After a week's worth of discussion about the playing surface at Soldier Field, the NFL felt compelled to weigh in as we head into the final 24 hours before the NFC Championship Game.
Here is what league spokesman Greg Aiello said via Twitter:
Game Ops folks say Soldier Field is in good shape. Field is tarped w/ hot blowers under the tarp and heating coils under the field.
The heating coils under Soldier Field are 70 yards wide, extending beyond the field border that is 53.33 yards (160 feet) wide.
Another point re: Soldier Field. Surface is all grass, not painted dirt. Grass is browning some as grass does in Chicago in January.
Field re-sodded Dec 1 w/new turf installed between sidelines. So turf from sidelines out is firm, but not frozen + continues to be heated.
Since re-sod of Soldier Field, 3 games played, no other events. Heat-8" below surface. Temp kept at 51 degrees. Heating extends to benches.
Players from both the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers have criticized the field this week, and Packers receiver Greg Jennings called it "probably the worst" in the NFL. The league monitors the conditions of every field, playoffs or otherwise, and so you can view Aiello's series of tweets as acknowledgment it has approved Soldier Field for Sunday's game.
No one expected otherwise, of course. To me, the issue at Soldier Field has never been its condition in December or January. A grass field is going to be torn up by then. But it's often in poor shape much earlier in the season, the result of it being a multiple-use venue. That's less easy to rationalize.
There is also a question of player safety, and whether a torn up and/or frozen field increases the chance of injury. Saturday's statement was the NFL's way of saying that everything has been done that could have been done to ensure a safe field. As we like to say, it is what it is.