As the NFL closes in on a labor agreement that will start the 2011 season, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Thursday that the Hall of Fame Game between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams has been canceled.
That means the Bears will not play an extra fifth preseason game Aug. 7. They were scheduled to face the Rams that night at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, before an NBC national television audience. But the Bears and Rams originally were scheduled to report to their respective training camps Friday and hold their first practices Saturday.
“Because we have Richard Dent being enshrined, it’s disappointing from that standpoint but probably the most fair given the circumstances of the offseason that every team starts training camp on the same day,” said Bears CEO Ted Phillips on the game’s cancellation.
Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher figured the Hall of Fame Game would be called off.
“It’s a preseason game. It doesn’t mean anything,” he told the Tribune on Thursday after Goodell’s announcement. “So that’s one less chance we have to get people hurt.
“I definitely respect the Hall of Fame and all that stuff, but, again, it doesn’t mean anything. I’m not mad one bit about it being canceled.”
The Hall of Fame released a statement Thursday night of disappointment over the game’s cancellation.
“Obviously, the loss of this year’s game will have a significant adverse economic impact on the Hall of Fame and the Canton community,” the statement read. “We believe, however, that the long-term stability this new agreement will provide will be beneficial not only to the league and the players, but to the fans and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
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