No Bears or Colts starters? No problem. NFL has an alternative revenue stream in waiting

USA Today

No Bears or Colts starters? No problem. NFL has an alternative revenue stream in waiting

First, a sort of p.s. for last week’s column questioning some of the aspects of the Bears not playing starters, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in particular. Not every reader liked the conclusions. No worries; here’s an alternative anyway.

An overarching point of the column is that as utterly useless as the current preseason structure is, games specifically, until it’s fixed, i.e., done away with, it’s what the Bears and rest of the NFL have to deal with. The offense’s mediocrity wasn’t simply for want of preseason reps. But until the NFL gets its preseason right, it is what it is. Tom Brady played. Drew Brees played. Kirk Cousins played (badly). Jared Goff didn’t. Patrick Mahomes played. Baker Mayfield played. Kyler Murray played. Cam Newton played. Dak Prescott played. Aaron Rodgers didn’t. Matt Ryan played. Matthew Stafford played. Mitchell Trubisky didn’t. Deshaun Watson played. Jameis Winston played.

Anyway, moving on from all that… .

Maybe the solution lies in exactly what teams and players are concluding to be more useful (and safer) than games: Joint practices.

The sticking point with doing away with preseason games is money. Period. So maybe joint practices in stadiums with admission charged is a way to go.

The Bears can draw 20,000 to a Soldier Field practice that’s basically just a walk-through. Repeating: The issue for owners and the league is money. Well, if the NFL can package and market the 40’s, bench-presses and cone drills of the Scouting Combine for television and sell seats, it can certainly package three days of, say, Bears-Colts practices for television and revenue-generating attendance. Think Tom Brady vs. Bears D for three days would fill Soldier Field and fill an hour or two on NBC Sports Chicago that evening?

And frankly, if a game of 2’s and 3’s were tacked on at the end, fine. The Bears used to have a rookie scrimmage with the Browns on their final Platteville Saturday.

Preseason now consists of four games (using the term loosely). Three days of joint practices against, say, the Ravens and three against perhaps the Broncos makes for not four, but six revenue generators. Could they draw lower interest or viewership than preseason games one or four, as presently constituted? Hardly.

Scheduling? The first three-practice set falls in what currently is the first preseason game week. The second three come in what’s now the third week.

The Bears held joint practices in Platteville with the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick and with the New Orleans Saints. If Platteville can host entire visiting teams… . Chicago, surely you could come up with team lodging for a couple days? Indianapolis got it done.

Joint practices, which come with built-in controls simply because they’re not game intensity, are the alternative. The Bears set up joint practices in Indianapolis, New England and Denver over the past four preseasons, all in the normal second preseason week (third last year because of a Hall of Fame game). This year that didn’t happen because it couldn’t be worked out with the Giants facilities.

But this year’s third game was at Indy, a city set up for Super Bowls and for joint practices. Maybe it’s too close to the regular season, but if they weren’t going to play in Saturday’s game, Trubisky and the offense working against the Colts in several practices is exactly what he and they needed. Put those in Lucas Oil Stadium, sell tickets and televise the work.


Anybody else think it at least a little bit amusing/bemusing that a little while before Eddy Piniero was drilling a 58-yard field goal, Kaare Vedvik, the kicker for whom Minnesota outbid the Bears in a trade this month, not only missed his first two field goals as a Viking, but also missed one of those kicks from 43 yards?

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Bears to don throwback helmets Sunday against Giants

Bears to don throwback helmets Sunday against Giants

The Bears are throwing it back to the past this weekend at Soldier Field.

The Bears will rock 1960s throwback helmets Sunday when they take on the New York Giants. The helmet is navy blue and features a white "C" logo and gray facemask, whereas the current helmet has an orange "C" and white facemask.

A look at the throwback lid:

The Bears donned those helmets from 1962-72 during the playing days of  Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, now Hall of Famers. They won the 1963 NFL Championship along the way.

“I think a lot of Bears fans remember the ‘60s, especially the ’63 championship team winning at Wrigley against the Giants with those ‘Cs’ on our helmet,” Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said. “And of course Butkus and Sayers and all the great memories they provided. That small change I think means a lot to people.”

As 2019 is the Bears' 100th season as a franchise, they've been honoring a different decade at each home game. The Bears have also installed seven-foot tall bobbleheads around Chicago each week featuring players from that week's celebratory decade.

Unsurprisingly, this week's game will celebrate the 1960s, with Butkus and Sayers represented in life-size bobblehead form:

The Bears will give out bobbleheads of Butkus and Sayers to the first 20,000 fans who arrive at Sunday's game.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Mitch Trubisky practiced in full on Thursday

Mitch Trubisky practiced in full on Thursday

As Chicago continues to analyze Mitch Trubisky’s hip and figure out if his benching was actually injury related or performance related, the injury report from practice makes it seem like he should play on Sunday.

Trubisky was a full participant in practice on Thursday, just as he was on Wednesday. Back-to-back full practices would seem to indicate he should be full go for Sunday’s game against the Giants.

If not, then chaos will ensue.

As for the rest of the injury report, offensive lineman Bobby Massie was not limited with his back injury while linebacker Isaiah Irving was limited with a quad injury.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.