Bears kicker Robbie Gould criticizes Soldier Field turf, then apologizes
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kicker Robbie Gould issued a statement through the Bears on Wednesday, apologizing to Soldier Field, its grounds crew and the team’s grounds crew for the critical comments he made about them and the field’s condition on the radio.
But that came after stronger statements from Gould in the Bears’ locker room at Halas Hall regarding how the playing surface at Soldier Field and his future might be intertwined.
“If those are the [field] conditions we’ve got to play in, I just have to adjust, and obviously those are the type of situations you look for in re-signing with teams,” Gould said. “I have a year left on my contract. I hope to stay a Bear. And those will be situations that I’m going to take into [consideration]. I don’t know if I want to deal with that as I get older as a kicker.
“But at the same time, I’d love to retire a Bear. I’d love to be here. I’ve got a year left before we start talking about that, but those are things that guys like myself in my position think about.”
Every season the playing conditions at Soldier Field, which is owned and operated by the Chicago Park District, become a hot-button issue with players, especially with more stadiums having FieldTurf or hybrid grass. Gould, the fifth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, admittedly called himself “one of the more outspoken ones.”
A steady rain saturated the field Sunday night, when the Bears hosted the Houston Texans. A Soldier Field official confirmed that the field will be resodded by Friday, but not entirely. The middle of the field and between the hash marks will be given the most attention.
“I very much appreciate our relationship with SMG and the Chicago Park District,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said in a statement. “We have assembled a strong team of members from our staff and theirs that work together to evaluate the field and keep it in excellent condition. They have done a great job working with us to ensure we have the best playing surface for our players.”
On WMVP-AM (1000) on Tuesday night, Gould described the field as uneven and torn up, saying, “If I were a grounds-crew superintendent, I think I would keep a little bit of an eye if they were calling for rain for six straight days.”
On Wednesday at Halas Hall, Gould apologized if he insulted anyone with his comments, but he also stood by his criticisms, saying the field is “a lot softer than it has been in years past” and stressing the need for the NFL to monitor playing surfaces better.
Then Gould issued a statement, saying: “I need to apologize to the grounds crew at Soldier Field and our grounds crew for my recent comments regarding the field. I have since learned a lot more about the NFL’s policies and the measures that are taken at Soldier Field to ensure a reliable and safe playing surface. It was my mistake to speak prior to having a full understanding.”
Gould said he didn’t want to come off as making excuses.
“That’s not why I missed a field goal on Sunday, and it’s not why I’ve missed the other field goals this year,” he said.