Welcome back, loyal column readers. While it won’t be a typical year at Soldier Field, it’s never a typical year as a Bears fan. However, everyone and their brother believes their sports team is show-stoppingly unique, right? Why else would we cheer for them? Don’t worry; you’re on the right side of history.
On Thursday, August 20, the Bears released a statement announcing that “now is not the right time” to allow fans back into Soldier Field Stadium, after meeting with city health officials about the fate of the upcoming NFL season amid COVID-19. The team cited current health metrics as the basis of their decision, yet made sure also to communicate that the situation is fluid. However, based on the uncertainty that has loomed over the entirety of 2020, we could see this fan ban remain in place until next fall.
While this announcement is a bummer, it is not full of surprises. Earlier this summer, the Chicago Bears front office gave an overview of their strict facility guidelines and protocols as they welcomed players back to campus ahead of preparation for the season. Thanks to extensive facility renovations and staggered arrivals, the team expressed early confidence in their ability to curb internal COVID-19 cases. The Bears’ current protocols include the requirement of two at-home temperature checks, designated entrances and exits and more. The team also completed the entirety of their offseason program virtually.
If you look around the NFC North, everyone is in a slightly different spot. Bleacher Report broke that the Green Bay Packers were planning to play in front of a reduced audience at the beginning of July. But at the beginning of August, the team revised their plan: Lambeau Field would not host fans for the first two home games of the season, leaving the rest of the season’s fate to be decided later.
The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported Friday that the Vikings are currently in talks with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz about allowing fans into U.S. Bank Stadium. The Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings are the two NFC North teams with indoor fields. Minnesota’s decision is expected sometime this week, but following the release of Chicago and Green Bay’s news, it’s unlikely that fans will be permitted to attend.
Also on Friday, Detroit revealed that they would follow in the Packers footsteps by not allowing fans at Ford Field at least for the first two games of the season, affecting the first home game against the Chicago Bears on September 13. For the remaining six home games, the Lions have put together a couple of three-game packages for season ticket holders.
With no 2020 preseason games to focus on, it’s safe to say that NFL fans are probably chomping at the bit ahead of the first kickoff. Personally, I’m just hoping that the Bears make it to Detroit safe and sound. Read on to get a look at my off-the-cuff predictions for the first half of Chicago’s season. In the meantime, be safe, mask up and Beardown.
Bears at Lions: W
Bears vs. Giants: W
Bears at Falcons: W
Bears vs. Colts: W
Bears vs. Buccaneers: L
Bears at Panthers: W
Bears at Rams: L
Bears vs. Saints: : L