Regis: NFL injury rise needs to be talked about
Jon-David Regis | Wednesday, October 25, 2023
With the NFL season up and running, we have already entered the middle third of the season. So far, teams have been doing well, and the season is looking good. The only things hurting the league this year are injuries. The 2023 NFL season is at an all-time high for injuries in the history of the league. The NFL is looking for answers for all these injuries. They thought it was the way people tackled other players, so they changed the rules on tackling. They thought their helmets weren’t secure enough, so the NFL went out of its way to reconstruct their helmets. Still, players are getting injured week in and week out. The answer to this is the turf in these NFL stadiums.
Players across the league have been calling for NFL stadiums to be switched from artificial turf to grass. Seventeen teams in the NFL have stadiums with artificial turf, while the other 15 teams have natural grass. Transitioning all stadium fields to high-quality, natural grass surfaces is the simplest choice the NFL can make. The players have shown a strong preference for it, and data indicates that grass is safer than artificial turf.
Grass versus turf has been a topic of debate in the NFL for the past few years, but this year the debate has gotten more heated. It started with four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers tearing his left Achilles tendon in his debut with the New York Jets. Last year, Buffalo Bills pass rusher Von Miller tore his ACL, an incident that he blames on artificial turf. Less than 48 hours after Rodgers’ injury, the players union repeated its call for grass. Players understand that the shift would cost money, but they claim that the greater cost will be the loss of the NFL’s finest players due to avoidable injuries. Sterling Shepard of the New York Giants tore his Achilles tendon late in 2021 at MetLife Stadium, then tore his ACL the next season on the same field. This year, a new artificial surface was put in, and Shepard said it may be a touch softer, but turf is turf.
That is just the beginning of injuries in the league. Big-name players have lost their seasons due to injuries. Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury (torn MCL) during a Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith twisted his knee in another game against the Giants. Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers injured his knee and is on injured reserve. Star tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs headed to the locker room before the end of the first half of a game against the Vikings after sustaining a possible foot or ankle injury. J.K. Dobbins of the Ravens suffered a torn ACL last year, and this year he injured his Achilles. Star Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson injured his shoulder along with an AC joint sprain and will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Bills linebacker Matt Milano fractured his leg and suffered a season-ending knee injury in a loss to the Jaguars in London.
Injuries after injuries keep happening in our league. That list was just the beginning. There are still many more NFL players who are injured, but the NFL has the chance to prevent these injuries. Players in the league have been calling for stadiums to switch to natural grass to make it safer for them. If they are the ones risking their lives playing week in and week out, shouldn’t the players have a say? That is a question the higher-ups of the league need to address quickly before we get more injuries and they get even worse.
All statistics used in this article are through Week 5 of the NFL season.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.