Sports | November 14, 2022 3:56 pm

New Research Supports NFLPA’s Campaign Against Slit-Film Turf

Could this lead to changes across the NFL?

Darius Slayton of the New York Giants scores a touchdown during the third quarter while defended by Jonathan Owens of the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium.
Darius Slayton of the New York Giants scores a touchdown at MetLife Stadium, which is fitted with slit-film turf.
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Over the weekend, NFL Players Association President J.C. Tretter published a starkly worded letter critiquing the NFL’s use of slit-film turf and calling for its immediate removal from all stadiums where it’s currently used. This applies to seven teams in six stadiums: the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals.

Now, as NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk revealed, research released by a company called Biocore, who Mike Florio described as “an outside firm that provides engineering analysis for both the league and the union,” supports the NFLPA’s concerns about slit-film turf.

For those wondering what differentiates slit-film turf from other forms of turf, this guide provides some answers. Notably, the fibers in slit-film turf are made from larger pieces of plastic that feature openings where cleats could potentially catch, as opposed to monofilament turf in which each “blade” is an individual piece of plastic.

According to Florio’s report, Biocore’s research indicates that “slit-film has a statistically significant higher risk of LEX injury than the League average.” (LEX is an abbreviation for “lower extremity.”)

Based on Biocore’s models, their research goes on to conclude that “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.” This is in sharp contrast with the NFL’s Jeff Miller arguing that slit-film turf surfaces “have 2-3 more injuries per year,” with most of them being “ankle sprains — a low-burden injury.”

The research cited by Biocore suggests that this problem is of a much greater magnitude than the NFL has contended. Will it result in the NFLPA’s demands for improved playing surfaces being met? Stay tuned.