The push for grass fields in lieu of artificial turf continues. More and more players and coaches are saying what needs to be said about the importance of protecting players by playing games on real grass, covering real dirt.
Rams receiver Cooper Kupp, whose team plays on artificial turf in one of the league’s newest stadiums, recently said all games should be played on grass. Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey was asked about the situation on Friday, during his weekly press conference.
“Grass,” Ramsey said regarding his preference. “I feel like it’s better for you. It’s better on your joints, it’s better on your body. This might sound like a little funky or a little weird, but if you’re out there playing, all the players would understand what I’m about to say, it feels different. You can feel the grass differently than you can feel the turf. The grass might have a little give to it. The way you plant, the way you break, the feel of it is better. But I ain’t tripping though, I’ll play on concrete if I got to.”
Plenty of players have that mindset, whether because they truly feel that way or because they believe they need to say it in order to be perceived as tough.
Ramsey also was asked whether the grass vs. turf question is a matter of player safety. He stated the obvious, but with some reluctance in his answer.
“A little bit, but I mean there ain’t really nothing we could do about it,” Ramsey said. “There’s a lot that goes into that, business, all that other type of stuff, but yeah, I do. It’s all good though.”
Ramsey seems resigned to the fact that it doesn’t matter. Stan Kroenke could have built a stadium with a grass system, but it would have been much more expensive to do so. An artificial field can quickly and easily be covered whenever the venue hosts one of the various other revenue-generating events that aren’t Rams or Chargers football games. And it would have added expenses to create a system for rolling a grass field into the stadium, a system currently used in Arizona and Las Vegas.
The issue of surface safety has generated even more attention in the aftermath of Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson‘s non-contact, season-ending knee injury on the surface. During Super Bowl LVI, the same thing happened to Rams receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.
“Sometimes freak accidents happen, right?” Ramsey said. “That comes into play, but like I said, I do like grass more than turf, but it is what it is. It’s a lot that goes into everything. Nothing’s ever really simple. We try to come up here and give y’all simple answers or I can try to give you a simple answer, but nothing’s ever really simple. Business goes into it, all other types of stuff go into all these decisions when it’s coming to making a mega-stadium like this. So it’s just part of it. It is what it is. It’s part of it. Everybody’s got to deal with it, so it ain’t like something we can like really complain about, you know what I mean? Because everybody has to deal with it. But it sucks though to see injuries like that regardless of if that was just a freak accident or whether it was because of the turf or whatever. It just sucks to see so many guys getting injured.”
Ramsey may seem nonchalant about the issue, but he’s appropriately resigned to the fact that, no matter how much anyone complains, changes aren’t likely to happen.
Still, everyone should keep pushing for change. It’s easy to become numb to the reasons why owners won’t pay for a safer playing surface. If enough people make enough noise about it, they’ll have no chance but to dip into their superyacht maintenance budget for some money that can be used to put a better an safer playing surface on the football stadiums they use.
In recent months, Super Bowl-winning coaches like John Harbaugh and Pete Carroll have chimed in. The union’s position also is clear. More people need to keep saying it, loudly and repeatedly, to effect change.