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Source: 2022 injury data for turf fields was “awful”

Mike Florio and Chris Simms analyze if anything will come from the NFLPA’s findings that injury rates were significantly higher on artificial turf than grass during the 2022 season.

NFL players want all playing surfaces to be grass, not turf. The NFL prefers to let teams play on artificial surfaces, if they so choose.

The debate has intensified in recent months. A Tuesday night feature on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel addressed the situation, focusing on how the use of turf has trickled down to the high-school level, causing an “epidemic” of injuries.

While not quite an epidemic yet at the NFL level, a league source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the 2022 injury data for turf fields was “awful.”

At this week’s ownership meetings in Minneapolis, NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills acknowledged that the “numbers weren’t good,” without getting into specifics. None of the owners pressed for specifics, we’re told.

We’ve asked the NFL for the data, but the league has not yet responded to two separate emails on the issue.

As the source put it, the relevant representatives of the league office are “experts at confusing the 26 owners who don’t pay attention.” The source added that, on matters of turf vs. grass, the league will gloss over the fundamental differences between injury risk on real grass and injury risk on fake grass.

The situation is gaining momentum, especially with many noticing the willingness of owners of stadiums with artificial turf to find a way to get grass installed for World Cup matches, since grass is a prerequisite to hosting the games.

More and more people think grass should be a prerequisite for hosting NFL games.

Obviously, it all comes down to money. Despite the many billions the league now generates, there’s a degree of cheapness that keeps teams from embracing a better and safer surface. And there’s also a shortsightedness at play, given that they’re failing to protect their investments in the players who are exposed to less-than-ideal working conditions.