Zach Wilson is once again the starting quarterback for the New York Jets. Just after four plays of Aaron Rodgers debut with the Jets, it was all ripped away. With 11:32 remaining in the first quarter, Rodgers tried to elude pass rusher Leonard Floyd, who was running free off of the edge. Floyd made the tackle, bringing Rodgers down by his hips. Rodgers’ left leg got jammed up underneath him while he was going down, resulting in a full tear of his left Achilles tendon. While the injury is devastating to the Jets, and even more to the NFL who have the Jets scheduled for five more primetime games, there’s a bigger story that comes out of this.
Football has been played on artificial turf since 1969, when the Philadelphia Eagles were the first team to put it inside their stadium. It is designed to be much less maintenance for the owners to take care of resulting in them being able to save money on field repairs over time. The downside to artificial turf is what it has done to numerous players, including some of the leagues best such as Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr. and now former teammate of Rodgers, David Bakhtiari. These stars claim that the turf is less forgiving, causing more injuries to pile up throughout the year. This poses the question of whether or not there is some truth to what they’re saying.
The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) put out a statement earlier this year that for every 100 plays in a football game, players on turf are 45% more likely to suffer an injury than someone who plays on grass with a rate of 35%. While those numbers may not seem like much, with every single play you have a 137% higher chance of getting injured on turf than you do on grass. The number of non-contact injuries is where the NFL has a real problem.
Per the NFLPA website, data supports that since 2012, for non contact injuries, “players have a 32% higher chance of injuring their knee and a staggering 69% higher rate of non-contact foot/ankle injuries on turf compared to grass.” As of a few days ago, the NFLPA have put in requests to the NFL to change all playing surfaces to grass for the foreseeable future. In light of what happened this past Monday, it feels like the NFL may be stuck between a rock and a hard place. They may have to force their owners to change their playing surface to prevent this from happening again. Unfortunately, a big injury to one of the league’s biggest stars is what it may have taken for the NFL to actually do something about this issue rather than trying to prevent it before it happened. If they don’t want their television ratings to suffer or risk losing any more star players that connect with all NFL fans, it may be time to put some fresh grass in and protect what makes the NFL so great – the players.