David Bakhtiari didn’t mince words when his friend and former teammate Aaron Rodgers went down with injury Monday.
The longtime Green Bay Packers left tackle immediately made a pointed call for the league to install natural grass fields at all NFL stadiums.
“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 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.
He was eventually seen in a walking boot. X-rays were negative, but the Jets, Rodgers and the rest of the NFL world anxiously await the results of an MRI on Monday that will will detect any soft tissue and ligament damage.
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 abound — especially among players — and frequently point to injuries like 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 Field in Los Angeles and AT&T Stadium in Dallas, which both 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. Officials installed new turf at MetLife Stadium during the offseason.
But it’s not natural grass. It’s the latest iteration of artificial turf called the FieldTurf Core system that 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 the use of artificial turf of any kind.