TCF BankWatch: Player complaints rising

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
9:56
AM ET
If you're a Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears player, here is what you know:

  • The field you're scheduled to play on in four days is still frozen solid and covered in a sheet of ice. Temperatures aren't projected to exceed 20 degrees before next week.
  • There are no permanent heating coils installed underneath the field, a standard feature in NFL outdoor stadiums located in northern climates.
  • A University of Minnesota official has outlined a vague plan to apply an unnamed chemical to melt the ice.
  • Then, portable coils would be placed above the field -- don't forget, heat rises -- and covered with a tarp.

Would you feel comfortable about that plan to provide an NFL-caliber playing surface?

[+] EnlargeTCF Bank Stadium
AP Photo/Ann HeisenfeltAmid concerns about player safety, workers continue to prepare TCF Bank Stadium for the Bears-Vikings matchup.
I'm guessing many players will not, and already a few of them are raising their cyber-voices. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Bears safety Chris Harris, among others, have again taken to Twitter on Thursday morning to voice their concerns.

Harris posted this message on his Twitter page and addressed a similar tweet to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: "Players have concerns of traction n the impact of falling on surface that could be as hard as asphalt. What if ur head hits it?"

Kluwe usually employs humor on his Twitter page, but he sounded pretty serious Thursday morning: "Early reports are a 2' layer of ice underneath the snow on the field at TCF. With no heating coils, expect a hockey game, not football."

With both teams resuming practice Thursday after two days off, I expect to hear more of the same in the coming hours. I would be shocked if the NFL Players Association doesn't chime in soon.

The plan to soften the field could work, but the best you can say at this point is that it's untested. If it fails, players will be subjected to a working condition that is no longer necessary in the modern-day NFL.

It's true that NFL games were once played on frozen turf, but we should all consider the advent of heating coils as progress rather than lamentable. Thawed fields are safer and, just as important, provide a better venue for well-played football. Watching players skate around on ice Monday night doesn't sound like an entertaining evening to me.

For that reason alone, we all have to be prepared for a last-minute shift in locations. Atlanta's Georgia Dome, Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium and St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome are all candidates. Stay tuned.

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