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J.C. Tretter: Injury data from 2022 season makes clear that grass fields are safer

Mike Florio and Chris Simms break down how artificial turf can be just as dangerous as certain plays and analyze at what point the league must look to change playing surfaces instead of changing rules.

NFL owners glossed over the differences between grass and artificial playing surfaces at this week’s league meeting. But the NFL Players Association is renewing its call for grass fields.

In fact, NFLPA President J.C. Tretter says that the data from 2022 makes it clearer than ever that grass is safer than artificial turf.

“We got interesting data, I don’t think it’s been put out there, I think it will be out there in the coming weeks,” Tretter told Pat McAfee. “The data this past year show . . . there is a very large gap between the two surfaces. They quickly glanced over that at the league meetings and didn’t really dive into those details this past week, but there is a large difference between grass and turf. The players are very clear what they want.”

Tretter noted that multiple NFL stadiums that use artificial turf will install temporary grass fields when they host World Cup matches in 2026.

“When the World Cup comes to town, all these owners roll out the green carpet for all these soccer teams to play on grass at their stadiums, and then roll it back out to put the turf back down for their employees to play on,” Tretter said.

Tretter said that when the NFL briefly had an increase in grass injuries in 2021, owners used that increase in injuries on grass to suggest that grass was no safer than artificial turf. But Tretter said in 2022, the injury rates diverged, and the difference between injuries on artificial turf and on grass is as big as it has ever been.

“There’s a significant difference in injury rate on turf as on grass,” Tretter said.