Bears kicker Cairo Santos trained at a rundown park in offseason to replicate field conditions at Soldier Field


(Audacy) The history and tradition of Soldier Field aside, the field itself has long been a problem, as it's known to have patches of dead grass, uneven footing and hazardous clumps, among other areas of concern.

Add in subfreezing temperatures and a steady diet of lake-effect snow later in the regular season, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, especially for kickers like the Bears' Cairo Santos, who recently bemoaned the treacherous conditions at Solider Field -- despite it only being August.

“I’ve seen better,” Santos said, according to the Sun-Times. “It’s just what we have to deal with. The less of a problem you make it in your mind, it helps you overcome it and just go.”

Now entering his third full season in Chicago, Santos has learned to live with Soldier Field's imperfections, and he even went to unusual lengths in the offseason to replicate its playing surface as he trained.

“I was going to a turf field at a high school, which was perfect,” said Santos, who trains in Florida during the offseason. “It was almost like, ‘OK, I’m getting too comfortable.’ In my neighborhood, there’s a soccer field and the grass is Bermuda grass. It’s real long. I was like, ‘OK. This is more like it.’”

Some might argue the relative disarray is part of Soldier Field’s blue-collar charm, presenting a challenging environment for all involved. Still, it’s somewhat alarming that Santos would compare an NFL facility to a run-of-the-mill public park -- and not a particularly well-maintained one at that. For all his gripes about Soldier Field, Santos fared relatively well there in 2021, going 9-for-11 on his field-goal attempts (81.8%), with a long of 44 yards.

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