The Soldier Field sod looks good for Manchester United against the Chicago Fire in a friendly match on July 23, 2011... But to Hell with the Bears!
Last Friday Night isn't only the latest Katy Perry song to hit #1 on the Billboard charts, it's also the latest controversy surrounding the Chicago Bears. The Soldier Field sod, last Friday night for Family Night, was unplayable. By now we all know the story of the inexcusable lack of proactive thinking by the Chicago Park District, and their "duh, it was hot out, and we forgot to water", lameass excuse. But I have no problem with the Chicago Bears turning around and heading back to Bourbonnias to practice. They have work to do, and they have a limited time to prepare.
My initial reaction to the cancellation of Family Night was disbelief. Why do these weird things happen to the Bears? I was like most fans and thought the Bears players should have stuck around Soldier Field. At first I thought they should have at least done a meet and greet and signed some autographs for the families that braved the Lollapalooza traffic, but then the coach in me slapped me to my senses.
I'm going to draw a parallel between all coaches on all levels of football. It may seem like an unfair comparison because the Bears are a team of professionals and they owe a lot of what they have, monetarily speaking, to the fans. But coaches are a different breed. Most love to teach, most love the chess match that is football, with the Xs and Os, and the game-planning. They love the games behind the game, and most would be coaching somehow somewhere, with or without a paycheck. I can compare all coaches on all levels, because regardless if you coach college, high school, youth football, or the pros, you have about 2 hours of on field practice time per day. That's it. Well, except for the first couple weeks of high school and college football practice, those coaches can do double sessions, but that's a no-no in the NFL.
Regardless of the level, these coaches have a limited time to prepare their teams. And with the lockout and the new CBA agreed upon, they have even less than they're used to having this year. They have their practices scheduled out to the minute. One missed practice can set them behind. Missing an on field practice can send them scrambling to figure out how to fit the 2 hours missed into the next few practices. On both sides of the ball the coaches know exactly what they need to get done, they know exactly what they need to install, and they know exactly what they want to see during practice.
Some of you may know that I coach youth football, and last Wednesday we were rained out (actually we had to stop because of lightening), but regardless, we lost a practice. That practice set us back a day from installing our base defense, and the first few offensive formations. It also meant we'll be a day late getting into our special teams. We'll be a day later in adding our variations to those first few formations, and we'll be a day later in putting in our first blitz package. I failed to mention we have a preseason game this Sunday. We'll have the kids ready, but we sure as Hell would have liked that extra day to prepare.
Most coaches simply want to coach. Some enjoy all the peripheral stuff that goes along with coaching at the NFL level, the attention starved ego boosting (see: Ryan, Rex), but Lovie Smith wants to teach his guys. He has that old school gym rat mentality, and he's happiest on the field or in the classroom. I understand the anger at the Family Night Fiasco, but the anger should be directed at the Chicago Park District and not at the coaching staff that's trying to get their team ready the only way they know how. By practicing.