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Friday, November 22, 2013
BE: No artificial surface for Soldier Field

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

In case you missed it, we’ll start today’s Bears Essentials with team president Ted Phillips continuing to cite safety issues as the reason the organization refuses to put down an artificial surface at Soldier Field.

During an interview on ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” on Thursday, Phillips was asked about the storms that hit the Chicagoland area on Sunday which turned the surface at Soldier Field into a quagmire.

“I've been with the Bears for 30 years and this was the first and only time I ever remember having a storm like that blow in during a game where you had to relocate fans,” Phillips said via ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson. “To me, that's not a reason to go to field turf. You can't make a knee-jerk decision. You can't do that. It's a health and safety concern. We're still not at the point where we feel that artificial surfaces play as well, or even as close to grass.

“It's hard enough. Look at the kind of injuries we've had this year. I'm not blaming it on any kinds of surfaces, necessarily, but why go to the extra risk of injuries when you see the results of medical surveys that indicate that the risk of lower-leg injuries is significantly higher than artificial surfaces.

“Until that time comes when it gets to be a little closer to how grass plays, I wouldn't see us changing.”

Dickerson mentions the fact Soldier Field was ranked as the NFL’s third-worst playing surface in 2010, when the NFLPA released a survey regarding the league’s playing surfaces. According to that report 32 of the 39 Bears players participating in the survey felt artificial surfaces were more likely to contribute to grass, and 74.4 percent of them preferred grass over artificial surfaces.

Dickerson points out, however, that four of the team’s season-ending lower-leg injuries this season have come on natural surfaces. “Interestingly, all four lower-leg injuries the Bears have suffered in 2013 have occurred on natural grass: cornerback Kelvin Hayden (Soldier Field Family Night), defensive tackle Nate Collins (Soldier Field), defensive tackle Henry Melton (Heinz Field, Pittsburgh) and defensive lineman Turk McBride (Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais)," Dickerson writes.