Getting hurt while playing football is inevitable.
With large, strong bodies flying around the field, it only makes sense that players suffer injuries every game. But perhaps the worst way to get hurt is when the playing surface, rather than an actual player, delivers the blow.
In Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season, a number of players were injured as a result of the field. In the Meadowlands, several Baltimore Ravens players were lost for the season. In Chicago, players were splashing through puddles while trying to score. Out west at State Farm Stadium -- which will host February's Super Bowl -- Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid blamed two injuries on the new turf.
So, what playing surfaces are the worst in the NFL? Here are some of the contenders:
Soldier Field, Chicago Bears
Soldier Field’s grass surface has been considered among the worst in the NFL for years.
“This year, our field has been really bad,” former Bears kicker Robbie Gould said all the way back in 2013. “It's been tore up. There have actually been some places on the field where some portions of it have actually sunk to a new low level, and the other spots are high.”
Things haven’t gotten better in the past few years, and the franchise is now looking into finding a new home in Arlington Heights. Before the Bears’ home-opener this season, the turf was replaced with Bermuda-style grass. Then, a rain storm soaked the field and left puddles all over for the Bears and 49ers to slide through. It did produce an epic celebration from Justin Fields and Co., but this surface clearly needs work.
MetLife Stadium, New York Giants and Jets
For several years now, MetLife Stadium has garnered a reputation as being dangerous for visiting players – and it’s not because of the rabid New Yorkers in the crowd.
Several years ago, the 49ers lost Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas to season-ending injuries due to the MetLife turf. Then in Week 1 of this season, the Ravens lost two players – Kyle Fuller and Ja'Wuan James – to season-ending blows. The surface was cleared by the NFL back in 2020, but it may be time to reassess in wake of the latest round of injuries.
FedEx Field, Washington Commanders
After a rash of injuries from Robert Griffin III in 2013 to Joe Burrow in 2020, Washington completely rebuilt its playing surface at FedEx Field before the 2021 NFL season. The new surface includes grass that was grown in North Carolina, especially made for the stadium.
There have still been some hiccups since the new grass was installed, notably with Chase Young tearing his ACL last season. But the injuries haven’t been quite as frequent, at least.
FedEx Field as a whole remains an issue, clearly.