LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Sunday's severe weather that delayed the Chicago Bears' home game against the Baltimore Ravens and damaged the Soldier Field natural-grass playing surface was not enough to convince the Bears to reconsider their long-standing opposition to having FieldTurf installed in their home stadium.
In an interview on Thursday with ESPN 1000's “Waddle and Silvy Show,” Chicago Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips cited safety issues as the reason for the organization's ongoing refusal to switch to an artificial surface.
“I've been with the Bears for 30 years, and this was the first and only time I ever remember having a storm like that blow in during a game where you had to relocate fans,” Phillips said. “To me, that's not a reason to go to FieldTurf. You can't make a knee-jerk decision. You can't do that. It's a health and safety concern. We're still not at the point where we feel that artificial surfaces play as well, or even as close to grass.
“It's hard enough. Look at the kind of injuries we've had this year. I'm not blaming it on any kinds of surfaces, necessarily, but why go to the extra risk of injuries when you see the results of medical surveys that indicate that the risk of lower-leg injuries is significantly higher [on] artificial surfaces.
“Until that time comes when it gets to be a little closer to how grass plays, I wouldn't see us changing.”
Soldier Field was ranked the NFL's third-worst playing surface when the NFLPA released the 2010 NFL Players Playing Surfaces Opinion Survey back in February 2011 -- 1,619 players from all 32 teams participated in the survey.
However, according to the report, 32 of the 39 Bears' players surveyed felt that artificial surfaces are more likely to contribute to injuries than natural grass, and 74.4 percent of the Bears preferred grass to artificial surfaces.
Interestingly, all four lower-leg injuries the Bears have suffered in 2013 have occurred on natural grass: cornerback Kelvin Hayden (Soldier Field Family Night), defensive tackle Nate Collins (Soldier Field), defensive tackle Henry Melton (Heinz Field, Pittsburgh) and defensive lineman Turk McBride (Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Ill.).