The NFL Players Association wrote a letter calling for the “immediate replacement and ban” of slit-film turf fields throughout the league.
The league uses three types of turf: slit-firm, dual fiber, and monofilament, but it’s the slit-firm surface that has proven players to miss more time due to injuries, which happen at an increased rate on it as well.
“Advocating for safer working conditions is a core job of our union, and there are few greater examples of this than raising the standards of the fields we practice and play on,” NFLPA President JC Tretter wrote on Saturday.
“Week after week, we have heard players sound off on the need to improve our fields, too often after a player suffers an injury. This week, we have seen the NFL PR machine go into overdrive to spin a more favorable narrative to what the union and players know is a problem.
“If the NFL is serious about their claims that they make data-based decisions and that they care about player safety, then we have some actionable items for them.”
Six stadiums (and seven teams) use slit-firm turf. Tretter wrote that the NFL has acknowledged that slit-film fields are more detrimental to players’ health than other surfaces. However, Tretter says that “the NFL has not only refused to mandate this change immediately, but they have also refused to commit to mandating a change away from slit film in the future at all.”
“The injuries on slit film are completely avoidable — both the NFL and NFLPA experts agree on the data — and yet the NFL will not protect players from a subpar surface,” Tretter said.
Tretter also called for the raising of field standards and testing the safety and performance of all surfaces.
“Until we have those standards in place, the NFL needs to be much more conservative when we have visible issues with the fields. The current field inspections do not account for performance and safety, so we should stop saying that these fields are safe to play on based on the fact they passed said inspection,” Tretter wrote, adding that the inspection standards are over 13 years old.
The Kelce brothers, Travis and Jason, recently echoed the NFLPA’s sentiments.
“Take care of your players, man. It is so ridiculous, my feeling of my body after a game on turf than the feeling of my body after a game on grass,” the Kansas City Chiefs tight end said on his podcast this week. “I can only imagine if the game I just played against Tennessee was on turf. Like, I barely walked out of that thing and I know it’s magnified by 10 whenever I play on turf. Every single step in the fourth quarter you feel in the knees and in the joints and in the ankles – at least this is just for me. I hate playing on turf. I think it’s silly.”
The tight end added that he keeps track of which games he plays on turf before the season even starts, so he can “mentally prepare.”
He added: “”I do not play around with this s—.”
“I think it’s time you all take some of that money y’all make off of us and invest it in grass fields for every team around the league,” Jason said, adding that it’s a “league-wide” opinion.