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Battle of the grass

Sixteen NFL stadiums have grass while fourteen use artificial turf. Photo courtesy of Ed Schipul/Flickr

For the longest time, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the players have asked for the National Football League (NFL) to consider changing the turf in the stadiums to natural grass due to the injuries that occur during games or practices. Now that many NFL stadiums are being considered to host FIFAWorld Cup games, the NFL is considering changing to grass for the time being. 

FIFA announced in June 2022 a list of where they are planning to hold the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup, which means using some NFL stadiums. The list includes Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta), Gillette Stadium (Boston), AT&T Stadium (Arlington), NRG Stadium (Houston), GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City), SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles), Hard Rock Stadium (Miami), MetLife Stadium (New York/New Jersey), Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia), Levi’s Stadium (San Francisco) and Lumen Field (Seattle). Since the announcement, the NFL explained they will be changing the turf to grass to accommodate FIFA rules. This change had many players questioning the intention of the NFL after they said they have been asking for turf for some time to accommodate players and reduce injuries. 

There have been reported incidents involving NFL players and their disdain for turf. During Super Bowl LVI, then Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was ruled out for the game against the Cincinnati Bengals after a non-contact injury which resulted in an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in the second quarter. According to an article by Insider, Beckham appeared to get his foot stuck in the turf while running a route. Players created a petition for the league to change to natural grass, this was signed by players such as San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle and defensive end Nick Bosa.  

President of the NFLPA, JC Tretter wrote an article on the NFLPA website explaining how turf is harder on the body than natural grass. Tretter explains how players place extremely high levels of force and rotation onto the playing surface; grass will give in, which will release the cleats prior to injuring the player and there is less give in on turf, which forces the players’ feet, ankles and knees to absorb the force. From 2012 to 2018 players had a 28 percent higher chance of a non-contact lower extremity injury when playing on turf. Tretter mentions players that suffer a non-contact injury have a 32 percent higher rate of suffering a non-contact knee injury and a 69 percent higher rate of suffering non-contact foot and ankle injuries on turf. 

Players have voiced their thoughts on turf and have advocated for the NFL to switch to natural grass for years. Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp tweeted Nov. 12, 2022: “I believe that we — and all teams — should be playing on grass. This is an age-old issue, and I believe the time to address the problem is now! Let’s have the conversation. #saferfields.”  

In an interview with USA Today’s Ryan Wood Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, said, “As much as I’ve enjoyed playing indoors over the years on turf, I do think it’s time to play on grass. I think you’d see less of these non-contact injuries.” 

The NFL has not announced if they will permanently change to natural grass, but the Detroit Lions announced Jan. 25 that they will be upgrading to the FieldTurf CORE system. The Tennessee Titans announced Tuesday, Jan. 31 they will install artificial turf.  

Below are the stadiums that have grass or turf according to Pro Football Network: 

NFL Stadiums with Grass 

State Farm Stadium | Arizona Cardinals 

M&T Bank Stadium | Baltimore Ravens 

Soldier Field | Chicago Bears 

FirstEnergy Stadium | Cleveland Browns 

Empower Field at Mile High | Denver Broncos 

Lambeau Field | Green Bay Packers 

TIAA Bank Field | Jacksonville Jaguars 

GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium | Kansas City Chiefs 

Allegiant Stadium | Las Vegas Raiders 

Hard Rock Stadium | Miami Dolphins 

Lincoln Financial Field | Philadelphia Eagles 

Acrisure Stadium | Pittsburgh Steelers 

Levi’s Stadium | San Francisco 49ers 

Raymond James Stadium | Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Nissan Stadium | Tennessee Titans 

FedExField | Washington Commanders 

NFL Stadiums with Turf 

Mercedes-Benz Stadium | Atlanta Falcons 

Highmark Stadium | Buffalo Bills 

Bank of America Stadium | Carolina Panthers 

Paycor Stadium | Cincinnati Bengals 

AT&T Stadium | Dallas Cowboys 

Ford Field | Detroit Lions 

NRG Stadium | Houston Texans 

Lucas Oil Stadium | Indianapolis Colts 

SoFi Stadium | Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams 

U.S. Bank Stadium | Minnesota Vikings 

Gillette Stadium | New England Patriots 

Caesars Superdome | New Orleans Saints 

MetLife Stadium | New York Giants and New York Jets 

-Will be replaced by artificial grass for the 2023 season 

Lumen Field | Seattle Seahawks 

Katrina Villarreal is the multimedia editor and may be reached at [email protected]  

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About the Contributor
Katrina Villarreal
Katrina Villarreal, Multimedia Editor
Katrina Villarreal is senior multimedia journalism major with a minor in theatre at UTEP. She is going into her second year at The Prospector and is currently the Multimedia Editor. Once she graduates, she plans on becoming a sideline reporter for the NFL or ESPN.  
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Battle of the grass