Bears Unsure How Imitating PGA Tour Would Work
Over the weekend the U.S. sport scene got a chance to see sports without the fans.
At Colonial, Daniel Berger won the Charles Schwab Challenge in a playoff over Collin Morikawa on a missed 3-foot par putt.
There was no one to applaud the first-place trophy winner.
A few fans along the fence line had shown up but that was about it.
The NFL faces the prospect of playing its games without fans due to the COVID-19 crisis. On Monday reports from NFL Network said the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans have players who have tested positive, and this is before any type of actual workouts begin.
How the league's protocols for handling COVID-19 work is anyone's guess, but it would appear games will need to be handled for fans like the golf tournament last weekend.
"If that's the case, if that's the scenario that happens, then we'll be prepare for it," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "There are different ways to prepare for that. We have plans for that. It will definitely be different. That's one of the things that we all enjoy. We enjoy the fans. But health and safety is No. 1 and whatever they tell us–I'm sure there are a lot of teams that are thinking that if that is the case how will you go about preparing for that.
"We're definitely in a unique situation. But we are trying to dot our Is and cross out Ts as much as we can. But that a scenario we are definitely talking about."
There has been no official statement from the league on keeping fans away, but many of the states with teams remain on recovery programs designed to keep crowds to 100 or less for the time being.
In Illinois, the Bears are in a recovery zone where crowds of 10 or less are allowed at the moment, although this has been relaxed in some cases. The next step is gatherings of 50 or less near the end of July. A special dispensation might allow them to start training camp, but putting fans into Soldier Field would be an entirely different matter.
It wouldn't be totally strange for kicker Eddy Pineiro because he goes to an empty Soldier Field to kick for practice at least once a week before home games. Then again, that's just practice.
"I don’t think I've ever played a game without any fans," Pineiro said. "I think that it would be weird because you're so used to running out in the stadium and having people cheer and stuff like that, but I couldn't tell you. I don't know, I've never done it before."
The Bears last year got their kickers prepared for the season with a practice of "Augusta Silence." They brought kickers out during the middle of practice and let them try a field goal in hushed silence without teammates talking. It was an eerie silence, but this also was practice and not a game.
Running back Tarik Cohen thinks the practice situation might be difficult as far as meeting COVID restrictions.
"And playing in the stadium, I wouldn't have a problem with it because in college when we had in-team scrimmages and you have to play your team and there's no crowd out there, they're still trying to hit you," Cohen said. "You still have to play the game. We'll get over that pretty soon.
"Beginning of the game probably will look weird, sound weird. But then as soon as the whistle blows, the refs are out there, everybody's out there trying to tackle you, it's going to feel like a regular game."