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Julian Edelman tees off on NFL for turf fields

After a source revealed 2022 injury data for turf fields was “awful,” Mike Florio and Chris Simms break down the tangible differences between artificial turf and grass at every level of the game.

Former NFL receiver Julian Edelman has weighed in on the grass vs. turf debate. Then again, from the perspective of the men who play the game, it’s not much of a debate.

Players strongly prefer grass to turf. If not unanimously.

“I tore my ACL on a shitty turf in Detroit which was absolutely ridiculous,” Edelman said in an appearance on No Chill with Gilbert Arenas on Fubo Sports.. “I broke my foot on a shitty turf field in New York. This is a multi-billion dollar corporation and we can’t get grass?”

He explained the difference between the two surfaces.

“With turf there is nowhere for the energy to disperse,” Edelman said. “So, when you cut, everything is going straight into your knee and ankle. When you’re a younger player its awesome because you can cheat a cut. You can cut off your inside foot and still make the cut, whereas on grass you’ll slip. But there is no give. When you get to about 27 or 28, you go out and you have to practice on a turf field and your back locks up, your knees get hurt for the next three days, your ankles are sore for three days. There’s just nowhere for the energy to go, but through your body. And these are full grown men who are cutting on this.”

So why won’t the NFL switch to grass fields?

“It’s money,” Edelman said. “You can put a turf field in that $1.5 million for the year. If you have grass, you have to water it, upkeep it, redo it. There is a lot of maintenance. You have to have a field crew that is always on. We’re counting pennies when it comes to what they are actually making and you would think that the league would want to protect their investments in the players. The horses that race in the race, you’ve got to take care of the horse.”

Amen to that. As we’ve said many times, even if the owners don’t think of the players as people (and plenty likely don’t), they should still be protecting their investments. Those with turf surfaces refuse to see it that way.

But they still cling to notions of player safety, regarding plays like the kickoff.

“It’s kind of a bullshit rule that they put in with the whole [kickoff] fair catch thing because it’s a scapegoat,” Edelman said. “We talk about player safety but we don’t have mandatory grass, which is absolute bullshit. Guys are tearing their shit . . . feet, ankles, knees, non-contact [injuries] all the time because of these turfs and we haven’t changed that.”

Of course, when required to ditch turf for grass -- like when it’s needed to lure a FIFA World Cup event -- the owners won’t think twice.

“It’s crazy,” Edelman said. “Whenever there is an international soccer game, if you have a turf stadium they will bring in grass for the international teams to play because they have a rule for their players that they have to play on grass. But we can’t do it for our league and our investment in players.”

More and more players, current and former, need to keep making these points. The chorus needs to become a din that forces the teams that don’t have grass to spend the money necessary to switch to it.

Until every stadium has grass, no one connected to the sport can credibly claim that the NFL truly cares about player health and safety.