David Bakhtiari didn't mince words when his friend and former teammate Aaron Rodgers sustained a season-ending Achilles tear Monday.
Upon seeing the injury, Bakhtiari, the longtime Green Bay Packers left tackle, immediately made a pointed call for the league to install natural grass fields at all NFL stadiums.
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!
— David Bakhtiari (@DavidBakhtiari) September 12, 2023
"How many more players have to get hurt on ARTIFICIAL TURF??!" Bakhtiari wrote on social media. "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!"
Rodgers left Monday's game against the Buffalo Bills on his first drive with the New York Jets after joining the team via trade from the Green Bay Packers. His left ankle appeared to get caught in the turf during a tackle, and he left the field on a cart.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 12, 2023
He was eventually seen in a walking boot. X-rays were negative.
"It's not good," Saleh told reporters.
After news of the Achilles tear, cornerback Darius Slay — whose Philadelphia Eagles play at least one game per season at MetLife Stadium — spoke out.
“It’s obvious to see," Slay told reporters. "A lot of guys have season-ending injuries there.”
Why don't all NFL stadiums have natural grass?
Calls for natural grass in NFL stadiums aren't new. Artificial turf has evolved significantly since the early days of AstroTurf, and some advocates argue that it's safer than playing on natural grass. Others contend that it will get there eventually if it's not already.
But skeptics — especially those who are players — frequently point to injuries such as Rodgers' as reason to install natural grass. Bakhtiari rightfully pointed out that NFL stadiums hosting World Cup games in 2026 will switch to natural grass to meet World Cup standards demanding it. Those stadiums include SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and AT&T Stadium in Dallas, which currently host NFL games on artificial turf.
MetLife Stadium has been a frequent target of critics after a rash of injuries to San Francisco 49ers players in a 2020 game against the Jets. Those calls were heeded — to a point, as officials installed new turf at MetLife Stadium in the offseason.
But it's not natural grass. It's the latest iteration of artificial turf called the FieldTurf Core system, which touts technology such as "the first multi-layer dual-polymer monofilament fiber."
That technology is of no solace to Rodgers, Jets fans or longstanding critics of artificial turf of any kind.