Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields suggested that games mean more to the players who risk their health and put in the physical and mental work needed to compete at the highest level than they do to the fans who watch, but he had to clarify what he meant after social media reaction to said comments.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin shared the clarification Fields made during a Wednesday press conference:
"What I meant by that is I'm talking about work regarding the game on Sunday, winning the game. I don't know any fans. I don't know what they're doing in their personal lives. I respect every fan that we have. I'm glad that we have fans. I would never disrespect anybody on what they do or what they love to do. It came off like that. Some social media outlets, they quoted my quote and they got a big buzz out of it. So, of course they did a great job doing that. Of course social media is going to do that. But I just wanted to clear that up."
Chicago lost to the rival Green Bay Packers on Sunday, and Fields was asked if it was more painful than a typical loss because of how much that matchup means to Bears fans.
"It hurts more in the locker room than the Bears fans," he said Sunday. "At the end of the day, they aren't putting in any work. I see the guys in the locker room every day. I see how much work they put in. Coming out of a disappointing loss like this, it hurts."
As Cronin explained, "video of those comments that did not contain the question that was presented to Fields circulated on Twitter," leading to some criticism that the quarterback didn't care about the fans.
From a football perspective, Sunday's loss was a disappointing development for the Bears for multiple reasons.
They were unable to build on their Week 1 upset victory over the San Francisco 49ers and fell to an ugly 3-22 in their last 25 matchups with the rival Packers. Fields attempted just 11 passes in the loss after he threw 17 in the win over the 49ers.
There is some necessary context to the low number of passing attempts, as the season opener was played in torrential rains that soaked the field and limited the ability to throw downfield. And Chicago found success on the ground against Green Bay with David Montgomery averaging 8.1 yards per carry.
"If I threw zero passes and we won the game, I wouldn't have any problems," Fields said. "Our goal as a team, as an offense, is to win games. Nobody's looking at how many passes did I have, how many yards did I have. We're just all trying to win the game."
Still, there is something to be said for how necessary it is for Fields to develop his individual game.
Chicago has long been searching for a franchise quarterback, and Fields' ability to become one is far more important than almost anything else this season. After all, the Bears likely don't have enough talent to compete for a playoff spot in 2022, and knowing the quarterback's long-term ceiling may become the best way to help build a contender.
Perhaps that will lead to more pass attempts Sunday when Chicago looks to improve to 2-1 with a win over the Houston Texans.