Can the Chicago Bears host fans at Soldier Field this year? That’s just one of many questions addressed by Bears Chairman George McCaskey, who met with the Chicago Media via Zoom on Thursday.
McCaskey touched on a variety of other topics, as well, including an anecdote about how he hadn’t yet met the quarterback to which he’ll pay $21 million over the next three years, the social media controversy with Brian Urlacher, and the fight for social justice. I’ve pulled together some highlights from that chat and added some commentary of my own. So kick back and enjoy!
Can the Bears Host Fans at Soldier Field in 2020?
The Chicago Bears will not host fans at Soldier Field to begin the 2020 season, but McCaskey is optimistic a limited number of fans will get to go through the turnstiles at some point this season.
“We’re talking to the city. We’ve presented a plan and we think it’s a good plan. We’re told that it is a good plan, but the city wants to see the number of active cases in the city come down before we can bring people to Soldier field. We’re hopeful, but we want to be prudent. We want to do the right thing, and we want to cooperate with the city in their health and safety measures.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard optimism from the Bears on this front. Team President Ted Phillips shared similar sentiments hoping for fans in the stands at some point this season earlier in the summer.
As a reminder, the Chicago Park District owns Soldier Field. Not the Bears. So any plan the Bears put together must pass the Park District’s sniff test. In other words, McCaskey and the Bears have all the reason to be prudent in this situation. Talking to the city and presenting a plan that officials haven’t rejected out of hand feels like a step in the right direction.
No Fans at Solider Field? No Worries – Virginia Will Still Cheer
During his press conference, McCaskey dropped this nugget:
97-year-old Bears matriarch Virginia McCaskey will make the trip to Detroit for Sunday's season opener.
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) September 10, 2020
No biggie. It’s just the 97-year-old matriarch of the franchise traveling in a global pandemic to see you ball. Without too many Bears fans to host at Soldier Field this year, this could be the extra motivation they need.
Supporting the Fight for Social Justice
One of the most eye-opening statements from earlier in the year came from Akiem Hicks, who admitted he was afraid he would lose his own job for kneeling like Colin Kaepernick did. For a player who signed a large extension days earlier would still fear losing their job for participating in a peaceful protest speaks volumes about what things were like in 2017.
With that in mind, I imagine this statement from McCaskey would make players like Hicks more comfortable to be true to themselves at Halas Hall:
“I hope the players know they’re in an environment here where they’ll be supported. And we’ve told them whatever they decide to do, we will support them. I’m very impressed that for a lot of guys, it’s more than the symbolism of taking a knee. It’s concrete action to make positive change in our community. If they feel more encouraged now to speak out, we welcome that.”
Speaking with Urlacher After Social Media Commentary
When Brian Urlacher’s recent social media activity grabbed headlines and drew the ire of ex-teammates, McCaskey thought the retired Bears linebacker’s Instagram account was hacked. McCaskey appeared to be in disbelief that the Urlacher he knew didn’t mesh with the posts he saw online. The Chairman talked about the triumphs and tragedies he and Urlacher shared during their time in Chicago. He also discussed Urlacher’s charitable efforts while he was a member of the team. And with that history being what it is, McCaskey said he wants to talk to Urlacher before he passes judgment.
“Having known him for 20 years and knowing the type of person he is,” McCaskey said. “I’m not going to judge him until I talk to him.”
McCaskey said the team reached out to Urlacher, but hasn’t connected with him yet.
For more from McCaskey’s Zoom conference, check out the video embedded below: