Those aspects of Bakhtiari collided on Monday night when Rodgers, making his debut for the Jets, fell to the turf at MetLife Stadium in New York, three plays into the game against Buffalo. Rodgers originally got up, but quickly began grasping his leg and went back down. He limped off the field, then was carted to the locker room and did not return.
The painful initial diagnosis must be confirmed by MRI, but it’s brutal: torn Achilles tendon.
Bakhtiari, for one, was furious with the NFL and the fact that, here in 2023, the league is still using artificial turf.
“Wrote Bakhtiari on Twitter: “Congrats @nfl. How many more players have to get hurt on ARTIFICIAL TURF??! You care more about soccer players than us. You plan to remove all artificial turf for the World Cup coming up. So clearly it’s feasible. I’m sick of this .. Do better!”
Still upset, Bakhtiari added another tweet: “WTF!!!! That injury is TURF related. Can we put an end to this sh** already”?
NFLPA Has Campaigned Against Turf
The issue of artificial turf and injuries in the NFL has been a ripe one for the past few years, as the league continues to say that turf is as safe as grass, and that teams should be allowed to maintain a turf surface if they so choose. In all, 14 of the NFL’s 30 fields are artificial turf.
In 2020, NFLPA president J.C. Tretter began a campaign calling for the ban of artificial turf in the NFL. The league has consistently pushed back on the idea, but in April, Tretter posted several studies on the NFLPA’s site with data he said showed players got hurt an average of 0.013 more times per 100 plays on turf than on grass in 2022, a significant statistical difference after the numbers had flipped the previous year.
“In short, last year, the gap – much like the NFL’s credibility with players on this issue – was as wide as it has ever been, proving that (as the NFLPA suspected) 2021 was in fact an outlier,” Tretter wrote. “Now, 10 of the previous 11 years show the same exact thing — grass is a significantly safer surface than turf.”
He added: “The credibility the league has with the players on health and safety issues is virtually nonexistent. Instead of following the long-term data (which is clear on this issue), listening to players and making the game safer, the NFL used an outlier year to engage in a PR campaign to convince everyone that the problem doesn’t actually exist.”
MetLife Turf Has Been Problematic
The turf at MetLife Stadium has often been the target of enmity from players and coaches. In 2020, the 49ers went to New York to play the Jets and watched player after player go down on the turf. Star defensive end Nick Bosa tore his ACL that day, as did the other defensive end, Solomon Thomas.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt, too, as did running back Raheem Mostert and his backup, Tevin Coleman.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said at the time that the turf was “sticky” and lamented having to come back to play the Giants the following week.
“I know our players talked about it the entire game, just how sticky the turf was, and I think that was the first time people played on it, I think,” Shanahan said. “But yeah, it was something our guys were concerned about right away. And the results definitely made that a lot stronger.
“Unfortunately this is a place we’ve got to go back to next week.”