Yet another NFL stadium is moving away from natural grass
The debate between playing on natural turf or artificial turf is ongoing for the NFL, and now another stadium is replacing its turf with turf.
In a study conducted by the NFL between 2012 and 2018, the league found that players have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf.
According to data obtained by ESPN NFL reporter Kevin Seifert, injury rates on non-contact lower extremity injuries are statistically the same on natural surfaces as on artificial turf. The data dates back to 2018. The 2019 season featured the biggest difference between non-contract injuries on turf and grass; however, the gap closed in the following two seasons, 2020 and 2021. The 2021 season saw almost no difference between the two.
Despite the statistics, in the 2022 season, NFL players still spoke up, hoping to make their voices heard in favor of replacing artificial surfaces with grass. They even used the hashtag “#SaferFields” to further spread the movement.
In addition to lower extremity injuries, turf can also contribute to concussions. A recent study from the University of Hawaii looked at the link between concussions and type of terrain. First noted by Derek Saul of Forbes, the study titled Impact Force Differences on Natural Grass Versus Synthetic Turf Football Fields found that the impact was “significantly greater” on turf than on natural grass.
Grass provides a surface that acts as a softer cushion while providing a more gradual deceleration upon contact with the ground. The faster a head decelerates, the more force it experiences. Concussions have been a talking point for the NFL lately, primarily due to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered multiple head injuries throughout the 2022 season. natural grass has proven to be safer for players, why do some stadiums still use grass?
Titans stadium leaves the grass
The Tennesse Titans recently announced that they are replacing the turf on the field at Nissan Stadium – their home stadium – with Matrix Helix turf ahead of the 2023 season. The decision was based on player/coach injury concerns and for better adapt to the climate of Nashiville.
With the ongoing grass versus turf debate, with many voices in the NFL siding with grass, Tennessee’s decision to install turf is bound to be controversial; however, research conducted by the Titans has determined that turf is the best and safest plan to move forward.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel spoke about the decision:
“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our players. We had a lot of problems after a certain part of the season. Grass is hard to grow. It gets slick. We let’s lay new turf we try to lay new turf and it’s smooth you see some guys slipping these are real things that i have witnessed during my time here our grass surface is not not at the level of some of the other grass surfaces. Early in the year, summer, camp, early in the season, I see it’s very consistent. But as the season progresses and the weather changes , there is a noticeable difference in the performance of the terrain.
Nissan Stadium will become the first NFL stadium to feature synthetic turf system technology incorporating organic infill.
Reed Seaton, President and CEO of Hellas Construction Inc., spoke about the new turf technology:
It doesn’t matter where an athlete puts a cleat in that turf, it’s the same all over the field from game to game. A properly constructed synthetic turf pitch with organic infill and cushion is a superior system to a poor turf pitch. Synthetic turf technology is now able to mimic a well maintained grass pitch.
Of the 30 NFL stadiums, 16 use natural grass, while the other 14 use turf. Before the 2023 season, Nissan Stadium will join the other 14 grass stadiums.