Super Bowl LVII: Turf vs. grass talk on players’ minds due to knee injuries

Published: Feb. 12, 2023 at 9:25 AM CST
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PHOENIX, Ari. (WBAY) - All season long, and here at the Super Bowl, the NFLPA has been extremely vocal, demanding the NFL go to all-grass playing surfaces in the NFL. And no one has been more out-spoken on the topic than Packers star left tackle David Bakhtiari.

He told me this year that his infamous ACL tear came practicing inside on Don Hutson field, he says just days after that artificial turf was re-done. His biggest beef? With a specific type of turf -- slit film.

Rashan Gary’s knee injury this season? Came on just such a surface at Ford Field.

And artificial turf was at play when Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL in last year’s Super Bowl.

For the players, it’s clear the time is now to make a change.

“It’s just going to be ignored until it’s addressed,” said Packers left tackle, David Bakhtiari. “I mean slit film is cheap. I understand it, from a business standpoint. But we are in bed together, essentially. It’s mutually beneficial to both of us. I don’t think any of us want to go watch a game where the stars aren’t out there. So how do you keep your stars out there? At a certain point it’s going to come to a head where it’s mutually beneficial for both sides.”

But what will it take to come to a head?

“Time,” Bakhtiari said.

“As much as I’ve enjoyed playing indoors over the years on turf, I do think it’s time to go all grass throughout the league,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “I think you would see less of these non-contact injuries that you see on some of these surfaces. And I think it would be a good step in the right direction for player safety for the requirement for every field to be grass.”

And the biggest issue, may surprise you. It’s not that these fields are like playing on cement, which the old astro-turf felt like at times.

“A lot of it is the softness of it,” Rodgers said. “A lot of these fields are softer than others. And what that does, is it creates more wobble I believe, when the foot strikes the ground. And it’s that wobble that can cause some of these non-contact knee injuries that we have seen.

Here at Super Bowl LVII, Arizona has a great field setup, real grass, grown outside, then wheeled inside for gameday. But, I must note that it was on this grass field that Robert Tonyan tore his ACL in 2021.

League-wide, changes are on the way. Ford Field announced it could not have hosted a neutral AFC title game as it was re-doing its much-maligned turf.

But at the same time? The Titans are announcing there are going *away* from grass... to a new type of turf, announcing their poor grass surface has led to injuries of its own.