Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it. Well, maybe the Bears do.
With game-time temperatures predicted to be at perhaps historic lows, the Bears practiced outside on Thursday.
“It was probably as close to what we think the game conditions will be, so it was kind of good to get the guys out there, get the proper footwear and clothing,” said coach John Fox, then conceding, “but it was a little chilly.”
Wind is more of a factor than cold in games. Usually. Brutal cold, however, is its own factor. Michael Vick once effectively quit in a 2005 game (coincidentally, also on Dec. 18, like Sunday’s Bears-Packers game) at Soldier Field that was inexplicably scheduled at night along the lakefront. Wind chill started at minus-3 at kickoff, and Vick wanted no part of the moment, at one point hurling the football at Brian Urlacher after the Bears linebacker had planted the Atlanta quarterback in the frozen turf in a game that saw Vick suffer to the fifth-lowest passer rating of his 143-game NFL career.
Bears players have their own plans for cold-management. Or not:
-- Quarterback Matt Barkley: “Probably [wearing sleeves], yeah. I’m not a polar bear.”
-- Coach John Fox: “One of the things I've shared is hydrate. A lot of people don't understand. I've seen a lot of guys cramp in cold-weather games and sometimes they don't hydrate either during the game or prior to the game as much. The common thought is it's just the humidity in the hot weather. But when you're wearing so much clothing and your body sweats like it does I've seen a lot of guys cramp in really cold games.”
-- Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery: “I don’t think the weather really matters… .I could (not) care less how cold it is. I’ve played in colder games.”
-- Linebacker Pernell McPhee: “I ain't wearing sleeves. As a D-lineman, as a front-seven guy, as a guy who plays defense, I think it's a sign of weakness, but I ain't wearing no sleeves.”
-- Guard Josh Sitton: “Stay by the heater all the way until the timeout’s over; don’t go on the field early.”
-- Considering that Barkley is from southern California, Jeffery is from South Carolina, and McPhee and Sitton are from Florida, Sunday’s game could be as much an exercise of adaptive skills as football skills.
Sitton played the first eight years of his NFL career with the Packers, whose Lambeau Field has been the scene of legendarily cold game days (“Ice Bowl”). He claimed to like Thursday’s outdoor practice, offering, “I’ve been playing in the cold for nine years now,” Sitton said, “so I think you can get used to it.”