The New York Jets’ trade for Aaron Rodgers this spring meant many things, including that he would be playing 14 games on artificial turf, a significant increase from the four he had with the Green Bay Packers in 2022.
“Huge difference for a guy who turns 40 in December and has had some lower-leg injuries, including calf strains,” an NFL team exec told The Athletic this summer.
But it’s unclear what role, if any, the MetLife Stadium turf had in the injury that knocked him out of the Jets’ “Monday Night Football” season-opening win and possibly much longer.
Jets coach Robert Saleh said after the game the team fears Rodgers suffered an Achilles injury. The quarterback is scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday.
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In only four snaps, Rodgers faced instant pressure from a struggling Jets offensive line, and he went down awkwardly on a sack by Bills linebacker Leonard Floyd. But speculation about the turf, which was replaced this year, fired up the moment Rodgers was helped off the field. NFL players have been vocal in their concern about and disdain for artificial turf.
What did some of the other players who played Monday on MetLife’s new FieldTurf Core surface think? We asked them.
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Bills offensive lineman Dion Dawkins: “I did mention on the field that it felt way better. I don’t know what they did, but it felt way better. The turf feels a lot better because the (old) turf was horrible. But it feels good.”
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Jets wide receiver and longtime Rodgers teammate Randall Cobb: “We wanted the NFL to protect the players with grass fields, but the NFL is more worried about making money. Profit over people, it’s always been the case. I’ve never been a fan of turf. That’s my stance.”
Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley: “For me, the new turf is a lot softer, which I feel in the legs and knees. Like, my legs right now feel a lot better than on the turf last year. So then you feel like maybe it’s improved, but at the end of the day, grass has always been the best.”
Jets running back Breece Hall: “Grass. That’s my answer. We want grass.”
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Jets running back Dalvin Cook: “I played on turf in Minnesota so I know it. I didn’t think it was bad here. It was just wet. I slipped a little bit at first. I didn’t think it was that bad. No complaints from me.”
Jets cornerback D.J. Reed: “It definitely feels better. It’s a lot of beads, so it gets in your cleats. So you got to kind of shake it out, but it’s definitely softer than last year. Playing last year it was definitely harder, so I can see it being more pressure on your knees (then).”
Jets edge rusher Jermaine Johnson: “I’m not a fan of turf at all. It’s just hard on athletes. I love grass. … I played in the South pretty much my whole collegiate career, so the grass is very forgiving. Your strides, anything accidental, the grass will give. Turf doesn’t give, so it just goes back into your body and bad things happen. So I’m not a big fan of the turf, period.”
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(Photo: Michael Owens / Getty Images)
Christine Lake is a sports fanatic who lives and breathes athletics. With an extensive background in sports journalism, he covers everything from major league championships to grassroots sports events. When she’s not on the field or at the stadium, you’ll find Christine coaching youth sports teams.