Bears voice support for the NFL's decision

LAKE FOREST _ Although the Bears indicated a preference earlier this week to play Sunday's game with Jacksonville, they voiced almost complete support Thursday for the NFL's decision not to play games this week.

In the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks, the players union voted unanimously to recommend not playing.

``The country has never gone through something like this on our own soil,'' Bears player rep Glyn Milburn said. ``There's no playbook to really prepare yourself for this type of week.

``I think everyone has been affected by it, and football takes a back seat.''

The Bears will begin immediately looking at Minnesota film. They play the Vikings on Sept. 23 in what will now be the home-opener.

The NFL is trying to decide between playing the canceled games a week after the season ends and then shortening the playoff field to four teams per conference or playing a 15-game schedule, with San Diego playing 16 games.

When the Bears begin playing again, security will be tightened.

``In fact, Soldier Field was closed down early Tuesday morning,'' team president and CEO Ted Phillips said. ``The open gates have been manned 24 hours by security personnel. There's been on-going meetings now with Bears staff and park district staff about enhancing the security requirements and going forward. The details are still being worked out.

``But there will be increased security at Soldier Field. That's the way it needs to be and should be.''

The Bears still were without defensive tackle Ted Washington and running back Autry Denson as of Thursday. Both had gone home for visits on Monday after practice and could not return due to the ban on flying.

Washington failed to procure a rental car and would be flying back once flights started, according to coach Dick Jauron, while Denson was still en route by car Thursday.

Situations like those, as well as the fact that Washington and the two New York teams had not practiced Wednesday, in conjuction with the travel ban, made playing games a logistic nightmare, anyway.

``You have so many different variables that football takes a back seat to that,'' Milburn said.

However, that wasn't the main reason for canceling the games. The league simply deemed it inappropriate to play.

Wideout Marcus Robinson understood. On Wednesday, he had expressed the view games should go on. He changed his mind Thursday after reading newspaper accounts of one doomed plane.

``There was a little girl and her mom on the plane,'' Robinson said.

``They were supposed to be going to Disney World. I'm looking and thinking about my little girl and my wife.

``It was very sad.''

Quarterback Shane Matthews said there are plenty of heroes around even without football on television this weekend.

``You just sit back and you think about what's going on in New York City right now and you look at the firefighters and the policemen and everybody helping there,'' Matthews said of rescue workers. ``Those are the real people that should be role models for the kids.

``Sure, they want to look at professional athletes (on TV), but all we do... we just go out and play a game. But these people are trying to save people's lives and it's amazing. They're going in there trying to save people's lives and some of them are not coming out.''

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