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Soldier Field has third-worst playing surface in NFL, according to SI

After multiple instances in which the Bears had to replace their home-field turf last season, Soldier Field’s playing surface was named the third-worst in the NFL by Sports Illustrated.

The grass surface in Chicago had to be resodded three times last year after an entirely new field was installed prior to the Bears’ first preseason game, according to a previous Chicago Sun-Times report.

From Sports Illustrated:

The Kentucky Bluegrass in Chicago doesn’t have the ownership backing it needs to keep the cool-season grass replenished all season long. The lack of commitment can render this field tough for NFL players late in the season, a constant point of contention year after year. Kicker Robbie Gould even complained about his own team’s field during a radio interview in 2012, saying it had sunk to new lows.

“For some reason this season, and I don’t know whose job it is, and I love our guys in the Chicago Bears organization that takes care of our fields, but I want to know this year who decided to keep the field so soft that it’s been tore up the entire year,” Gould said on “Football Night in Chicago” on ESPN 1000. “Let’s put it to you this way: 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, and I just might roll a tarp out on the field before the game.”

Gould even suggested the field might affect his thought process during free agency.

“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, via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “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.

He later apologized for his comments.

Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips said on the Kap and Haugh Show in 2014 that the organization would be willing to move to artificial turf on Soldier Field, but has since stuck with the grass surface.

Soldier Field used AstroTurf from 1971 until 1987, when the team switched back to natural grass.

The Arizona Cardinals topped Sports Illustrated’s list, followed by warm-weather teams Tampa Bay, Miami, San Diego and Carolina.

The only teams to rank worse than the Bears were the Bills and Texans.