Famed Soldier Field in Chicago, home of the NFL’s Bears and site of some of the most epic games in league history, will host Albany State and Kentucky State on Saturday in the 16th annual Chicago Football Classic.
WHO: Albany State (1-3) at Kentucky State (1-2).
WHAT: Rams’ fifth game of season, third on the road.
WHEN: 4 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Chicago, Ill.
RADIO: 98.1 FM.
UPDATES: Log onto: twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.
ALBANY — Ronnie Tubbs called it a “dream come true” when he stepped into Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis last season.
Now Saturday, when the Albany State receiver and his teammates step onto Soldier Field in Chicago, they’ll be trying to keep their dreams alive.
The Rams, who are on their first three-game losing streak in a decade, will play in an NFL stadium for the second year in a row Saturday when they face off against Kentucky State in the 16th annual Chicago Football Classic.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime to play at Soldier Field,” Tubbs said.
And it’s a chance for the Rams to breathe some life into a season that is gasping for air.
“It seems like we just keep on repeating ourselves, but we need a win,” defensive lineman Justin Blash said Wednesday. “We aren’t just hungry for a win. We are going there to get a win.”
It’s a game the Rams need to win, but that doesn’t mean they don’t plan on enjoying the trip, which started this morning at 3 a.m. when they boarded a bus to Atlanta and took an early flight to Chicago.
Blash, who has 19 tackles and two sacks this season, admits that he doesn’t know too much about Soldier Field or the history of the Chicago Bears, except for a certain rap song the Bears recorded prior to their Super Bowl XX victory.
“The thing I know about the Bears is their Super Bowl song,” Blash said, referring to Chicago’s famous “Super Bowl Shuffle” track recorded in 1985.
Blash hasn’t thought about making a “Super Bowl Shuffle” remix with his teammates and is instead “keeping composure and focusing on the game.” But if they were to make a music video, Blash knows exactly who would play the staring roles.
“(Defensive lineman) Troy Morgan would be the piano, and I think (offensive lineman) Darvel Nelson could do the rap,” Blash said. “(Defensive lineman) Arkeen Riley and Ronnie Tubbs would be our best dancers.
“Coach (Mike) White has a little two-step himself, but I think (running backs coach Kenyan) Conner would give him a run for his money.”
Starting running back Nathan Hoyte likes the idea.
“Jim McMahon had the rap portion, right?” Hoyte asked aloud, referring to the former Bears star quarterback. “If I had to do anything, I would go for the rapping portion over the singing portion.
“I know we have some singers on the team. There are some singers. I’m not sure who to pinpoint. I hear them singing, but I hear it and keep on moving. I’m not going to stand there and listen to one of my teammates just singing.”
Hoyte, a native of Waldorf, Md., is familiar with Soldier Field — which was originally constructed in the 1920s and rebuilt in 2003 — and knows his share of Bears history, including legendary running backs Gale Sayers and Walter Payton.
“These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, playing in Indianapolis and Soldier Field,” said Hoyte, who leads ASU in rushing with 338 yards and three TDs on 56 carries. “We are trying to take it in, but we are also going to make sure we get the win.”
CHILLY IN CHICAGO: Soldier Field will be nothing new to White or defensive backs coach Dan Land, who both played in the NFL after enjoying successful playing careers at Albany State.
And neither of them will forget their trips to the Windy City.
On Wednesday, they recalled those visits the coldest games they ever played.
“It was the coldest game I was ever a part of,” said White, who was drafted in the fourth round in 1979 by the Cincinnati Bengals and played until 1983 when he ended his career with the Seattle Seahawks. “There were some cold games in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, but I remember that one because it was the coldest. You were happy when the game was over. You just wanted to go stick your hands in warm water. People were doing stuff I had never heard of to stay warm, like wrapping their feet in plastic.”
White, a defensive lineman, played in Chicago in 1980 as a member of the Bengals and will never forget stepping into the locker room after the game.
“I remember a pipe or something busted when we came back into the locker room, and at the end of the game the floor was wet,” White said. “The heaters were out, and nobody took showers. We just got out of there.”
The story didn’t surprise Land, who was drafted as a running back by Tampa Bay in 1987 and played nine seasons in the secondary for the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders.
“Green Bay and Chicago are good at that,” said Land, who remembers heated benches and sideline heaters mysteriously not working on the visitor’s sideline. “I was standing next to (Raiders coach) Art Shell on the sideline during a game in Chicago, and ice was coming out of his nose. That was the coldest game I ever played in. I made an attempt to intercept a ball and it hit my hand. I couldn’t feel my hand. The feeling came back when we were halfway home on our flight.”
Land, who played against the Bears three times, also remembers the atmosphere at Soldier Field.
“It’s the fans,” he said when asked what made the trips so memorable. “They are like the Raiders fans. They want you to know that there is history behind the stadium. Just like the fans in Dallas, they will be there six hours before the game in the parking lot, waiting and ready. And I’m not talking about a few hundred, I’m talking about two or three thousand just out there in the parking lot tailgating in the freezing cold. It’s 10 degrees out, and they are out there playing football and grilling. Man, they are crazy.”
It’s forecasted to be sunny and in the 60s Saturday when the Rams take the field.
“Perfect football weather,” Land said.
If it was a little cooler, however, he knows the secret to keep warm.
“When we went to Chicago, we started dipping our finger tips in Vaseline and then wrapping them in saran wrap,” he said. That’s the secret. When we found that out, we were like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s on.’ Cold weather wasn’t a problem for me after that.”