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Report: NFL data shows number of non-contact injuries were almost the same on grass, turf in 2021

Michael Holley and Vincent Goodwill discuss the Rooney Rule, how it does and doesn't relate to the Colts hiring Jeff Saturday as interim head coach, and the disappointment in the commitment to Black coaches from the NFL.

NFL players have been vocal in their support of grass playing fields and their opposition to artificial turf. Cooper Kupp, George Kittle and De’Vondre Campbell are among those who recently have expressed a desire to play every game on a natural playing surface after seeing season-ending injuries to teammates on artificial playing surfaces.

On his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones dismissed the idea of every stadium going to natural grass, citing “league stats.”

Kevin Seifert of ESPN reviewed the internal NFL data Jones referenced.

Per Seifert, the NFL and NFLPA contract a third-party company called IQVIA to compile and analyze data on every injury during every season. Their joint Surfaces Committee uses the data to compare injuries in each of the league’s 30 stadiums.

The committee presented findings to owners during last month’s meeting in New York.

The data showed that as recently as 2019 that non-contact injuries were “notably” higher on artificial turf fields compared to grass, per Seifert. But the difference between the surfaces began narrowing in 2020, and last season, the numbers were “almost the same.”

The incident rate for artificial turf in 2021 was.042 per 100 and .041 per 100 for grass surfaces.

That ratio “replicated” during the 2022 preseason, Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, told Seifert.

“The takeaway from all of this data is that the discussion between synthetic surfaces and natural grass surfaces isn’t really the argument,” Miller said. “What we’re trying to do is decrease injuries on both. As a general matter, looking at synthetic versus natural doesn’t really provide us the information we need to try to drive those injury rates down.”

Stadiums with artificial surfaces replace their turf every 2-3 years, per Miller.