinions on artificial turf for some time now, but the injury that renewed the spark in the conversation was that of New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers had a storied offseason, eventually deciding to leave for a new home in New York after playing 18 seasons for the Green Bay Packers since 2005.
Just four plays into Rodgers’ first game as a Jet, the quarterback went on to tear his Achilles tendon as a result of his foot getting trapped under him on the unforgiving turf during a sack.
Currently, 14 stadiums in the NFL feature turf fields – a staggering number considering there are 32 teams in the league.
Calling to replace all turf fields with grass would surely put a dent in some teams’ finances, but the long-term benefits of maintaining healthier rosters might well be worth it.
Outside of injuries caused by sliding on the turf or getting rolled up on, turf is known to cause a less serious, but more nagging injury known as “turf toe” that has derailed some promising careers as a lingering issue.
Currently, athletes Terry McLaurin and Amon-Ra St. Brown are dealing with the injury – both of whom are wide receivers and rely on sharp cuts to make their routes crisp.
“I’m a firm believer in grass. In the position I play, with the movements I make, I would prefer to play on grass any day,” said San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
It seems the consensus is in, and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is rolling with the voice of their athletes as the movement picks up momentum.
The NFLPA has already written a press release persuading organizations to make the switch to grass in order to protect the players.
Personally, I think that grass fields make more sense at the highest level of competition.
With teams and players being so valuable, the cost to switch to grass and protect your most valuable assets – your players – seems like a no-brainer decision that I expect the league to make in the near future.
However, it will be interesting to see which teams fight back against these measures as even U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis currently features an artificial turf surface that would have to be completely changed after just being opened in 2016.