Many folks -- ourselves included -- believe the Hall of Fame Game featuring the Rams and Bears will be the first victim of the lockout, which we think is near death. (In fact, CBSSports.com's Clark Judge recently urged the NFL to cancel the game, just to make things easier.)
So a report Friday from Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times that "word is out among key figures" of the Bears organization that the Hall of Fame Game is canceled doesn't seem too far-fetched.
“The dream is over,’’ one source said. “They had to throw one away, and everybody knew it."
The NFL, however, is denying said report.
"There has been no change in the status of any games,'' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Friday.
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Now, even if the game was already essentially canceled, you wouldn't hear the NFL admitting as much, particularly when the thing that matters right now isn't scheduling a single preseason game, but making sure there's actually a season in 2011. Besides, if you ask Bears coach Lovie Smith, the teams don't need a full set of practices to get ready for the event anyway.
"If an agreement gets done and the NFL says we're going to play the game, we'll be ready," Smith said Friday, per Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. "Right now, we haven't been told that anything has been canceled."
Yeah, it's pretty unlikely that the NFL's issued a memo to the Bears or Rams about canceling the game. If that were the case, a) it'd be tough to deny it had been canceled.
More likely? There's a pervading sense of pessimism about playing the preseason content, and everyone in the Bears organization is picking up on that.
That's a reasonable vibe at this point, but as we've seen, the NFL and the players can move surprisingly fast with games on the line. And if the Rams and Bears are willing to take the field on short notice, it's still reasonable to see them line up on Aug. 7.
Unlikely, but reasonable.
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