NFL needs to ‘seriously’ look into grass-turf debate

RENTON, Wash. — Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and safety Quandre Diggs said Wednesday they would like to see close scrutiny of whether NFL stadiums should use all-natural grass.

The ongoing conversation about the safety of the game on artificial turf versus natural turf was revived after Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf and Los Angeles Chargers cornerback JC Jackson suffered knee injuries during Sunday’s game at SoFi Stadium, both during non-contact games.

SoFi Stadium, home of the Chargers and the Rams, uses an artificial surface.

“I think we definitely need to take a serious look at that in the off-season,” Carroll said when asked about the turf debate. “It’s been a discussion before. We have to do the right thing, and we have to do what’s safest for the players, and we have to make those decisions. I would bang the drum for that.”

Fourteen of the NFL’s 30 stadiums use an artificial surface, including the Seahawks’ Lumen Field. In September 2020, NFL Players Association President JC Tretter urged all teams to use grass pitches to reduce the risk of injury to players. Tretter cited NFL injury data from 2012 through 2018 showing a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries on artificial turf compared to grass.

“I know there are numbers and studies,” Carroll said. “They have to find out who did the study and who is paying for it. There’s a lot of things we need to figure out here. We have to do the right thing but we definitely have to keep it up When you look at it because every now and then it feels like something’s wrong, too many guys go down when they’re not even touching anyone. So we’ll see. The pitches are a lot better than they used to be and things like that, but we’ll just have to see.”

Jackson will miss the rest of the season after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee on Sunday.

Metcalf suffered a much less serious injury to his left patellar tendon, which does not require surgery. Carroll said Metcalf was feeling “a little better” on Wednesday and was at the Seahawks’ morning walk-through, but he would not be attending their afternoon practice session. Metcalf’s status for Sunday’s home game against the New York Giants remains up in the air.

Tretter’s call for all teams to use natural grass surfaces for 2020 came after San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan complained about the artificial turf at MetLife Stadium, where the Niners’ standout defenseman Nick Bosa recently played against the New York Jets suffered a knee injury.

Diggs cited those injuries and Sunday’s at SoFi Stadium while expressing his distaste for artificial turf, which is firmer and less forgiving than grass.

“You see that and you just wonder why we can’t have natural grass everywhere,” Diggs said. “I love playing in San Francisco and things like that where there’s weed and you just go out and just play. Hopefully we’ll research this and see what we can do to make things better.”

Diggs said turf is “so much better,” but acknowledged that players also suffer injuries on turf, including his own dislocated ankle and fractured fibula last season at the Arizona Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium. Diggs said there are differences between the pitches in different stadiums, describing SoFi Stadium as smooth and Lumen Field as “fine” but “a little stickier than others”. He said his foot got stuck in the turf in a missed tackle at a home game against the Cardinals two weeks ago.

“I know lawn maintenance is difficult, but at the end of the day we have to do what is best for this billion-dollar industry and I think the players have a huge part to play in that,” Diggs said. “So maybe we can take some ideas from the players.” NFL needs to ‘seriously’ look into grass-turf debate

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