New turf at MetLife Stadium gets positive reviews from Giants, Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The new playing surface at MetLife Stadium is receiving positive reviews after the New York Giants and New York Jets played on it for the first time last weekend.

A new FieldTurf core system was installed earlier this year. The immediate sentiment was that it appeared to offer a softer, more forgiving feel than the previous synthetic turf that drew significant criticism over the past few seasons.

“I’m a fan of grass, for sure. Got to admit that. I like wearing seven studs and playing on grass, but I feel like the field -- it’s supposedly the newest and the greatest,” said Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who warmed up on the turf but didn’t play in the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “There’s obviously been a lot of conversation around grass field compared to turf field, but I feel like the other night, it’s been one of the best surfaces I’ve seen that’s artificial …

“It’s our surface, so we’re going to enjoy it. I’ve always felt a little faster on turf, so I look forward to that.”

The Giants also didn’t suffer any major non-contact injuries in their preseason home opener Friday night. Neither did the Carolina Panthers.

It seems like a massive upgrade from the previous turf. Former Giants captain Julian Love said last year “the stats have shown we are on one of the worst fields in the league.”

MetLife Stadium had been the subject of multiple complaints from opposing teams, as well, including by the San Francisco 49ers after five players suffered lower-body injuries in the same game against the Jets during the 2020 season. The knee injuries by Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were season-ending.

Last season, the Baltimore Ravens were also unhappy after cornerback Kyle Fuller tore an ACL at MetLife Stadium in a Week 1 game against the Jets.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was critical of the playing surface afterwards, saying the “turf was matted down, it was packed down, it was a little tight.”

The new FieldTurf Core system boasts the first multilayer dual-polymer monofilament fiber. MetLife Stadium CEO Ron VanDeVeen called it “one of the premier surfaces in the league” after it was installed back in March.

The new turf drew comparisons to AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

“It’s excellent. Feels a lot more like grass. So, not as sticky,” veteran Giants running back Matt Breida said. "It’s similar to [Dallas]. It’s more of that artificial grass that actually feels like real grass and your foot doesn’t get stuck. It gives. That’s what you want. It helps against injuries.”

It’s still not the ideal solution, but the sticking point with grass has long been its ability to hold up under the Northeast conditions and heavy usage that MetLife Stadium demands. So they stuck with turf, albeit a new and improved version.

Giants veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard was one of the old turf’s critics. He tore an Achilles at MetLife Stadium in 2021 and an ACL last year.

Shepard, 30, caught one pass for six yards on Friday night in his first game back from the ACL tear.

“It’s a little better but turf is turf to me, you know what I mean,” Shepard said. “You wish you were playing on the same surface every time you step out on the field. It’s turf at the end of the day … The other one was a little bit, I guess, thinner, than this one we have now.”

The Giants indoor facility also installed the new FieldTurf Core system this offseason. They practiced on it several times in the spring and summer.

The early returns on the new version were different, even from the coaches.

“I'm not running around and cutting and doing all those things,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “It's a little softer on my lower back, which is always good.”