TAMPA, Fla.--Let the debate about the playing surface at Soldier Field continue.
The NFL Players Association released its 2008 Playing Surfaces Opinion Survey Thursday and once again the Bears' homefield did poorly.
The leaguewide survey conducted during team meetings between September and November named Soldier Field the fourth-worst grass playing field in the NFL, ahead of only Pittsburgh, Oakland and Miami. The three best were Arizona, Tampa Bay and San Diego. It wasn't just road teams that were dogging the surface. Bears players chose Soldier Field as the worst grass surface in the league.
Fifty-two Bears players responded to the question what do you attribute the condition of your game field to?
21 (40.4 percent) replied the grounds crew, which is a joint operation between the team and the Chicago Park District, which runs the stadium
5 (9.6 percent) replied the stadium manager, which would be the park district
18 (34.6 percent) replied ownership
2 (3.8 percent) replied all of the above
6 (11.5 percent) replied not applicable
The team's grounds chief Ken Mrock scored high marks as 81.6 of the responders reported that they "strongly valued" the work of their grounds crew on game and practice fields. There were 12.2 percent that responded they ``somewhat valued'' the work and no one replied that they "did not value" the work.
The survey is done every two years by the NFLPA and it shows how the field has gotten worse. Here is how the Bears' homefield stacked up in the past:
2006 5th worst grass field
2004 18th worst field (there was no distinction between turf and grass prior to 2006)
2002 15th worst field (Memorial Stadium in Champaign)
2000 7th worst
1998 7th worst
1996 9th worst
1994 6th worst