Brian Urlacher joins HOF game skeptics

July, 21, 2011
7/21/11
5:38
PM ET
It might be a moot point given the last-minute turbulence surrounding ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). But for what it's worth, we now have three prominent Chicago Bears players who have expressed at least some skepticism about playing in the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game after a shortened training camp.

The latest is linebacker Brian Urlacher, who told ESPN he thinks the game already is a "no-go," even if both owners and players approve the CBA by the end of Thursday. The earliest the Bears would report to camp under that scenario is next Tuesday, giving them 12 days to prepare for the preseason opener.

This month, tailback Matt Forte wondered about the increased risk of injury in the rush to be ready for an Aug. 7 game. Place-kicker Robbie Gould, meanwhile, said the Bears "have to have" a full two weeks to get ready.

There is much more at stake in this decision for owners, who derive revenue from preseason games, than players, who don't receive their salaries until the regular season begins. I'm sure Bears coach Lovie Smith would protect his veterans from risk in this game -- i.e., by not playing them. But I've said it before: If the Hall of Fame game is the only on-field casualty of the lockout, both owners and players should consider themselves fortunate.

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