MetLife Stadium changes playing surface in 2023 due to backlash from players, NFLPA, but not natural grass

While it won’t change to grass, MetLife Stadium will change playing surfaces for the 2023 season following the NFLPA’s recent letter requesting a Immediate ban on slit film turf. MetLife Stadium is one of six NFL stadiums that currently use slit film turf.

MetLife Stadium is currently reviewing proposals for new synthetic playing surfaces, according to ESPN. Giants safety and NFLPA team union rep Julian Love confirmed that MetLife Stadium will be changing surfaces for next season.

“The Giants and MetLife are getting things done for next year,” Love told NJ Advance Media. “That terrain will have changed. Statistics have shown that we are on one of the worst pitches in the league.”

Love said that while he and most NFL players would prefer to play on grass, he’d settle for the next best product if that wasn’t an option.

“Part of the challenge is the two teams and all the events that [happen] on that field, and so we’d like grass,” Love said. But if that isn’t feasible, then the new state-of-the-art turf available will have to dwindle instead. The Giants are good at that kind of thing, and I think there’s a push now to make everyone the same.”

Slit film turf is currently used in six stadiums: MetLife Stadium (New York Giants and New York Jets), Ford Field (Detroit Lions), US Bank Stadium (Minnesota Vikings), Caesars Superdome (New Orleans Saints), Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis Colts) and Paycor Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals).

In his letter, NFLPA President JC Tretter noted that games played on slit film turf have higher in-game injury rates than other playing surfaces. Non-contact injuries and injuries to the feet and ankles are among the injuries that statistically occur the most on slit film turf, according to Tretter.

“The NFL and its experts agreed with this data and acknowledge that the slit film field is less safe,” Tretter wrote. “Player management wrote a letter to the NFL this week demanding the immediate removal of these fields and their future bans, both in stadiums and training fields. The NFL not only refused to enforce this change immediately, but He has also declined to commit to forcing a change from film to slot in the future”.

Tretter is also asking the NFL not to allow games to be played on fields with obvious visual anomalies. He also wants the NFL to raise standards on the field and test all field surfaces for safety and performance. Finally, Tretter called on the NFL to clear excess people and dangerous equipment from the sidelines.

“We play one of the most dangerous sports in the world; it shouldn’t be more dangerous because clubs will do nothing to remove the simple risks of injury on playing and training surfaces,” wrote Tretter. “If the league actually wants to use data to guide its decisions, then do it already. We’ve been waiting years for some of these changes.”

Tretter’s concerns regarding the slit film turf are well founded. Just ask the 49ers, who have lost a string of players in 2020 after San Francisco plays at MetLife Stadium. Richard Sherman, a 49ers cornerback at the time and currently the NFLPA vice president, called on the NFL to ban movie turf as he used his spotlight as an Amazon analyst for Thursday night games.

“It has to change immediately,” Sherman said, via Cincinnati.com. “The league stands for player safety. And when there’s clear evidence that a playing surface is dangerous – there are nine more serious injuries on this surface than even other grass fields – like, you need to change it now.”

Several current high-profile players have weighed in on the matter recently. Among them is Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who has offered a possible solution to the problem.

“The quality of the pitch is the first thing you notice when you step out,” said Burrow, whose team is one of seven teams currently using slit-film turf. “It changes the cleats you wear. It changes how you cut, how you run courses, all of the above. So I think having universal turf would be a great thing for us as players. I don’t know the stats on it, or injuries or other, depending on the playing surface.

“Personally I like to play on grass, but I would like every stadium to have the same turf.”

Burrow’s comments come after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers challenged the NFL to look further into the correlation between field surfaces and player safety. Rodgers is a proponent of playing on grass courts.

“As much as I’ve enjoyed playing indoors on turf over the years, I think it’s time to play on grass,” Rodgers said. “I think you would see less of these non-contact injuries.”

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