The NFL Players Association issued a letter demanding that slit-film turf fields be “immediately replaced and banned” throughout the league.
The league uses three types of turf: slit-firm, dual fiber, and monofilament, but the slit-firm surface has proven to cause players to miss more time due to injuries, which also occur at a higher rate on it.
“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,” NFLPA President JC Tretter wrote Saturday.
“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.
“If the NFL is serious about their claims that they make data-based decisions and that they care about player safety, then we have some actionable items for them.”
Slit-firm turf is used in six stadiums (and by seven teams). According to Tretter, the NFL has admitted that slit-film fields are more harmful to players’ health than other surfaces.
However, Tretter says that “the NFL has not only refused to mandate this change immediately, but they have also refused to commit to mandating a change away from slit film in the future at all.”
“The injuries on slit film are completely avoidable — both the NFL and NFLPA experts agree on the data — and yet the NFL will not protect players from a subpar surface,” Tretter said.
Tretter also advocated for increased field standards as well as testing the safety and performance of all surfaces.
“Until we have those standards in place, the NFL needs to be much more conservative when we have visible issues with the fields.
“The current field inspections do not account for performance and safety, so we should stop saying that these fields are safe to play on based on the fact they passed said inspection,” Tretter wrote, adding that the inspection standards are over 13 years old.