Slit-film turf, a surface currently in six NFL stadiums, is under increased scrutiny after recent comments from the NFL Players Association.
NFLPA President J.C. Tretter authored a letter in early November, criticizing the playing surface and calling for its immediate removal from stadiums and practice fields.
“Player leadership wrote a letter to the NFL this week demanding the immediate removal of these fields and a ban on them going forward, both in stadiums and for practice fields,” Tretter stated in the letter.
Slit-film turf is one of several different types of synthetic turf options. This surface, according to a breakdown from The Motz Group, consists of flat turf blades that are created by adding slits to thin sheets of plastic.
Critics raise injury concerns over the manufacturing process for the blades. In an article from ProFootballTalk, criticism comes due to the openings in the pieces of slit-film that can get player’s cleats caught in the turf. Biocore, an outside firm hired by the league and player’s union, iterates that “models suggest there are 2-3 more non-contact lower extremity injuries per season per stadium on slit film surfaces than other types of synthetic turf fields.”
These recent headlines and expression of concerns are not unfamiliar to those inside the league. In 2020, Tretter was making similar statements when it came to synthetic turf.
“Until we can find a way to get synthetic turf to respond and react like natural grass, it’s too much of a danger to continue to play on and expect different results,” Tretter said. “It’s possible to get grass in every location, and it’s about pushing for that.”JC Tretter, NFLPA president and former Green Bay Packers & Cleveland Browns center
Some teams are moving forward for the moment with their current playing surface, but MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets in the New Jersey Meadowlands, stated last week via a report from CBS Sports that they would be changing from slit-film turf to a different playing surface for the 2023 season.
As the concerns for player safety continue, Tretter and other advocates will continue to push for changes like those occurring at the Meadowlands.