NFLPA Executive Director: 92% of Players Prefer to Play on Grass Fields Over Turf
Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIFebruary 8, 2024

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2023/07/26: Executive Director NFL (National Football League) players Association Lloyd Howell speaks as striking members of Writers Guild of America picketing in front of CBS Broadcast Center on theme Sport Writers Picket. Executives from NHL Players Association, NFL Players Association, MLB Players Association joined and spoke during picket. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ninety-two percent of NFL players prefer grass fields over turf surfaces, per NFLPA executive director Lloyd Howell, who relayed the findings during an NFLPA news conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

“It’s really basic,” Howell said, per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “It’s not rocket science. Ninety-two percent of our union wants grass. That’s compelling. The bottom line is, it’s unquestionable that our union wants to have a working condition where they play on grass.”

Roughly 1,700 players voted in the poll, per Howell (h/t The MMQB’s Albert Breer). The outliers were kickers, who preferred turf.

This isn’t the first time Howell has made a push for the NFL to switch to natural grass, as he notably issued a plea soon after the 2023 regular season began.

Cameron Wolfe @CameronWolfe

NFLPA exec director Lloyd Howell makes another public union push to move all stadium fields to natural grass citing safety. Many players have also been vocal in preferring grass over turf in their hopes to decrease injuries.

After the NFLPA’s push for grass fields, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell went on ESPN’s First Take (h/t Breer) and said there were “mixed opinions” from players on the matter.

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on NFLPA’s call for grass fields: “You have other players who like playing on the turf field, because it’s faster. So you’ve got mixed opinions. What we want to go on is science, we want to go on what’s the best from an injury standpoint.”

Injuries are the primary issue at hand, to the point where the union is now calling this a “workplace issue.”

Joseph McBride @_JosephMcBride

NFLPA exec director Lloyd Howell confirms that they’re treating artificial turf as a “workplace issue”.

Injury data has been acknowledged, and even though last season had the highest injury rate on grass in the last 10 years, it was still lower than the artificial average. #NFL

NFLPA president JC Tretter also provided more insight.

“Turf has stayed relatively consistent at an injury rate over the last decade,” Tretter said. “Grass this year has its highest injury rate over the last decade, but it was still lower than the injury rate on turf. So, the worst performing year on grass is still better than turf this year.”

Four players were on hand alongside Howell, including Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler, who provided his perspective on the manner.

“You bounce a little bit different off concrete, rubber and plastic than you do off grass and dirt,” Ekeler laughed, per Gutierrez. “It hurts. Turf is a lot harder surface.

“When it comes to my legs, on turf, you stick. On grass, dirt, you move a little bit. So, it’s the accumulation of those little things.”

There are 30 NFL stadiums, with both New York teams and both Los Angeles teams each sharing a field. Currently, 13 fields are grass, while the other 17 are a “version of synthetic turf,” per Howell.

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