The Green Bay Packers have lost too many players to the turf monster, and Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell wants the NFL to take action.
There’s a widespread problem in the NFL, one that has plagued the league for years.
Because of it, careers are shortened, teams are ruined, and years of hard work fall apart on the field.
And it’s all because NFL owners continue to give into the turf monster.
This isn’t about preventing a true multipurpose arena, as Allegiant Stadium and State Farm Stadium have demonstrated that even retractable all-grass fields are possible. And for outdoor stadiums like Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, there’s really no excuse for using turf.
And for billionaire NFL owners and investors, the price tag for a natural-grass field has proven to be worth it, time and time again. Unless the intention of turf is to lay waste to enemies with unnecessary, avoidable injuries.
Packers linebacker De’Vondre Campbell has seen enough. After seeing teammate Rashan Gary suffer a season-ending injury at Ford Field, Campbell called upon NFL owners to collectively invest in grass fields across the league.
“The turf is like concrete — it literally has no give when you plant,” Campbell explained for those who have no idea how devastating turf surfaces can be for athletes.
Packers LB De’Vondre Campbell joins chorus of voices calling to ban turf in NFL
The argument against turf is an easy one: it’s harmful to athletes, period.
Unfortunately, despite the athlete voices and evidence speaking out against turf, there are still 16 NFL teams across 14 stadiums that continue to use artificial turf, per Fox’s Brandon Ingram. Because teams in Los Angeles and New York City share stadiums, the turf surfaces at SoFi Stadium and MetLife Stadium endanger even more players every week, despite the Rams and Giants each being valued at over $5 billion.
Former Packers center JC Tretter, who now serves as the President of the NFLPA, wrote at length explaining why turf is dangerous and what the NFL can do to prevent harm.
"“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.”"
Fans from every NFL fanbase can call upon a moment in recent history when one of their favorite players went down with a senseless, season-ending injury. Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson, a leading NFL corner who built an impressive resume with the New England Patriots, hardly saw the field with his new team due to a turn-related injury.
Then, there’s new evidence that reiterates Campbell’s note about turf’s lacking give: impacts that cause concussions are “significantly greater” on turf compared to grass.
Not only should people at every level in an NFL organization, including coaches, general managers and owners, be motivated to invest in grass, but there is no barrier to making grass possible everywhere, Tretter argues.
"“Cold-climate teams like the Packers, Steelers and Browns successfully maintain natural grass fields. Indoor stadiums shouldn’t be a barrier for grass fields, either. The Cardinals and Raiders have figured out how to provide a natural grass playing surface indoors. Agronomically, natural grass field surfaces are possible everywhere.”"
With the data provided about how turf unnecessarily endangers athletes, it’s unjust for any organization to allow players to step onto a field that could give them a worse concussion or an avoidable ACL tear. As it stands, turf is a workplace hazard, one that the billionaire owners are tasked with removing from their stadiums.
As Campbell says, it’s time to take some of the billions NFL owners make off players and invest in a playing environment that won’t hurt them.