It’s not the roaring crowd of the 12s or the potential for another Beast Quake to erupt at any time that makes CenturyLink Field one of the most dangerous stadiums in the NFL.
According to a recent study by University of Oklahoma graduate student Erin Pšajd, it’s the turf. Pšajd reveals that football stadiums that feature synthetic turf are more likely to lead to non-contact, lower-limb injuries as opposed to natural turf. She also found these injuries were more likely to occur earlier in the game.
Synthetic turf has higher rates of non-contact lower limb injuries than natural turf across most play types, per @erinpsajdl's research. Also interesting most of these injuries come earlier in the game regardless of playing surface #HANIC pic.twitter.com/jK1mgabXXo— Keegan Abdoo (@KeeganAbdoo) May 22, 2020
She isn’t the only one who has linked turf type to odds of injury. Zach Binney of Football Outsiders listed Seattle as the most dangerous stadium with field turf. Baltimore, which has multiple surfaces, and Indianapolis which also has field turf had the highest chance of injury risks.
The Seahawks NFC rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, have grass and are at about a 20 percent decrease in odds of injury.
My new NFL injury article has SO MUCH INFO, let's go bit-by-bit:— Zachary Binney, PhD (@zbinney_NFLinj) October 4, 2018
-Excluding Mexico City, 7 most dangerous (and 14 of worst 15) all use artificial turf
-Worst grass stadium is CAR
-Seattle isn't dangerous b/c the Legion of Boom hurt peoplehttps://t.co/DnIUXNRmM6 pic.twitter.com/y1UTfwTkSL
The Seahawks had several injuries during the 2019 season which occurred during the first drive of the game, but not many of them occured on home turf. Rashaad Penny suffered an ACL injury during the first drive of Seattle’s 28-12 loss to the Rams at Los Angeles and Justin Britt also went down with an ACL tear in the opening drive in Week 8 against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
The injury bug also depleted the Seahawks offensive line, who saw a bevy of injuries to guards Mike Iupati, Ethan Pocic, and Jamarco Jones in the latter half of the season.
So, what does this all mean? It’s difficult to say how much weight these studies carry, as they are far and few between. But a change in turf could be important to evaluate, especially if further studies tie synthetic surfaces to more injuries.
For now, the Seahawks are scheduled to play 10 of their 16 games on synthetic turf in 2020.
Be sure to check out the latest Talkin' Seahawks Podcast with host Joe Fann and legendary running back Curt Warner.