Halfhearted renovation of Soldier Field likely cost Chicago a Super Bowl

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CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16: A member of the field crew blows the snow off the yardage lines in the second quarter of the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) R:MerlinGetty_PhotosGYI0063069201.jpg

I’ve got thoughts. Wonder if you agree.

◆ WITH THE PROLIFERATION of Super Bowls in cold-weather sites – Indianapolis next Sunday, Minnesota, Detroit (twice) and even an open-air game scheduled for 2014 in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. – I find it sad that Chicago is nowhere to be found on the list.

Like many, I thought Super Bowls were created to be held near palm trees or Bourbon Street. Oops. The NFL now doles out Super Bowls to cities as rewards for being good club members, primarily for constructing massive, high-comfort stadiums that serve as shrines to the league itself.

Thus, if Soldier Field had been rebuilt properly a few years ago, rather than being made small, tight, without a roof and appearing as though a huge alien toilet seat landed on Stonehenge, we already would have had a Super Bowl here.

◆ BEARS LINEBACKER Brian Urlacher told HBO’s ‘‘Real Sports” that he has no problem dropping his drawers and getting a regular pregame shot of the pain-killer and anti-inflammatory drug Toradol, nor does he care about concussions. He said he would lie to trainers if he suffered a concussion in a game.

‘‘I’m going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays,” he said. ‘‘I’m not going to .  .  . say I’ve got a concussion. [Then] I can’t go in there the rest of the game.”

I guarantee you Urlacher already has ignored concussion symptoms. So have probably all of his teammates. Interior linemen suffer minor head blows on almost every play. Running backs, defensive backs, fullbacks all get dinged.

I have seen Bears cornerback Charles Tillman on the ground, clearly dazed, then watched him slowly rise, take his position and not miss a play. Same with linebacker Lance Briggs. And so on down the ranks.

So the question is, should we care more about the players’ safety than they do?

Said Urlacher of disregarding brain trauma: ‘‘First of all, we love football. .  .  . It may be stupid; it may be dumb. Call me dumb and stupid, then, because I want to be on the football field.”

So if you are thrilled to watch the NFL, as am I, then you – and I – are giving, by extension, our endorsement to the process that causes brain damage to men such as Urlacher.

Just so you know.

◆ CONCUSSIONS IN THE NHL are simply overwhelming.

The best player in the world, Sidney Crosby, basically has been out for more than a year with post-concussion symptoms.

But there are lesser players everywhere who are out or have missed significant time because of concussions: Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, Kris Letang, Marc Staal, Jeff Skinner, Milan Michalek, etc.

In December, hockey agent Allan Walsh told the Canadian Press he thinks the NHL is in ‘‘the throes of a concussion epidemic.” The league denies it and says there’s nothing more it can do to protect heads.

Any changes to make skaters’ brains safer would ‘‘change the game fundamentally,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. ‘‘Bottom line is, [concussions are] a fact of life in a contact sport, not just ours, and they continue to be a fact of life.”

I disagree. Make contact from the neck up illegal in the NHL. All of it. In my view, that doesn’t change the game at all, except for thugs.

◆ GOLF!

Everybody’s gonna play it! Tiger Woods and the democratization of the sport have made everybody want in!

Not.

Golf as a participatory sport in the United States is way, way down. Golf memberships in private clubs have dropped by a million since the early 1990s.

In the last five years, the number of golfers in the United States has dropped 13 percent. Of course, the recession has taken its toll. But it doesn’t look as though baby boomers are going to endorse golf the way Frank Sinatra did.

‘‘We’re entering a new normal,” Pete Halter, the chairman of the Atlanta-based Halter Co., which advises golf-course developers, told USA Today. ‘‘We can’t think this will be over soon. Things have changed for good.”

Me, I’ll be mowing the lawn. Golf always has been too painful mentally to call fun.

◆ GRUNTING IN TENNIS – well, I won’t dignify it by calling it grunting. Screeching, whining, screaming, moaning or shrieking as though you have received an ice pick in the ear hole, it’s stupid, repulsive and even unfair.

Players such as Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic have started to complain.

‘‘I think the [officials] could cut it,” Wozniacki said recently at the Australian Open.

Screeches by women’s players have been measured at more than 100 decibels, noise comparable to a fully engaged jackhammer.

There’s a hindrance rule on the books that should be thrown like a book at the howlers.

Or let the fans screech like idiots, too.

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