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Chalk Talk


Chalk Talk: Why did using towel result in 15-yard penalty?


Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on

Why was the Bears punter penalized for bringing a towel on the field? I've seen other players do that, especially for field goals, without getting flagged.
Robert W.
Lake in the Hills, Illinois

Rookie holder Trenton Gill was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in Sunday's soggy season opener because he used the towel to try to sop up some of the standing water where he was going to place Cairo Santos' 47-yard field goal attempt late in the first half of the Bears' 19-10 win over the 49ers. We've all seen players bring towels on the field to dry their hands. Some centers back in the day would have towels hanging out of the back of their pants so the quarterback could dry his hands before taking the snap. But Gill was penalized because drying off the field would provide "an unfair advantage." In an interview with a pool reporter after the game, referee Clay Martin explained the call, saying: "You cannot bring what we consider a foreign object – this was not a towel that would go on a uniform – out to alter the playing surface. We felt that provided an unfair advantage, using the towel to wipe down the area where the ball was going to be placed … If he used it to wipe his hands and had thrown it away, we would have been okay with it. To put it on the ground and alter the playing surface where we were going to spot the ball, that's why we called a penalty."

How worried should we be about Cairo Santos missing two extra point attempts against the 49ers?
Steven B.
Glenwood, Illinois

I'm not concerned at all. With a downpour flooding the field midway through the second half, Cairo Santos was basically kicking out of a kiddie pool. So I don't think you can read anything into that at all. He did take responsibility for the misses after the game. But like I said, I don't blame him at all. Here's what he said in the locker room: "It was challenging. Every time I planted my foot, [it was] sinking in standing water. So just challenging. It's my job to execute and I didn't do that. I'm disappointed how my kicks went in the game. It's not how I envisioned it based on how the warmups went. I thought I handled that good. Sometimes it's just like that and I've got to bounce back." I've seen some people on Twitter mention that the 49ers' Robbie Gould made both of his kicks—an extra point and field goal—but they were both before the field conditions worsened late in the third quarter.

It was interesting to me to see Justin Fields wearing gloves in the wet conditions. I was wondering if you knew what went into his decision to do so.
Henry P.

Knowing that Sunday's forecast called for steady rain, Bears quarterback Justin Fields did some experimenting during the week in practice and found that he liked wearing gloves. Here's what he told reporters after the game: "I knew it was going to rain, so earlier in the week, I was practicing throwing the wet balls with gloves and I just kind of liked how it felt with the gloves. I tried to go no gloves the first or second series, but the ground was just so wet. It wasn't even raining, but the ground was just so wet from the rain earlier that it was just safer to go with the gloves."

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