Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but NFL players weren’t happy with the conditions at Soldier Field.
The Bears hosted the Chiefs in their preseason opener at their home stadium on Saturday. Although it was the team’s first game at Soldier Field since the end of the 2021 season, the playing surface was not in good condition at all.
Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times took some pictures of the field from afar before the Bears’ game began. The field was packed with divots, although there had been minimal NFL action prior to Saturday.
This isn’t Photoshop. This is what the field actually looks like today. pic.twitter.com/NCtRAJxYWK
— Jason Lieser (@JasonLieser) August 13, 2022
Obviously, the concerts and other events that have taken place at Soldier Field over the summer – including home games for MLS club Chicago Fire – have taken their respective tolls.
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Still, it didn’t go over well with NFL players, particularly drawing the ire of NFLPA President JC Tretter. The Free Agent Center went to twitter to express his displeasure with the playing surface and urged the NFL to do something about it.
The NFL said this field meets minimum testing standards. We clearly need to reevaluate what is an acceptable surface for players to compete on. We need new test metrics that look at performance and security across all areas. The NFL can and should do better.
Tretter has played at Soldier Field twice, so he knows what it’s like to play on the chewed-up turf there. His comments weren’t the only negative ones to surface this week, either. Bären kicker Cairo Santos indicated on Wednesday that he too was unhappy with the condition of the pitch.
“I saw better,” Santos said of the field conditions, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s exactly what we need to deal with. The less of a problem you make of it in your head, the better it will help you get over it and just walk away.”
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Santos then revealed that he practiced kicking on a high school field to prepare for the poor conditions at Soldier Field. He also explained that he had to instruct his holder, rookie Trenton Gill, to be sure of holding the ball away from a “hole” in the lawn.
Of course, that’s nothing new for Soldier Field, as veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn conceded.
“It’s just part of Soldier Field,” he said. “It’s going to give a little bit, so you have to recognize the surface you’re playing on and adapt.”
Perhaps Saturday’s game and comments from Tretter and the Bears will push the NFLPA to fight for better conditions at Soldier Field to move forward. However, the Bears and Chicago are attempting to negotiate contracts to build a new stadium, allowing the NFL to delay any action on the problematic turf until a new stadium is built.
Either way, it looks like the playing surface at Soldier Field will continue to cause problems for NFL players at least into the 2022 season.