NFLPA Puts League on Blast, Calls for Replacement of Slit-Film Turf Fields

by Dustin Schutte
(Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire)

The NFL Players Association is calling on the league to make some changes when it comes to slit-film turf fields. NFLPA president JC Tretter wrote and published a letter on Saturday regarding the matter.

In recent days, several players from across the league have commented on replacing slit-film turf with grass. Their argument stems from a health and safety concern — which was also the primary focus of the NFLPA’s letter.

“Advocating for safer working conditions is a core job of our union, and there are few greater examples of this than raising the standards of the fields we practice and play on,” Tretter wrote.

“Week after week, we have heard players sound off on the need to improve our fields, too often after a player suffers an injury. This week, we have seen the NFL PR machine go into overdrive to spin a more favorable narrative to what the union and players know is a problem.”

The NFLPA listed out a few recommendations regarding player safety when it comes to the field of play:

  1. The immediate replacement and ban of all slit film turf
  2. No longer allowing games to be played on fields with clear visual abnormalities
  3. For players, it means we need to raise the field standards and test the safety and performance of all field surfaces
  4.  Clear the excess people and dangerous equipment from the sidelines

Based on the nature of the NFLPA’s letter, it doesn’t appear the organization is willing to wait. It wants to see action from the league as soon as possible.

Cooper Kupp, Other NFL Players Speak Up

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp also got in on the action of the weekend. He commented on the situation, asking the NFL to open up the dialogue on the situation.

“I believe that we — and all teams — should be playing on grass,” Kupp said on Twitter. “This is an age-old issue, and I believe the time to address the problem is now! Let’s have the conversation.”

The conversation has come up following a data update from ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. He shared information that showed that, while there was an uptick in non-contact injuries in lower extremities from 2018 to 2019 — when slit-film turf was incorporated — there’s been very little difference between the field turf and grass.

Kupp, and others, still believe it’s an issue.

“The data is clear and the NFL agrees: Slit film synthetic surface is bad for players, and there is a higher injury rate than on grass or any other synthetic surface,” wrote Kupp’s teammate, Nick Scott.

“We know the data – our union and the league agree that we should eliminate slit film turf,” said Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz. “The NFL isn’t willing to mandate this change, so we as players are going to keep talking about this issue until it changes.”

This will be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Maybe there’s no answer this season, but it could be an offseason conversation.