Bears claim league granted permission to kick from 30 vs. Bills

The Chicago Bears' decision to kick off from the 30-yard line Saturday night wasn't just sour grapes.

Bears special teams coach Dave Toub claims the NFL granted the team approval to kick from the 30, so it did so before discovering that the league had changed its mind, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

The Bears lined up Robbie Gould's first and second kickoffs against the Buffalo Bills at the 30 instead of the 35, as called for in the NFL's new kickoff rule.

"We talked to the NFL beforehand during the offseason, and they said it was going to be OK. So that's why we did it," Toub said Monday at Bears training camp.

"I guess it came down from New York. They got word that we can't kick from the 30, and then we just went back to the 35 after that. We thought we could do it. We thought we were clear with it. We told the officials ahead of time that is what we were going to do. They were fine with it. That's why we kicked from the 30. We were just trying to evaluate our kickoff team. You don't get any evaluation when you kick touchbacks. That's what preseason is for -- it's about evaluation and finding who can cover kicks. That's all we were trying to do."

However, league spokesman Greg Aiello told NFL.com and NFL Network: "We are not aware of any such approval being given."

Fox Sports also reported that when told of the kickoffs, NFL vice president of officiating Carl Johnson called Soldier Field and ordered officials to "put a stop to it."

Six teams voted against the rule change at the owners meetings in March, and the Bears are believed to be among them. However, the league hopes the change improves safety.

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