Thursday, December 16, 2010
Bears concerned about TCF Stadium
By Jeff Dickerson
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman and some of his teammates have concerns about player safety if they do indeed face the Minnesota Vikings outdoors at the University of Minnesota's TFC Bank Stadium.
"If I'm a Minnesota player, [or the] organization, yeah, I would like to have the last home game in Minnesota," Tillman said. "But that being said, you got this icy field that nobody has played on since, I don't know, months.
"Is that right for the players, for their players, for us and our safety? No, it's not."
After snow tore a hole in the Metrodome roof, crews have been trying to prepare TCF Bank Stadium. The league said Thursday that the game will go ahead there.
ESPN.com's John Clayton said the Indianapolis Colts have offered to host the game inside their domed Lucas Oil Stadium, if needed. But sources told Clayton that the Vikings are wary because they fear Chicago fans will buy out Indy's stadium.
"If the field is frozen, who the hell wants to play on that?" Tillman said. "I would much rather play in Minnesota, I'd much rather play in the Metrodome, but it was an unfortunate accident that happened, and I don't think anybody could have prepared for what exactly happened at that dome. [And now] everybody is scrambling to get that game in Minnesota. Icy field, players, safety, this is the year when we are cracking down on player safety and concussions and stuff like that. You want to fine guys $75,000, but are we going to play on this frozen field? I don't know, it really doesn't make much sense to me.
"If they get everything done in time, and it passes the NFL inspectation, [there is] nothing to complain about. If they said it's up to par like any other stadium, sweet. If not, I don't think it's smart for the Minnesota players or us as well."
Bears safety Chris Harris echoed the sentiment that playing at the University of Minnesota flies in the face of the league's effort to protect players. Harris tweeted: "With the league concerned on player safety how could they entertain playin a game on a surface that could b as hard as asphalt"
"I think everyone has [voiced concerns]," said Robbie Gould, the Bears' NFLPA rep. "I know that Minnesota players have done so. We've been in contact with the NFLPA.
"The biggest concern that the players have is that we want to make sure that the surface is not going to create more risk than there already is in the game, especially with the NFL right now being such a forefront for player safety. So the biggest concern is the playing conditions of the field and obviously playing on a frozen field will create a little more risk for players. I think the NFL, the NFLPA and the Bears and the Vikings as organizations will make an educated and responsible decision as far as making sure players don't get put in a potential for advanced or more risk, because I don't think the game deserves to put players in that kind of environment. I know there's a lot of people up there from our organization, the PA and the NFL, and something will get done and in a timely manner."
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. ESPNChicago.com Bears reporter Michael C. Wright contributed to this report.