by Brad Biggs
December 30, 02010
First, Jay Cutler ripped the playing surface at Soldier Field earlier this month, sending the Chicago Park District into a full-blown panic.
The city, which owns and operates the stadium, hastily called a press conference to announce that grass is difficult to grow in Chicago in the winter. That’s not what they said, but that was the basic message.
Now, Brian Urlacher, the face of the Bears’ franchise for a decade, has taken a turn ripping the sod at Soldier Field, continuing what at the minimum is a PR nightmare for the team and Soldier Field.
“The footing at Soldier Field has been horrible," Urlacher said Thursday in his weekly press conference at Halas Hall. "We've all seen that. You watch us on film. Our D-line slipped. It's hard. We're a fast team. I think when you get us on a (Soldier Field) surface like that, it kind of takes a little bit of our speed. Health-wise, I think we're OK. We're playing fast from that aspect. It's just that the field has been so bad that we haven't been able to do what we normally do."
The Bears are 5-3 at home and they have surrendered 70 points in their last two home games to the New England Patriots and New York Jets. Defensive end Julius Peppers has blamed the turf for costing him a handful of sacks. The Bears have a defense built for turf – or built for Tampa, it is the Tampa-2 after all – and they’re playing in a difficult outdoor stadium in a northern climate.
The park district would like to install an artificial surface because it would save money quickly and be able to do much more with the stadium. The Bears, for the time being at least, prefer a natural grass surface. Not all of the players are in favor of that, though.
"(Opposing teams) are playing on the same thing we're playing on, so it goes both ways,” Urlacher said. “But, we're not able to use our speed like we like to. Our corners are slipping when they are coming out of breaks. Our D-linemen are slipping (while) pushing off the ground. But (opposing teams) are doing the same thing. I guess it goes both ways."
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune