McCaskey defends Soldier Field turf

Updated: August 2, 2011, 7:36 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

While many of his players and those from other teams have strongly criticized the natural grass surface at Soldier Field, Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey on Tuesday said no changes are planned for a very important reason.

"It's not a money issue on the turf," McCaskey said on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000. "It's at this point, primarily it's a safety issue.

"The studies aren't conclusive, but the studies that we have looked at have shown a higher incidence of lower leg injuries among players on artificial turf. And we want to prolong careers. We want our players to be safe. We want our investment in the players to be protected and the state of artificial turf or an infield surface is such now that we think the safest surface for our players is natural grass."

Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher was the latest to rip Soldier Field's turf when he was a guest on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 on June 23.

"It is a disaster," Urlacher said. "I don't know what else to say.

"We complain about it all the time. I prefer playing on grass, but the FieldTurf stuff is pretty awesome."

Urlacher also praised the natural surface at Green Bay's Lambeau Field.

"Green Bay has awesome turf," Urlacher said. "The weather we play in, they have the same [weather]. We played in the last game of the regular season there, and it was great. Look at ours, and it's beat up and looks horrible.

"We're a fast team. If you put us on Field Turf for eight home games a year? We're going to be real fast. Put [Julius] Peppers on turf? [Devin] Hester with those cuts?"

Urlacher pointed out the different events such as concerts and high school games at Soldier Field, which is owned and operated by the Chicago Park District.

"We work with the Park District ... and they have resodded sometimes twice during the season, so it's something that we monitor," McCaskey said. "And I don't have any scientific evidence for this, but I would suggest to you that a natural grass field that has shown some wear and tear in January is safer than a frozen artificial surface in January.

"We are a speed team, but I think we're fast on [synthetic turf] or natural grass. The idea is to make it as much of a homefield advantage as you can, but to me player safety trumps that issue."