There’s been a lot of speculation lately about the feeling of an increase in injuries in NFL Training Camps. Twitter has been “a buzz” with questions and concerns from anxious fans as they read almost daily about the latest casualty inflicted upon their dreams of a Super Bowl run for their favorite team. As a former general manager you come to expect that injuries are just part of the game and something you don’t have very much control over. It’s your responsibility to be prepared to find the replacement if and when one of your players goes down.
But does it have to be part of the game and do we not already have some control over the situation? Scaled back contact in practices and ensuring NFL players get the proper amount of rest between two-a-days are now commonly accepted requirements in the preparation for a coming season. Many teams took proactive approaches in tearing out the old astroturf surfaces that wreaked havoc on the bodies of an entire generation of professional football player. All you have to do is look at Hall of Famer Earl Campbell and can quickly gauge the effects that artificial turf had on his knees.
Players understood the toll they were paying (shortened careers, debilitating injuries) and quickly put the pressure on organizations to make a change back to natural surfaces. But as time marched on and the market opened up, so did the call for a new generation of synthetic fields to replace the costly maintenance of natural turf. As a result of the need for a much safer and yet less expensive option to grass emerged, so did the idea of FieldTurf. Here was the artificial alternative that we had all been waiting for; looks like grass, feels like grass, softer than grass, less expensive than grass. It seemingly checked off all the boxes.
But is FieldTurf the ultimate answer to athletic administrators and their challenge to keep a playable surface year round and for multi-purpose use? Does FieldTurf provide the athlete with a reliable footing that won’t put his lower body at risk? Is speed and quickness a viable substitute for safety? Not all the injuries over the past few years in professional football have been linked to synthetic surface, but many have and the numbers show that related damage to the health of our professional players is on the rise.
Here’s a take from Dr. David Geier, renowned orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist.
Would FieldTurf lower players’ risk of ACL tears?
It would be bad if losing a player to a torn ACL hurt a team’s playoff chances. It would be worse for two teams to suffer these critical injuries in the same game. Even worse would be the possibility that those devastating losses could have been prevented in the first place.
Most of the focus from that fateful game has centered on the injury to Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. While most of the controversy focused on whether he should have been cleared to play, several analysts did point out that the conditions at FedEx Field could have been at least a contributing factor.
In that same game, however, the Seahawks lost their best pass rusher, defensive end Chris Clemons, to a serious knee injury. That injury turned out to be a torn ACL and meniscus. Clemons’ agent blamed the “crappy” field conditions for his injury.
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