More and more players speak out against the NFL allowing turf fields to continue.

This 2022-2023 football season sees a large increase in players publicly speaking out against turf fields and how the NFL says that they care about the safety of their players and yet do nothing about these fields.

A column released on Nov. 12 by NFL Players Association president J.C. Tretter started this most recent wave of outcry. In the column, “NFL Player Health & Safety Lies Beneath the Surface,” Tretter lays out the changes that the NFL should be making if it cares about the safety of the players and workers as much as it says it does. 

“Week after week, we have heard players sound off on the need to improve our fields, too often after a player suffers an injury,” Trette said at the beginning of the column.

The first change he calls for is the replacement and ban of slit film turf. Tretter narrows in on this specific type of turf because of its make-up. Instead of individual blades of fake turf, slit film turf has “openings in the pieces, creating a potential risk of cleats catching in the material,” according to NBC Sports.

Tretter explains that slit turf fields have a statistically higher risk of lower extremity injuries that occur during games. Currently, in the NFL, seven teams have slit turf fields: the New York Giants, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals

In regards to this specific data, Tretter says that the NFL and its experts agree with this data but refused to make changes. According to another article by NBC Sports, the NFL stated that they agree with the statistics of increased injuries but that it is 2-3 more injuries per year and they are low burden injuries such as ankle sprains. They also said that slit film turf fields actually have less high-burden injuries such as ACL tears, compared to some of the other types of synthetic fields

However, NBC Sports cited a third-party evaluator, Biocore, whose analysis says that the statistic is actually 2-3 more injuries per stadium that has slit turf, per year. 

Tretter also points out other unsatisfactory safety aspects, including fields with inadequate maintenance which still pass inspections and the need for less cluttered sidelines for players to have proper space to perform. Tretter calls on the NFL to “take the actionable steps to fix the problems our union has identified, especially those issues you actually agree with.”

Tretter’s column sparked more players to speak out against turf fields. Two players that have been talking about this issue for much longer than just this season are 49ers George Kittle and Nick Bosa. NBC Sports points out that both have witnessed and suffered injuries on turf fields themselves and took to Twitter on Nov. 12 to voice their increasing complaints. 

Kittle also talked about his reasoning behind his perspective of the need to play on natural grass instead of turf. He spoke to a NBC Sports reporter after a game where the 49ers suffered multiple player injuries “against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium in Week 5.” 

The star tight-end points out that the NBA does not have to play on different wood paneling and hockey has the same kind of ice every game.

“The thing that just confuses me is if you’re not going to mandate grass, then why aren’t turf fields the exact same turf so guys get used to playing on the same turf everywhere? But every field has a different turf,” Kittle said to NBC Sports

Other former and current NFL players who spoke out against turf included Alex Mack, Cooper Kupp, David Bakhtiari, Joel Bitonio and Darius Slayton. Additionally, Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback, retweeted both Kittle and Kupp’s messages. 

It is uncertain if the NFL will respond to this renewed outcry and if there will be any steps toward field changes in the future.