JR SportBrief: NFL needs to ditch artificial turf

The NFLPA, citing injury data, has requested that the league implement natural grass in every stadium; JR SportBrief couldn’t agree more

October 02, 2020 - 11:23 am
Jimmy Garoppolo 49ers

USA Today Images


The NFLPA has requested that the league implement natural grass in every NFL stadium, arguing that grass provides a much lower injury risk relative to artificial surfaces.

JR SportBrief couldn’t agree more.

“When the NFL does this, when the NFL generates so much money, when the teams have so much money, don’t skimp on the product on the field,” JR said on CBS Sports Radio. “What are we going to do? . . . Go back to leather helmets? Come on. Anybody that runs, anybody who has an opportunity to get out there, anybody who’s involved in physical activity will tell you you want to play on a softer surface.”

The numbers bear that out. According to NFL injury reports from 2012 to 2018, players have a 28 percent higher rate of non-contact lower-extremity injuries on turf.

“If you’re a runner, you don’t necessarily want to go and run on concrete,” JR said. “If you play basketball, you don’t want to play on that hard concrete outside. It tears your legs up. And so, the NFL shouldn’t be any different. Switch everything up. Allow these guys to ply their trade on actual grass. Come on, there should be more of an uprising. We should have more noise than Raheem Mostert saying that this stinks. We should have more noise than the 49ers.”

Fifteen teams – almost half of the league – play their home games on artificial turf. Players have a 32 percent higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on turf, as well as a 69 percent higher rate of non-contact foot and ankle injuries.

“This has to be the last year,” JR said. “We’ve seen this before. Take the turf up. Get the field up. Do it in an off week when you have the time. This isn’t necessary when you’re going out there and playing with folks’ careers. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp. Everything else about every single professional sports league is first-class, but we want to send these players out to play in subpar conditions? Not gonna cut it. 

“So if you thought COVID was the only issue that NFL players were going to have to deal with this year, we knew injuries were going to come up,” JR continued. “Folks weren’t going to be prepared to play, guys were going to be injured – this is part of this year. You don’t have preparation, your bodies aren’t hardened, guys are going to get hurt. . . . The NFL can do better.”