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Aaron Rodgers’ regular-season debut with the New York Jets was quickly ruined by an injury, and one of his former teammates isn’t happy about it.
Green Bay Packers offensive lineman David Bakhtiari expressed his frustration with the NFL that Rodgers and others were playing on artificial turf at MetLife Stadium instead of grass:
David Bakhtiari @DavidBakhtiari
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!
Rodgers suffered the ankle injury on his team’s first possession against the Buffalo Bills and was helped off the field to the injury tent, where he was met by a cart. The Jets announced X-rays were negative but that he was ruled out for the remainder of the contest.
Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated noted that a number of players feel the same way as Bakhtiari when it comes to turf and suggested that owners around the league are often thinking about the bottom line when it comes to the field surface:
Albert Breer @AlbertBreer
The honest truth—the price point of teams and stadiums now is so high that owners think they can’t justify having one of these venues for just football and a few concerts. So they cram event after event after event in.
That makes it expensive to maintain grass. Turf = cheaper. https://t.co/tVbCApDh9T
According to The Athletic, teams practice on natural grass surfaces even though 14 of the 30 stadiums across the league have a synthetic surface.
MetLife Stadium is no stranger to injuries, and Denver Broncos insider Troy Renck pointed out “it’s no secret that players don’t like” the turf at the home of the Jets and New York Giants.
In 2020, the NFL investigated the surface after a number of San Francisco 49ers players—including Nick Bosa—suffered leg injuries during a game at MetLife Stadium. Baltimore Ravens cornerback Kyle Fuller also suffered a torn ACL during the 2022 campaign when playing on the turf in a game against the Jets.
It should be noted that new turf was installed at MetLife Stadium ahead of the 2023 campaign.
It isn’t surprising Bakhtiari was concerned with Rodgers’ health. After all, this is the first season since he entered the league in 2013 that he isn’t teammates with the all-time great quarterback.
The setback certainly spoiled the raucous atmosphere for the Jets’ home-opener. The team entered the new season with Super-Bowl-or-bust expectations in large part because of the addition of Rodgers to a roster that already had plenty of talent with Garrett Wilson, Sauce Gardner, Breece Hall, Quinnen Williams and others.
A Week 1 clash with the division-rival Bills only made the crowd louder at the start of the contest, but much of the energy drained out of the stadium following Rodgers’ injury.