LAKE FOREST — The Chicago Bears are pretty sure they will play Monday night’s divisional showdown with the Vikings on the frozen field of TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. They’re just not sure they want to.
LAKE FOREST — The Chicago Bears are pretty sure they will play Monday night’s divisional showdown with the Vikings on the frozen field of TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
They’re just not sure they want to.
“You’ve got this icy floor that no one’s been on for months. Is that right for the players, for the guys on our side? I don’t think so,” cornerback Charles Tillman said. “Who the (heck) wants to play on that.”
After heavy snowfall accumulation collapsed sections of the Metrodome roof last weekend and again Wednesday, the scramble to find a replacement site for Monday’s game has heated up.
Though they left room to wiggle out of the decision, according to statements released Thursday by the NFL and the Vikings, the game will be in the stadium the University of Minnesota uses.
If something happens to change that scenario, “at that point, we’ll figure out what we’ll do next,” NFL VP Eric Grubman told reporters while walking through TCF Bank Stadium on Thursday.
“As far as the field we’re playing on,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said from Halas Hall, “I assume we’re playing there (at TCF Bank Stadium).”
Tillman’s dislike of the idea, however, was echoed by plenty of other Bears players Thursday.
“I don’t want to play on top of cement,” defensive back D.J. Moore said.
Still, by the end of the day it appeared safe to say the game will be at TCF Bank. It just may not be safe to play on in the players’ eyes.
“Icy field, players’ safety? This is the year that we are cracking down on player safety,” Tillman explained. “You know, concussions and stuff. You’re going to fine guys $75,000, but are we going to play on this frozen field, it doesn’t really make that much sense to me.”
Chicago kicker Robbie Gould, the team’s union representative, has faith in the system, but even he does not like the way it is unfolding.
“Everyone in our locker room should be, and is, prepared to play in any conditions,” Gould said. “But every player in the locker room is obviously a little worried that the field could be frozen and there is going to be more risk of injury. But at the end of the day, the NFL, the NFLPA, and the Bears and the Vikings will make the right decision.”
Safety Chris Harris and others aren’t sure they did yet.
“If there are that many ifs and what-ifs,” Harris said of TCF Bank Stadium, “then why even bother. Find another place.”
Viking defensive lineman Jared Allen doesn’t really care where they play. According to him, a frozen turf to bang your head on isn’t going to be a problem for him.
“I don’t know, I’m just a dumb lineman and I just show up and hit my head out there anyway,” Allen said during a teleconference. “Wherever they decide we will play, we will play… You just try not to hit your head on the turf, I guess.”
Most of the Bears are clearly down about playing this game somewhere other than inside the Metrodome. However, maybe they should be celebrating. Chicago has won just one of its past seven games there, and needed a late forced fumble to pull that comeback off.
But even Harris would prefer the Metrodome to what he believes to be an unsafe playing surface.
“Absolutely,” Harris said. “The force of the hit, and getting driven into the turf — a frozen turf — you are asking for injuries.”
And for a team that has bragged about its ability to stay healthy all season, that’s one thing you don’t want to ask for.
Bears reporter Jay Taft can be reached at 815-987-1384 or firstname.lastname@example.org.