Sunday, August 14, 2011
Soldier Field holds up under wet conditions
By Michael C. Wright
CHICAGO -- Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher once called it a joke.
Perhaps that's why quarterback Jay Cutler laughed after the team's preseason-opening win over the Bills once questions were asked about the turf at Soldier Field, which was saturated by rains throughout much of the night.
"It was, I don't know. It is what it is," Cutler said, laughing. "I don't think it's going to change so we're just going to play on it."
Cutler jokingly poked fun at the field in the postgame press conference, but it seemed to get decent reviews from the players in the aftermath of the game.
Often criticized over the years by the Bears and players around the league, the surface at Soldier Field became a concern recently after the team was forced to cancel the practice part of its annual "Family Fest" because of field conditions.
Soldier Field general manager Tim LeFevour explained then that the problem arose when the grounds crew didn't apply enough water to the natural grass field, which they like to keep dry and hard to help the Bears take advantage of their team speed.
Heavy rains pelted the area much of Saturday, resulting in groundskeepers keeping the field covered with a tarp until approximately 5:30 p.m. Reviews seemed to be positive, despite the rain.
Receiver Roy Williams said the "field wasn't bad at all" during the first half, adding that he's "looking forward to November, December to see how it really is. But today it wasn't bad."
Fellow receiver Johnny Knox agreed. The turf held together well enough for Knox to return a kickoff 70 yards in the first quarter.
Earlier in the week Bears president Ted Phillips said he had been in contact with the Bills and the NFL about the condition of the field, and that both were assured the surface would be in top shape.
"It was pretty good," Knox said. "I didn't get a chance to see it when we didn't practice [during Family Fest], but it felt pretty good out there."