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SportsMonday: Bears Owe Fans An Apology

Will the Bears even try to make it up to their fans?

They sold them a sham, charging full price (the Bears have adopted a priority pricing structure so fans will pay more this year for Packer tickets for instance but that is just added cost - the fundamental price for a Bears ticket is the one they charged fans on Saturday) for this year's second-to-last exhibition game. That is the one in which starters play at least a half in their dress rehearsal for the regular season.

And then the starters didn't play. And the owners of more than 43,000 tickets were screwed.

Matt Nagy is a rookie head coach. He doesn't know better than to sneakily announce late in the evening before this game that the starters won't play. He did that on Friday and the Bears kicked off against the Chiefs at noon on Saturday. I did not watch a play and I don't know what the score was.

General Manager Ryan Pace should have educated the rookie head coach. He should have told him to play the starters for a half. If he was too afraid, George McCaskey should have done it. No one who pays attention to the Bears at all was surprised that neither of them stepped up. Neither of them helped Matt Nagy understand that you shouldn't just up and stick it to the fans.

And don't try to tell me other teams did it (Aaron Rodgers didn't play so it is OK that Mitch Trubisky didn't play? Not quite a good comparison). Tom Brady played a half. Even ultra-injury prone Rob Gronkowski played a half. Ben Roethlisberger played. So did Drew Brees. If it was good enough for those guys of course it should have been good enough for Trubisky.

The NFL has acknowledged recently that it is worried about selling tickets to its games due to more and more viewers deciding that the best way to consume pro football is on their TV. The league is trying to add incentives for in-person fans.

But whatever might be happening on that front, it is more than outweighed by the asinine policy that requires season-ticket holders to buy tickets to crap exhibition games in addition to the tickets for regular season games. Hey NFL, this is easy. Try to work at least a little bit on a better plan. The first thing you could do - tomorrow - is to announce that next season teams will only play two official preseason games. It is not complicated.

These are pro football teams that started this season by each cashing a check for their portion of national television rights fees. Those fees totaled a staggering $7.8 billion in 2016 (the most recent numbers available) alone. That is $244 million per team. And that payment has only gone up since then. At the very least it was well over $250 million this season.

I think they can afford to cancel one home exhibition game.

Nagy tried to sell the mass sit-out as standard injury prevention. But the real problem here, and it is a bigger problem for the Bears than it is for virtually any other NFL team, is a crushing lack of depth. The general manager won't stop trading away draft picks and if this team has even one injury at several critical positions, it will be toast.

Always remember that in his second year at the helm (2017), Pace's moves left the Bears with five draft picks. The Packers, Lions and Vikings, who have all finished ahead of the Bears for four consecutive seasons now, averaged 10 picks each in that draft.

Good teams stockpile picks. Pace trades them away.

Finally there is the fact that Trubisky obviously hasn't played enough games. He got a season's worth in college and a fraction of a season's worth with the Bears last year. He needs any and all experience he can get under fire. He didn't get any on Sunday.

The funniest part is the fact that the Bears may be deepest at quarterback. Chase Daniel apparently looked great on Saturday. So maybe they don't have to worry about an injury at that position - or at least they don't have to worry about it as much as they have to worry about it elsewhere.

In the end, the main thing is the Bears should do something to say they are sorry. Not bloody likely.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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