By Shawn Muller–
The last time I checked, the Chicago Bears play their home games outdoors in Soldier Field. The home of the Bears has long been known to be one of the most unforgiving stadiums in the National Football League in terms of inclement weather. Just like Chicago, places such as, Green Bay, Buffalo, and New England –to name a few– have seen their fair share of “less than ideal” weather conditions throughout the years.
Look at the weather last Sunday when the Bears hosted the New England Patriots. There were wind gusts ranging from 30 to 50 miles per hour. There was that steady snowfall that, when coupled with the blistering winds, created near white-out conditions. Oh yeah…there were also those pesky single-digit temperatures causing the mercury to drop by the hour. I was miserable just watching the game from the comfort of my own home. I couldn’t imagine how miserable the fans in the stands and the players on the field were.
So goes life as a Midwesterner during the winter months I guess…or at least I thought so anyways.
After hearing some of the Bears players comments about playing the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, you would think Chicago plays in Death Valley, Arizona and Minnesota is next door Antarctica.
When asked about the thought of playing the Vikings outside in Minnesota, the Bears Charles Tillman said, “If I’m a Minnesota player, organization, yeah, I would like to have the last home game in Minnesota. But with that being said, you got this icy field that nobody has played on since, I don’t know, months.” Tillman went on to say, “is that right for the players, for their players, for us and our safety? No, it’s not.”
Come on Charles…all of us in Big Ten Country know that a football game hasn’t been played in TCF Bank Stadium since it opened in September of 2009 (gratuitous shot at the Gophers…ba-dum-bump!). All Gopher jokes aside (sorry Gopher fans), the reality is that a game was played in TCF Bank Stadium less than one month ago when Minnesota hosted Iowa to close out the Big Ten season.
I am sorry Mr. Tillman, but you are grasping at straws on this one I‘m afraid.
Yes the NFL has cracked down on “dirty hits” by slapping players with hefty fines. Yes the NFL is making a conscious effort to make player safety a top priority.
But did I miss something here?
Don’t NFL players understand that they play a violent game in sometimes “less than ideal” conditions? No one is forcing these players to play professional football. It is their choice to do so. There are days when people in any profession (except for bull-pen catchers…I guarantee this) just don’t feel like going into the office. But it is their job, it is what they signed on to do, they suck it up, and go do it. It is time for the Chicago Bears to put the big boy pants on and go play the Vikings outside! For a team that plays often, in all types of weather, Tillman is making the Bears players sound like a bunch of whiney old-women at a crocheting club.
But Charles Tillman is not alone. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said, “we don’t want to go out there and play on a concrete-type surface.”
Yes I know you have already suffered a concussion this season Jay, but don’t use the venue as a scapegoat. You could suffer another head injury anywhere at anytime and on any surface. I can almost guarantee you Jay, that when you were a kid, you would have played on an open field full of broken glass and rocks the size of steaks if you could manage to find enough kids to get a game going…and not complained one bit. When many of us who played football when were little, we didn’t care what the playing surface was like as long as we could just play. You dealt with it then and you can deal with it now. It is the same type of situation…well…except for all those pesky “Benjamin Franklin’s” getting in the way.
I would be willing to bet any amount of money that, if this were the New England Patriots having to travel to Minnesota to play outside on Monday night, nary a complaint would be heard from their players. Championship caliber teams have an “anytime-anywhere” type mentality. They don’t care what the conditions are come game time. They go out there and do their jobs. If the Chicago Bears want to be mentioned in the same breath as the Patriots and the rest of the NFL elite, the “anytime-anywhere” type of mentality needs to engulf the Chicago locker room.
Remember, a Bears win on Monday, coupled win a Green Bay loss to New England on Sunday, clinches an NFC North Division Title for Chicago for the first time since 2006.
That should be the teams focus…not the stadium or playing conditions.
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in Chicago for 7 years. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and just recently received his certificate in radio broadcasting in October of 2010. Sports have always been a passion of Shawn’s. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, “Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.