Sunday, January 16, 2011
Feeling the chill from Soldier Field
By Mike Sando
CHICAGO -- The walk from my parking spot to Soldier Field took me past iced-over harbor waters and Bears fans warming themselves over BBQ fires.
The temperature was about 16 degrees.
Once inside the stadium, I saw workers removing blue plastic tarps from the faded grass. Ice stuck to the bottom of the tarp as workers rolled it up.
Workers are now freshening up lines and logos with new paint as the Seattle Seahawks and Chicago Bears approach the 1 p.m. ET kickoff for their NFC divisional-round game. Additional workers are raking the grass while others with buckets are removing ice shards from the playing surface. The grass appears dingy and unforgiving.
The Bears should have a home-field advantage in the literal sense.
A few Seattle players are walking around the turf in sweatsuits, inspecting the footing. I see one player with two pairs of shoes. Two big lineman types are snapping photos of the stadium. Those guys are wearing shorts with sweatshirts. Crazy. It's chillingly cold out there.
The hot air is flowing here in the press box.
I can hear a Bears radio commentator counting the ways this game will differ from the Week 6 matchup Seattle won 23-20. He's talking about the huge game Julius Peppers is going to have, the groin injury that was bothering Brian Urlacher last time, Lance Briggs' availability for this game, the way Chicago will surely convert far more third-down chances this time, etc. At the end, though, he said something about Jay Cutler being the leader of the Bears' offense, and how a slow start could be troubling for Chicago.
Should be a fun day.