Fitting way to open new Soldier Field

The Bears will make national prime time appearances in two of their first three games to open the 2003 season, playing road games at San Francisco (9/7) and <!--Default NodeId For Minnesota is 113,2005--><A HREF=>Minnesota</A> (9/14 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN) before christening the new Soldier Field against long-time division rival <!--Default NodeId For Green Bay is 114,2005--><A HREF=>Green Bay</A> on Monday Night Football, Sept. 29.

After playing 16 road last season the Bears comes back home to Chicago. The prospects of the inaugural season at the New Soldier Field excite head coach Dick Jauron.

"We're really excited about finished stadium and the progress that they've made has been unbelievable," said Jauron. "Everything about last year (in Champaign) was first class, but it was hard. It's a hard thing to do (to play 16 road games). So we're really excited about being back home."


ROAD OPENER: For only the fourth time in the last 20 years the Bears will begin their season on the road. In fact, since 1970, their last season-opening road win, the Bears have only opened away from home six times. The trend has reversed in recent years as the 2003 season-opener at San Francisco marks the third time in four years the Bears have opened a season away from home (2000 at Minnesota, 2001 at Baltimore). The Bears also begin the 2003 campaign with back-to-back road games for the first time since 2000.

TOUGH START: The Bears will play half their games against teams which posted a .500 or better record in 2002, facing Green Bay twice, Denver, Kansas City, New Orleans, San Francisco, San Diego and Oakland. In addition, the first four opponents (San Francisco, Minnesota, Green Bay and Oakland) combined for a 39-25 mark last season.

NINER OPENER: The Bears will open a season against the 49ers for the third time in franchise history. Chicago won the 1962 opener 30-14 before dropping a 52-24 decision to open the 1965 season. Chicago traditionally has opened the season with division rival Green Bay, facing the Packers 29 times (16-11-2 record) while the Vikings, who Chicago has opened with two of the last three seasons, rank second with five. The Bears have played Minnesota in one of the first two games of the season each year this decade.

SHOWTIME: After a four-year hiatus from Monday Night Football, the Bears return to the League's centerstage for the second consecutive season. Chicago's 47 all-time Monday night appearances rank eighth in the NFL behind Miami (67), Dallas (61), San Francisco (58), Oakland (55), Washington (51), Pittsburgh (50) and Denver (49).

PARADE OF CHAMPIONS: Three of Chicago's first four games will be against 2002 Division champions, traveling to NFC West champ San Francisco to open the campaign before hosting NFC North champion Green Bay (9/29) following a Week Three bye (9/21) and AFC West and Super Bowl XXXVII participant Oakland (10/5).

NETWORK COVERAGE: The Bears will play on each of the League's four television networks during the first four games of the season, playing on the NFC's FOX network in the opener at San Francisco, ESPN's Sunday Night Football at Minnesota in Week Two, followed by ABC's Monday Night Football in the inaugural game at the new Soldier Field against Green Bay concluded by CBS' coverage of the AFC when the Bears host AFC Champion Oakland on Oct. 5.

GOING WEST: After not playing on the West Coast since 2000, the Bears will venture to the Pacific coast with trips to San Francisco and Seattle in addition to heading west to face Denver and Kansas City. In the past two seasons, the Bears stayed close to the Mississippi, only going as far west as Minnesota in 2001 and St. Louis in 2002.

FREQUENT FLYER: The Bears will log nearly 13,000 air miles this season, amassing 12,876 miles in eight trips. Since 1995, the Bears have traveled more miles only twice, going 13,796 miles in 1999 (at Oakland, San Diego and Tampa Bay) and 13,016 (Miami, Tampa Bay, Dallas and New England) in 1997.

HEY STRANGER: The Bears will play in Seattle for the first time since 1984, snapping the longest road drought Chicago had against any team. The Colts inherit that title by virtue of the Oct. 19 match-up in Seattle. The last time the Bears played at Indianapolis was 1991.

HOMECOMING: Several Bears will experience homecomings of sorts this season. Former Niner R.W. McQuarters will face his former squad in the season-opener, Phillip Daniels will renew acquaintances in Seattle and Ted Washington, Keith Traylor and Desmond Clark return to Denver.

Saturday, August 9 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 7:05 pm NBC5 (WMAQ-TV)
Saturday, August 16 DENVER BRONCOS 7:05 pm NBC5 (WMAQ-TV)
August 20-24 (TBA) at Arizona Cardinals (TBA) NBC5 (WMAQ-TV)
August 27-31 (TBA) at New England Patriots (TBA) NBC5 (WMAQ-TV)
* Bears preseason home games will be played at Memorial Stadium in Champaign-Urbana

Sunday, September 7 at San Francisco 49ers 3:15 pm FOX
Sunday, September 14 at Minnesota Vikings 7:30 pm ESPN
Sunday, September 21 BYE
Monday, September 29 GREEN BAY PACKERS 8:00 pm ABC
Sunday, October 5 OAKLAND RAIDERS Noon CBS
Sunday, October 12 at New Orleans Saints Noon FOX
Sunday, October 19 at Seattle Seahawks 3:15 pm FOX
Sunday, October 26 DETROIT LIONS Noon FOX
Sunday, November 2 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS Noon CBS
Sunday, November 9 at Detroit Lions Noon FOX
Sunday, November 16 ST. LOUIS RAMS Noon FOX
Sunday, November 23 at Denver Broncos 3:05 pm FOX
Sunday, November 30 ARIZONA CARDINALS Noon FOX
Sunday, December 7 at Green Bay Packers Noon FOX
Sunday, December 14 MINNESOTA VIKINGS Noon FOX
Sunday, December 21 WASHINGTON REDSKINS Noon FOX
Sunday, December 28 at Kansas City Chiefs Noon FOX

Saturday, Sunday, January 3-4, 2004 AFC-NFC Wild Card Playoffs (ABC, CBS & FOX)
Saturday, Sunday, January 10-11, 2004 AFC-NFC Divisional Playoffs (CBS & FOX)
Sunday, January 18, 2004 AFC-NFC Championship Games (CBS & FOX)
Sunday, February 1, 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII, Houston, Texas (CBS)
Sunday, February 8, 2004 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, Honolulu, Hawaii (ABC)

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