MetLife Stadium turf injuries: Why NFL players complain about Jets, Giants playing surface

Artificial turf has been a frequent target of criticism from NFL players, but no turf has come under fire quite like the turf at MetLife Stadium.

The Giants have lost a jarring number of players to serious injuries at MetLife Stadium in recent years, while opposing players such as Nick Bosa have seen their share of season-ending injuries at the venue.

How many injuries can actually be attributed to the turf itself is not certain. Many were quick to blame the MetLife Stadium turf when Aaron Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles just four plays into his Jets career, but replay showed the injury was more likely the result of the way Rodgers’ leg was extended while he was being sacked. Still, NFL players have made it clear: They prefer to play on grass.

MORE: Revisiting Giants’ decision to bench Eli Manning for Geno Smith

Later in 2023, Dolphins pass-rusher Jaelan Phillips suffered an apparent non-contact Achilles injury at MetLife Stadium, reigniting concerns about the turf.

Here’s a closer look at MetLife Stadium’s turf injuries and how the venue is trying to remedy the problem.

MetLife Stadium turf injuries

MetLife Stadium’s playing surface has come under fire since a new turf was installed in 2020. The criticism reached a fever pitch in 2020, when 49ers defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas both suffered torn ACLs in the same game.

After the game, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan voiced his concerns.

“I know our players talked about it the entire game, just how sticky the turf was. I think that was the first time people played on it. That was something our guys were concerned about right away and the result definitely made that a lot stronger,” Shanahan said. 

QB Jimmy Garoppolo also suffered a sprained ankle in the game, while RB Raheem Mostert went down with a torn MCL.

49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead took to social media after the game to call the turf “trash” and ask the NFL to step in. 

MORE: Why do the Jets and Giants share a stadium?

Since 2020, here is just a partial list of notable injuries suffered on the MetLife Stadium turf. 

  • Nick Bosa (ACL tear)
  • Solomon Thomas (ACL tear)
  • Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle sprain)
  • Raheem Mostert (MCL tear)
  • Sterling Shepard (Achilles tear)
  • Sterling Shepard (ACL tear)
  • Wan’Dale Robinson (ACL tear)
  • Blake Martinez (Achilles tear)
  • Shane Lemieux (patellar tendon tear)
  • Jabrill Peppers (ACL tear)
  • Kyle Fuller (ACL tear)
  • Aaron Rodgers (Achilles tear)
  • Al Woods (Achilles tear)
  • Jaelan Phillips (TBD)

Was every major injury directly attributable to the MetLife Stadium turf? Of course not. It’s impossible to tell exactly which injuries may have been affected by the turf and which were not. Still, the amount of season-ending injuries suffered at MetLife Stadium certainly feels disproportionate in the eyes of many players.

Packers OT David Bakhtiari lashed out at the NFL for using artificial turf when Rodgers, a former longtime teammate, went down in September, and while turf may not have been the primary factor leading to the injury, players quickly backed Bakhtiari’s sentiment.

It’s worth noting MetLife Stadium is one of two NFL venues that is home to two teams, so it also has a game nearly every week and naturally will have a higher raw total of injuries as a result.

Why does turf cause more injuries?

The NFL Players Association released findings in April showing that injuries occurred more frequently on artificial turf than they did on grass. So why does turf have this effect?

With turf, there is simply less give than grass. Turf is a harder playing surface, which forces the body to absorb the force of any play. Grass is a softer surface and will more frequently give way before a leg absorbs enough force to cause injury. 

Fans will often see divots on grass fields, which is an example of the playing surface giving way. Artificial turf cannot replicate that kind of divot, and NFL players have rallied behind the idea of playing on grass to avoid more injuries.

MORE: Why Geno Smith left Giants before Seahawks fame

MetLife Stadium new turf

MetLife Stadium responded to concerns about its playing surface and installed new turf for the 2023 season. While it’s still a step short of grass, the turf received generally positive reviews in the preseason.

“There’s obviously been a lot of conversation around grass field compared to turf field, but I feel like the other night, it’s been one of the best surfaces I’ve seen that’s artificial,” Rodgers told reporters in August while reiterating that he still preferred grass.

Rodgers, of course, would go down with a torn Achilles just minutes into his Jets debut, but he wasn’t among the players blaming the playing surface. Since that fateful night, results have been encouraging for all teams who have played on MetLife Stadium’s turf.

The new surface, named FieldTurf Core, is intended to be softer and have more give for players’ legs. Rodgers’ injury, however it happened, made it clear that the debate between grass and turf will rage on, with NFL players decidedly favoring grass. 

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *