Metlife Stadium, home of the New York Jets and New York Giants, has recently been scutinized for the playing surface.
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On Monday, Sept. 11, Aaron Rodgers made his highly anticipated debut with the New York Jets. On the fourth play of the 2023 season, Rodgers took a sack. After standing up, he quickly returned to the ground, and that was it for the 39-year-old player. Following a tense wait with little news, it was announced that Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon and would be out for the rest of the season.
“Not the way any of us wanted it to go, but we know the commitment you’ve made to this team will continue to impact us moving forward. Get well soon, @AaronRodgers12,” the Jets wrote on social media.
With Rodger’s injury, the debate over playing surfaces has resurfaced. In an official statement made on Sept. 13, National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) executive director Lloyd Howell argued that all fields should be switched to natural grass.
“Moving all stadium fields to high quality natural grass surfaces is the easiest decision the NFL can make,” Howell said. “The players overwhelmingly prefer it and the data is clear that grass is simply safer than artificial turf.”
Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters that he does not think the playing surface was to blame for Rodgers’ injury, calling it “trauma-induced.”
“If it was a noncontact injury, I think that’d be something to discuss, obviously,” Saleh said.
Just last month, Rodgers commented on the FieldTurf Core field that was installed in MetLife Stadium, saying that despite preferring natural grass, the new field was one of the best artificial ones he’s seen.
After his injury, many players began to strongly criticize turf fields. David Bakhtiari, a former Packers teammate and close friend of Rodgers, took to social media to voice his disapproval of artificial turf.
“Congrats @nfl. How many more players have to get hurt on ARTIFICIAL TURF??! You care more about soccer players than us. You plan to remove all artificial turf for the World Cup coming up. So clearly it’s feasible. I’m sick of this..Do better!” Bakhtiari said.
Eagles cornerback Darius Slay also weighed in on the discourse, criticizing the quality of MetLife Stadium’s field.
“They need to get real grass,” Slay said. “That’s trash. That’s sad for anybody to go down because we play this dangerous game, man. Everybody thinks we’re superheroes, but we’re really not.”
Two days after his injury, Rodgers took to social media to thank everyone for their concern.
“I’m completely heartbroken and moving through all of the emotions, but deeply touched and humbled by the support and love,” Rodgers wrote. “The night is darkest before the dawn. And I shall rise yet again.”