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When the 2022 NFL season got underway in Chicago on Sunday, conditions were extremely wet. The Windy City was more like the rainy city because it was a torrential downpour overnight and into the hours leading up to kickoff. (Thank you, I’ll be here all week)
Because of the significant precipitation, every inch of the stadium was soaked. It wasn’t wet, it wasn’t damp.
Soldier Field was flooded. It was underwater and the team had to use squeegees to try and get the surface to a condition suitable for play.
As a result, the turf was a complete and utter mess. A steady drizzle continued throughout the first half and certainly didn’t help.
The wacky weather ended up proving extremely costly. Well, it wasn’t necessarily Mother Nature’s fault.
Chicago sent out its kickoff team late in the first half to try and get its first points of the game on the board. It wasn’t a short kick, but it was doable.
However, a bizarre penalty pushed the Bears out of field goal range.
The Chicago Bears Were Given An Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty For “Illegal Use Of Towel.”
As the Chicago special teams unit lined up for the kick, punter Trenton Gill served as the holder. To try and ensure that the ball would stay firm when planted, he brought out a towel and used it to soak up some of the water off of the field.
That move, apparently, is illegal. The Bears accrued a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for illegally using the towel to dry the field during the dead ball period.
To my knowledge, and based off of a very quick search, this is the first time in NFL history that a team has received such a penalty. And to make matters worse, it took the team out of field goal range and it had to punt. Brutal.