The field at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Dec. 24, 2022. Dec 24, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Detroit Lions center Frank Ragnow (77) prepares to hike the ball in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been significant pressure from NFL players for years for the league to mandate all-grass surfaces. That escalated this week with a post on the NFLPA website Wednesday from union president JC Tretter. Tretter’s post said data showed there were less non-direct contact injuries on grass every year from 2012-2020 and again in 2022.

In that post, Tretter included numerous graphs tracking those injuries over time, plus a study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine in 2018. He wrote “Instead of following the long-term data (which is clear on this issue), listening to players and making the game safer, the NFL used an outlier year [2021, where injury rates on the surfaces were similar] to engage in a PR campaign to convince everyone that the problem doesn’t actually exist.”

That led to a notable response Thursday from NFL executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy Jeff Miller:

Beyond a divide over league-wide surfaces, Tretter’s post raised specific issues with the Carolina Panthers’ turf field on Christmas Eve ahead of a game against the Detroit Lions (the game seen at top). There, he wrote that the Bank of America Stadium field failed the Clegg test (measuring field hardness) pregame, but the NFL proceeded with the game anyway. The field reportedly passed the test late in the first half, but Tretter wrote that the NFLPA is not satisfied with that, saying “the players in that game had to play on a field that the league acknowledges was not safe. That is beyond frustrating to players and unacceptable in the eyes of our union.”

Miller responded to that claim from the NFLPA with a dispute without details. But he did say the NFL plans to resolve that particular issue via a grievance process rather than in public: “The union’s assertions are incorrect. But we will make our arguments in the appropriate CBA-mandated grievance process, which is ongoing.”

The push for all-grass fields has been going for some time. Last fall, several top NFL players tweeted demands for grass. Here are some of those tweets:

And the union escalated that push further this week with Tretter’s post, and provided data supporting their argument. But, at least as per Miller’s statement here, the league continues to claim there is “no simple answer.” So we probably won’t see all-grass surfaces across the NFL any time soon.

[ESPN, NFLPA; photo from Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.