NFLPA president JC Tretter is calling on NFL franchises to change all of their field surfaces to natural grass.
In an open letter shared Wednesday on the NFLPA's website, Tretter, who is also the starting center on the Cleveland Browns, wrote that "The unforgiving nature of artificial turf compounds the grind on the body we already bear from playing a contact sport.
"NFL clubs should proactively change all field surfaces to natural grass."
Tretter cited injury data collected from 2012 to 2018 that found that players have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf compared with grass. He found that of those non-contact injuries, players have a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on turf and a 69% higher rate of non-contact foot and ankle injuries on turf compared with grass.
"This data is clear, so everyone involved with our sport should be similarly motivated to make this switch," Tretter wrote. "For players, we can be stronger advocates for ourselves by continuing to demand safer standards. For coaches and general managers, building a successful team is much easier with a healthy roster. For NFL owners, any decision shown to protect their most important investments—the players—should be a no-brainer."
13 NFL stadiums currently use artificial turf.
Tretter's comments come as 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan recently criticized the field turf at MetLife Stadium, citing that the turf played a role in multiple injuries his team suffered in Week 2 against the Jets.
“I know our players talked about it the entire game, just how sticky the turf was, and I think that was the first time people played on it, I think,” Shanahan said after his team's Week 2 victory. “But yeah, it was something our guys were concerned about right away. And the results definitely made that a lot stronger."
The 49ers suffered a rash of injuries in Week 2 and played in MetLife Stadium in Week 3 when they faced the Giants.
Following Shanahan's comments, the NFL said in a statement that "The independent field inspector completed an inspection on September 12 and certified that the field was in compliance with all applicable NFL policies, including the Mandatory Practices for Artificial Surfaces. In addition, within 72 hours of each home game, clubs must certify that their fields are in compliance with applicable NFL policy, and that occurred in this instance."