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Pete Carroll becomes latest to rip NFL over poor playing surfaces

Andrew Buller-Russ

The NFL has a problem on its hands in relation to player safety. Only, instead of this focus being on head injuries, we instead turn to the turf monsters. Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who’s coming up on his 168th NFL win, recently became the latest to speak out on the matter.

Specifically, Carroll and several others within the football community, from current players to coaches, and trainers, all want to see the NFL make a permanent switch from having some artificial turf playing surfaces to having all 32 franchises playing on natural grass.

The reason behind their suggestion is not random. It’s due to the various non-contact joint, and ligament injuries players frequently suffer when playing on artificial turf. Recent examples include Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson who dislocated his kneecap on a routine play. Jackson is out for the rest of the season.

But he’s not alone. Several other players, whether it’s this season or the last, are working their way back on the long road to recovery after a seemingly random, non-predictable, or avoidable injury has occurred. Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL in front of millions of spectators on the SoFi Stadium turf in the state-of-the-art football arena that just debuted in 2020 and is still unable to play football.

Unfortunately, despite spending roughly $6 billion on construction costs, the crew didn’t have the foresight to build the stadium using natural grass. While it may be the newest NFL stadium that’s been built, SoFi Stadium isn’t the only arena choosing to use turf.

A total of 14/30 NFL stadiums still use turf. Some locations have tried to insist their climate doesn’t allow for natural grass fields to be used during the football season, whether it’s the air being too cold in the north, or being too dry in the south, yet places like Lambeau Field in Green Bay and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas have found a way.

With how much money NFL owners make, getting the entire league on the same page when it comes to grass instead of turf shouldn’t be much of an issue at all.

When it comes to support, coach Carroll is on board.

“I think we definitely need to look at this really seriously in the offseason again. We’ve got to do what’s right, and we’ve got to do what’s safest for the players and we’ve got to make those choices. I would pound on the drum for that. I know that there’s numbers and there’s studies. You’ve got to figure out where the study comes from and who’s paying for it. We’ve got to do the right thing, but we definitely need to keep looking at it, because every now and then, it just feels like something is up, too many guys going down when they’re not even touching anybody. The turfs are way better than they used to be, but we’ve just got to see. I know I’m getting in trouble here, so I’ll shut up.”

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll on re-evaluating NFL playing surfaces

Related: George Kittle, several others petition NFL to switch to grass after Odell Beckham Jr.’s ACL tear

NFLPA prez agrees with Pete Carroll on going from turf to grass

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

While he’s no longer on an NFL team, former Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter is still the president of the NFL Players Association.

In 2020, Tretter penned an 813-word article about how natural grass should be the only NFL playing surface used today. In a piece titled ‘Only natural grass can level the NFL’s playing field,’ Tretter wrote:

“Specifically, players have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf. Of those non-contact injuries, players have a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on turf and a staggering 69% higher rate of non-contact foot/ankle injuries on turf compared to grass.”

NFLPA president J.C. Tretter on why playing on grass makes more sense

This data was compiled from 2012-2018, but there’s a good chance the rates haven’t improved. If the NFL is serious about player safety, it’s about time they start proving it, in every way possible.

Related: 2022 NFL Power Rankings: Reviewing all 32 teams after Week 7