NFL Players Association Requests Natural Grass Fields Following Aaron Rodgers’ Season-Ending Injury

NFL Players Association Requests Natural Grass Fields Following Aaron Rodgers’ Season-Ending Injury


The NFL Players Association has called on the league to switch all of its field surfaces to natural grass, suggesting natural grass is “simply safer” than artificial turf, after quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury on Monday during his debut for the New York Jets, which features artificial turf in its home stadium.

New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered an Achilles injury on Monday.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Key Facts

Lloyd Howell, executive director for the NFLPA, said in a statement Wednesday that NFL players “overwhelmingly” prefer natural grass fields and that data suggests they are “simply safer than artificial turf.”

Issues surrounding artificial turf at stadiums have “been near the top of the players’ list,” according to Howell, who said he has previously raised concerns with the NFL.

Howell noted that the NFLPA—the labor union representing NFL players—is aware that a shift to natural grass fields would be “an investment,” while adding “there is a bigger cost” if “we keep losing our best players to unnecessary injuries.”

Howell also questioned a decision by NFL teams to change their fields to natural grass for the 2026 World Cup and for exhibition games, while “inferior artificial surfaces are acceptable for our own players.”

Crucial Quote

“Moving all stadium fields to high-quality natural grass surfaces is the easiest decision the NFL can make,” Howell said.


Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested last year that “league stats don’t see issues” with artificial turf compared to natural grass, adding: “We don’t see issues. No facts bear that out.”

Big Number

50%. That’s how many NFL teams play their home games on artificial turf fields, according to NBC Sports.


A study published in 2019 by the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that playing on artificial turf resulted in a 16% increase in lower-extremity injuries per play compared to natural grass. The study included all lower-extremity injuries reported for regular season games between 2012 and 2016. Another study published last year by the University of Hawaii suggested that athletes playing on artificial turf may experience a greater risk of suffering a concussion than on grass. The NFLPA—citing injury data collected from 2012 to 2018—released its own report, which indicated players were 28% more likely to suffer non-contact lower-extremity injuries on turf than on grass.

Key Background

Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon on the fourth play between the Jets and the Buffalo Bills on Monday, Jets head coach Robert Saleh confirmed on Tuesday. The injury comes five months after Rodgers—the NFL’s fourth-highest-paid player—announced plans to join the franchise after restructuring his contract to receive a guaranteed $75 million in his first two seasons. The injury sparked renewed calls for the NFL to switch to natural grass, including criticism by Rodgers’ former teammate David Bakhtiari and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Darius Slay. Saleh said he did not believe that the turf played a role in Rodgers’ injury, according to ESPN, while Rodgers—who said he preferred playing on grass—previously suggested the turf at MetLife Stadium was “one of the best surfaces I’ve seen that’s artificial.”

Further Reading

Aaron Rodgers—NFL’s 4th Highest-Paid Player—Tore Achilles In Jets Debut, Will Miss Entire Season (Forbes)

Football Concussions—The NFL’s Worst Fear—May Be More Likely On Fake Grass Fields, Study Suggests (Forbes)

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