On Sunday, during the Week 5 win against the Tennessee Titans, the Indianapolis Colts lost starting quarterback Anthony Richardson to a sprained AC joint. Indy also lost starting tight end Mo Alie-Cox to a concussion. While extremely different injuries, both were sustained in a similar fashion: making contact with the turf after being tackled.
Richardson fell directly on his shoulder when tackled, and Alie-Cox banged the back of his head against the turf after a catch. While both are normal football plays, and common injuries in the violent game of football, the turf inside of Lucas Oil Stadium has developed a reputation for being unforgiving. In fact, the NFLPA coansiders it the worst type of turf in the NFL.
Colts believed to have the worst type of turf in the NFL
Chloe Peterson did a deep dive into the quality of Lucas Oil Stadium’s turf in a recent piece for the IndyStar. The piece, which published days before Indy’s Week 5 game, highlighted players’ disdain for the playing surface, as well as how the Colts have been the second-most injured team over the last decade— a statistic that many feel correlates to the turf.
"It's been a long-standing issue for the Colts. Man Games Lost NFL found the Colts to be the second-most injured team between 2009-22, just behind the Giants. Indianapolis has had just over 3,000 games lost because of player injuries in that span, roughly 500 more than the average NFL team, according to the site's data. That means the Colts are missing the equivalent of more than two full seasons — 36 games — of two players per season over the average team."- Chloe Peterson (IndyStar)
When Anthony Richardson was asked about the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, two weeks prior to suffering his AC joint injury, he made it clear that he wasn’t a fan, saying, “I banged my knee on the turf. Everybody gets hurt on turf. Just hitting your knee really hard on a hard surface.” It should also be noted that Richardson’s concussion in Week 2 came on turf, though, the game was at NRG Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans.
This is a conversation that’s much bigger than Indianapolis and the Colts. League wide, players have come out in mass expressing their disdain for turf, telling anyone that will listen how they’ll much rather play on grass. However, the decision is ultimately up to NFL owners, as they decide whether they’ll replace the 15 turf fields in the league with grass fields.
While the NFLPA has argued that the data shows that more injuries occur on turf than grass, in addition to how players feel on the different surfaces, the league has said it’s an ongoing situation of research, as they try to find the best playing surface. Of course, there’s also the issue of money. It’ll cost teams to switch to a grass field, and it’ll cost even more money to maintain a grass field than it does a turf field. However, as Gregg Doyel argues in a recent piece for the IndyStar, the cost of not replacing the turf with grass could be meaningful games missed for promising players.