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Tailgate

Football Fri May 15 2015

Youth Football has a Concussion Problem

the mashBy Katie Karmin & Charlie Connelly

From the first days of peewee ball to the stadium lights of the high school field, it's abundantly clear that physical harm is a reality of football. For years, it was just "the norm" for adolescents and young adults to break a bone or suffer a concussion here and there. If a young player was injured, odds were they had been playing their hardest out on the field, and that was glorified.

Today, much of America's youth has been born into the luxury of protection. From more effective airbags to an actual bomb detection shield in Israel, safety has never been as advanced as it is today. But within that world, football is taking new hits for the harm it poses to players' health.

Continue reading this entry »

Tailgate

Review Fri Jan 09 2015

Review: 73-0! Bears Over Redskins: The NFL's Greatest Massacre

BearsBook.jpgIt was 28 days before Virginia Halas's 18th birthday, and her father, Bears owner and head coach George Halas, was about to lead his team onto the frigid field of Griffith Stadium in the nation's capital to battle Washington for the league title. The country was at a tipping point and about a year away from entering another World War, while the economic decline of the previous 10 years that crippled so many families was slowly beginning to reverse.

The world was a little different back then, but with the exception of leather helmets and god knows what other flimsy protective equipment was available on the gridiron 75 years ago, the game of football still remains the same today: 11 men on each side of the ball, trying to cross the pigskin across the goal line for six points, all within the span of 60 minutes. That and a little trash talking.

The Bears were 8-3 and already had three world titles under their belt from 1921, 1932 and 1933. Washington was 9-2 and previously had beaten the Bears earlier in the regular season by the final of 7-3. Redskins owner George Preston Marshall made the mistake of running his mouth after the game, calling Halas's crew a bunch of whiners and crybabies. What happened next is captured perfectly in Lew Freedman's new book, 73-0! Bears Over Redskins: The NFL's Greatest Massacre.

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Jim Crago

Bears Mon Dec 01 2014

Thanksgiving Was a Welcome Distraction from the Bears

Chicago BearsI hate it when the Bears play on Thanksgiving. In general, I like the idea of pro football being on television throughout the turkey-filled holiday, but I also enjoy not caring about the games that are on so I can worry about the food I'm consuming. Oh yeah, I like talking to my family, too.

When the schedule originally came out, I saw the Bears' Thanksgiving game and immediately began trying to figure out how I was going to watch it. A divisional matchup at 11:30am on a day where my wife and I have a massive lunch with my family, followed by a two-hour drive and supper with her family, was something I had to plan in advance for.

My dad has a three-and-a-half inch battery powered television that he used to take with him the one day a year he'd sell tickets at the county fair, but that's been rendered obsolete now that all stations broadcast digital signals only. I could probably stream the game on my tablet, but that would require a strong wireless internet connection at the church we have our lunch at. No such luck.

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Chad Ruter

Bears Wed Nov 12 2014

Bears Should Shuffle Roster with Season All but Lost

Chicago BearsThe focus for the Bears has to be on the future. A second consecutive embarrassing loss in which they gave up more than 50 points has ended any playoff consideration in an NFC that would even see the Packers miss the postseason if it started today.

Losing to Green Bay like the Bears did on Sunday Night Football should have made heads roll -- though maybe not Marc Trestman's because there isn't an obvious replacement in the house. Mel Tucker should've been let go in his own right, and Joe DeCamallis hasn't earned any sort of interim promotion either. Aaron Kromer was 2-4 with a loaded Saints team in 2004, and it would probably cause problems if you jumped quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh up ahead of Kromer.

If the coaches aren't going to change, then the players should. No, Jay Cutler isn't getting benched. He's played terrible football this season because of numerous factors, a major one being questionable coaching and play calling. An example: the Bears have dialed up just 68 play action passes this season, good for 20th in the NFL. This is despite having one of the best running backs in the league. Of those 68 dropbacks, Cutler has been able to throw 67 passes, meaning he's been sacked or scrambled just once on those plays. Miss those quick slants that moved the ball quickly and efficiently last year? Me too, but Cutler's financially linked to the Bears for two more full seasons. That boat has already set sail.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (2)

Bears Fri Oct 17 2014

Should the Bears Consider Some New Starters?

Chicago BearsIt's very difficult for a starter to get supplanted in-season. There typically has to be an injury involved, lack of improvement, solid play by replacements or some combination of all three.

The Bears have dealt with each of those this year. A season-ending injury to Charles Tillman forced rookie Kyle Fuller into playing every down instead of just the nickel packages. The nickel corner is essentially a starter in today's three-receiver NFL, which meant that Isaiah Frey was the next man up. Frey didn't play well in the three games he subbed in, and showed no improvement from his full season of play last year. The Bears had depth behind him in Sherrick McManis, Demontre Hurst, and Al Louis-Jean, so Frey got cut and Hurst stepped in. McManis might end up as the nickel once he's healthy, but it was one of the rare occurrences where the starter got the axe.

That's not the only spot where there's been injuries, starter struggles, and successful backups though. Some folks have called for new blood at a few positions, and there are a few legitimate arguments to be made. Here's a breakdown of those debates, and what the Bears should consider doing.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (1)

Bears Wed Oct 15 2014

Trestman Costs Bears Points With Time Mismanagement

Chicago BearsNFL head coaches don't always evolve. Sometimes they're too stubborn, or too stupid, or simply get fired before they ever get the opportunity to grow.

Marc Trestman has evolved in a few ways. He's learned that you can't stop Brandon Marshall from doing what he wants, so your best course of action is to encourage him and don't direct any blame his direction. Trestman has learned that if a player isn't catching on after months of practice, that it's time to cut bait; they wouldn't have released Isaiah Frey a year ago because that's not what Phil Emery and Trestman did with a struggling player -- but they do now. The Bears stuck Willie Young on the field for 71 percent of the plays last Sunday, a stark increase from his breakout season average.

Then there was an event that happened just before the opening kickoff on Sunday that spoke volumes: the Bears won the toss and elected to receive. It's the first time that's happened in the Trestman era. He's said it many times, and he's right, that by deferring when you win the toss, you're far more likely to get an extra possession during the course of the game because of the way you can control the clock before halftime. But many have questioned why the Bears don't elect to receive, especially last season, when the defense was horrid. The idea around taking the ball is that you have a chance to score twice while the opponent can only score once in the first three possessions, and if everything breaks right, you could go up 14-0 while easing the pressure off your bloodied defense. Electing to receive against the Falcons was a great way to try and minimize the strain on three new starting linebackers. Though it didn't end up working, the decision was sound.

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Chad Ruter

Bears Fri Oct 10 2014

The Bears Are Missing the Deep Ball

Chicago BearsWith all 11 starters returning, a former Pro Bowl quarterback in his second year under someone nicknamed "The Quarterback Whisperer," two Pro Bowl receivers, a Pro Bowl running back and a dynamic tight end, the biggest question for the 2-3 Bears revolves around why the offense is struggling. The second-highest scoring unit in the NFL from 2013 has slipped all the way to 16th this year.

Sure, injuries have played more of a role this season, with Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson missing significant time, but that doesn't totally explain it because their backups have performed just as well as the starters. Brandon Marshall, who said he was supposed to miss four weeks with his leg injury, and Alshon Jeffery have been nicked up, but neither has missed more than a few series of snaps here and there. Jay Cutler missed significant time last year, and the team didn't miss a beat.

The answer may lie 20 or more yards down the field.

Continue reading this entry »

Chad Ruter

Bears Fri Oct 03 2014

Bears Catching Panthers at Just the Right Time

Chicago BearsInjuries happen all the time in the NFL. It would be wonderful if every team could run their best players out on the field on a weekly basis, but it's just not feasible in a game predicated on collisions. Playing teams at the right time during the year can have a drastic effect on the standings.

Last night's game between the Packers and the Vikings is a perfect example (of my point, and also that football on Thursday night after both teams played the previous Sunday is abhorrent). With Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater both sidelined with injuries, the Vikings were forced to go with third-stringer Christian Ponder, who doesn't belong on a professional football field any longer. The Packers took advantage of Ponder's plentiful mistakes, and left the Vikings in the dust before the first half was over. If Bridgewater were starting at quarterback, the game could've played out completely different.

The Bears are a team on the mend, for the most part. With the exceptions of Jermon Bushrod (injured knee in practice) and Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion setback), the team saw a lot of guys recover enough to practice this week. Brandon Marshall was a full participant, while Jared Allen, Roberto Garza, Matt Slauson and Sherrick McManis all returned on a limited basis. Slauson or Garza being able to play Sunday becomes even more important for the Bears with Bushrod's mysterious injury that could force Michael Ola to start at left tackle.

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Chad Ruter

Bears Mon Jan 06 2014

A Third Option for the Bears & Julius Peppers

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngJulius Peppers came to Chicago via a massive contract in 2010. His role was simple for someone with his athleticism and skill: wreak havoc on the opposing quarterback. It came easy to the (at the time) 30-year-old, who, despite being questioned early in his career as a guy who didn't play hard on every down, delivered with a season that garnered him a spot as a First-Team All-Pro.

He was exactly what that Bears team needed to make a run at the Super Bowl, and they were a half away from getting there. Lovie Smith's defenses were built around the front four getting to the quarterback without blitz help, and Peppers produced at the level he was paid.

Since then, the sack numbers have been there, but the consistency has tapered off. He recorded 11 and 11.5 QB takedowns in 2011 and 2012 respectively, but one stat doesn't tell the whole story. According to Pro Football Focus, after grading third in the NFL at 4-3 defensive end in 2010 (39.2), he dropped to 21.7 in 2011 and a meager 9.9 (18th ranked at 4-3 DE) in 2012 that required a massive run in the final four weeks to put him into the positives.

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Chad Ruter

Videogames Wed Dec 11 2013

Chicago Native Heading to Madden Championships

gamersshowdown.jpgGarfield Park native Chris Smith headed to Best Buy at 1000 W. North Ave. on Monday in search of the new Playstation 4. As is typical with the most popular system in a new console cycle, they're nearly impossible to track down. When a store gets them in stock, they typically sell out within a matter of minutes (thanks, Twitter). Try to buy them online, and the only way to secure one is to purchase a bundle of items that jacks the overall price up a few hundred dollars. Nonetheless, Smith was determined to find one.

The "Blue Shirts" at Best Buy told him they didn't have any in stock, but that they were hosting a Madden 25 tournament as part of the Ultimate Gamers Showdown on Tuesday, with promotional giveaways during the event that included multiple $50 gift cards, televisions, and best of all, a new XBox One along with a pair of Playstation 4s.

Smith has played Madden for the last six years, but he hadn't gotten a chance to play it on the new console just yet. He also hadn't participated in a tournament ever before. "My friends always told me I should enter one of these," he said. "I came here today hoping that at the least I'd get lucky and win one of the Playstations they were giving away."

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Chad Ruter

Bears Tue Nov 19 2013

Trestman Answers The Critics -- He Had A Plan

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngIf you've got a question, Marc Trestman has an answer. No, it won't be any of the petulant bullshit you get from a guy like Bill Belichick, it'll be long form, well thought out, courteous answers.

Despite winning Sunday's mess of a football game, Trestman had answering to do. Why the punt on 4th and 1 at the Ravens 44 with five minutes remaining in the game when he's gone for it in similar situations many times before? Why wasn't he calling timeouts during the Ravens final drive in regulation to preserve some clock? Why pass the ball five times on six plays inside the seven yard line? Trestman went into his typical Monday presser like the narrator in the old Radio Shack commercials.

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Chad Ruter

Bears Wed Nov 13 2013

Review: 100 Things Bears Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die

100-Things-Bears-Fans-Should-Know-Do-Before-They-Die-Paperback-P9781600784125.jpg Ask any Bears fan within a 50-mile radius of the 312 area code to expound upon their favorite memory he or she has about the Monsters of the Midway, and chances are they'll mention any one of the 100 items listed in Kent McDill's new book, "100 Things Bears Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die."

It's all in there, listed numerically in the contents section, seemingly ranked from most significant (#1. Papa Bear) to least (#100. Punters) and everything in between that everyone already should know, but, heck, should take the time to re-read and swell with emotion like a plumped-up brat sizzling away at a tailgate.

McDill, who covered the Bears from 1999 to 2007 for the Daily Herald, brings on Bears' radio play-by-play commentator Jeff Joniak to write the Foreword and mentions that the passion some 4.6 million Chicagoans feel for this team is a "generational bond, handed down from one decade to the next." To dig a little deeper into the psyche of the team-and-fanbase cohesive bond, the makeup of the Bears throughout the years embodies the hardworking, blue-collar approach that mirrors the day-in, day-out "Grabowskis" in the stands or at home watching and cheering along. We all are "Superfans" and this book is our reference point.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Thu Oct 03 2013

ESPN GameDay Comes To Northwestern For Battle Against Buckeyes

Northwestern_Wildcats.jpg After defensive lineman Quentin Williams sacked Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell at the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day, January 1, 2013, it sealed the first bowl win in over 60 years for the Northwestern Wildcats and made coach Pat Fitzgerald jump into the arms of a few of his players along the sideline, wiping away tears of joy and purple Gatorade. He had done it -- the former Wildcats linebacker had come back to his academic roots to lead his team to a bowl victory not seen since the Truman administration.

For the next few weeks, proud alumni dusted off their purple scarves, sweaters and ski caps and walked with a little extra giddy-up in their step to work, while flashing a wink and a nod at anyone in orange. Not since the Gary Barnett-led Cats of the mid-1990s has there been this much hype over a Northwestern team that, more times than not, has backed it up on the gridiron.

The offseason came, and with it began more work for coach Fitz in preparation for a follow-up act to the success of 2012 -- certainly a hard act to follow. Eventually, the new season kicked off and the Wildcats jumped to a 4-0 start with wins over Cal, Syracuse, Western Michigan and Maine, thus earning rank of sixteenth in the polls. But as in the university's motto, "Quaecumque Sunt Vera," ("Whatsoever things are true"), now begins a stretch run of the truest test of all: games against conference foes from within the Big 10. And at the onset of this tough test is the toughest of them all: the fourth-ranked Buckeyes of Ohio State.

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Jim Crago

Bears Mon Sep 16 2013

Devin Hester Proves Roster Spot Matters For Bears

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngDevin Hester will get strong consideration for the Hall of Fame once his career is over. He's the career leader in punt returns for touchdowns (12) along with combined return touchdowns (18, which includes five kick returns and a field goal return), and his direct impact on games used to strike fear in minds of countless coaches.

But that was the old NFL -- back when strict concussion policies and penalties for hitting defenseless receivers and blindsiding quarterbacks were turned into "Jacked Up" video montages on ESPN. Now the league is doing everything it can short of flat-out eliminating the kickoff return. All in the name of player safety.

With kickoffs moved up to the 35-yard-line, the number of touchbacks has skyrocketed in the NFL to the point of near extinction for a return specialist. Spots on the 53-man roster (and 45-man gameday roster) are incredibly valuable, and if your only contribution is returning kicks and punts, you better create a sense of danger to the opposition.

That's exactly what Hester did yesterday.

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Chad Ruter

College Teams Thu Sep 12 2013

Soldier Field Features College Football on Saturday: Illinois v. Washington

This weekend you'll be able to catch some college football in Chicago as Soldier Field plays host to Illinois vs. Washington on Saturday at 5:00 PM. (As much as Northwestern likes to market that they are Chicago's Big 10 team, they actually play in Evanston.)

According to fightingillini.com, there are 220,000 Illini alumni and 1.4 million Illini fans in the Chicago area. The University has marketed the event as "Chicago Homecoming" in hopes of getting Soldier Field packed with orange and blue. Illinois has not played in Chicago since November 2010 when they beat Northwestern at Wrigley Field. Since Soldier Field will allow teams to run both ways, it should provide for some decently exciting football.

The Illini are so far 2-0 after trouncing Cincinnati 45-17 last week in Champaign, which gave us Illini fans some hope for the game at Solider Field and the rest of the season.

Tickets are still available for the game starting at $30. Illini Fest, a free tailgate, will be held prior to the game from 1-4:30 PM on the Southeast Lawn of Soldier Field. Oh, and they are selling beer I've heard.

If that doesn't convince you to come out, then here's a video that made me all orange and blue and Chicago gushy.


Melinda McIntire

Football Fri Sep 06 2013

Where to Watch the Fighting Illini this Season

illini.jpgI love the Illini and I bleed orange and blue. I'm a 3rd generation U of I graduate, and this has left me with the unfortunate fate of cheering on a less than stellar football team, but nonetheless, I stay with 'em. There are a multitude of Illinois grads in this city, but for some reason, it feels as there are more Michigan and Florida bars than Illini ones (cough, cough..bandwagon...cough). If you share my fate of being an Illini fan, since our team won't be headed to the Rose Bowl or probably even a winning season, you'll at least need to know the bar options where you can watch in frustration or misery with cheap drinks (but have hope!). Here's my list of Illini bar options:

Joe's on Weed, 940 W. Weed St., joesbar.com

Joe's is where the Chicago Illini Club used to host their game watches. After doing some research, it seems as though the official game watches may be abandoned (also, way to be supportive, Chicago Illini Club). I give Joe's an official "eh" in my ratings. The service is so-so, the food isn't that great, but the beer is cheap. They feature $8 Coors Light pitchers on Saturdays, which isn't the worst. There are tons of huge screens, so the view of watching the game is pretty snazzy. You do have to share your space with the rest of the NCAA fans, and hope that the Illini are featured on the sound. Upon further investigation, it seems as though Joe's has turned into an Indiana bar this year, a team that may be even more pathetic than we are.

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Melinda McIntire

Baseball Thu Aug 08 2013

Review: From Black Sox to Three-peats: A Century of Chicago's Best Sports-writing from the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Other Newspapers

SportsBook.jpg The Chicago sports landscape is a vast space, reaching as far as the Quad Cities to Nashville, with legions of fans who stick with their teams through thick and thin. And much like that landscape in the middle of February, it is often dark and cold for what seems like an eternity, with no hope in sight. But once every so often, a beam of light shines through, melting away the ice and once again restoring hope for athletics in the Second City.

With so much drama and so many teams in the country's third-largest market, it became necessary for news outlets to canvas the city's north, south and west sides with sports writers, just as they crammed the courts and morgues with beat writers as early as they dawn of the newspaper.

Not much has changed from the mid-1800s, outside of how we receive our news, and in Ron Rapoport's newest book, From Black Sox to Three-peats: A Century of Chicago's Best Sports-writing from the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Other Newspapers, he allows the reader to take a trip back in time when sports gambling ruled outcomes of games, Babe Ruth was sticking it to the Wrigley faithful and Michael Jordan holding us all in the palm of his hand.

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Jim Crago

Bears Wed Aug 07 2013

It's a New Era for Lance Briggs

GB bears icon.png Lance Briggs stood between the sliding doors of an eighth-floor bedroom deck, which overlooked the beautiful Streeterville neighborhood landscape. Camera lights fixated on his iron jaw, which sported a thin layer of five o'clock shadow, and his wedge-like frame which gave off the illusion that he was holding up the downtown high-rise.

A production team frantically works behind Briggs to set up the next shot for the New Era Cap ad campaign, while the now-veteran linebacker focuses on how he would run through the next scene. Watching Briggs mentally prepare for a scene is almost as intense as watching him prepare for the next down on the field.

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Jim Crago

Bears Sun May 12 2013

Alyne Payton and Sweetness - Together on Mother's Day

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngMother's Day is one of those holidays that reminds us of that special lady we once puked on after eating too much cake, bled on after skinning our knee on the pavement, and cried on after striking out in a ballgame or in a relationship. No matter the situation or subject matter, good ol' mom was there to clean up the mess, crack out the Bactine, and wipe away the tears.

On Sunday, millions of Chicagoans will pick up the phone and put in a call to mom to wish her the happiest of Mother's Days and ask if she liked the bouquet of Gerbera Daisies sent express that morning. Many other men and women will wake up a little earlier in the morning to mix pancake batter with their child/children in an effort to serve mom breakfast in bed. A standard pastime, which is accompanied with a cup of Joe, fresh OJ, a flower and a smile.

Then there will be many Chicagoans who will spend their time remembering their mother, harking back to a time when she was still with us - maybe a visit to her grave with a poem, a flower and a tear. Once our time here is finished on earth, there's hope one day we'll be reunited with those we've loved, even in the most tragic of cases where it's the child who leaves mom behind.

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Jim Crago

Review Tue Feb 12 2013

Review: Duerson: Triumph, Trauma and Tragedy in the NFL

Duerson: Triumph, Trauma and Tragedy in the NFLSuper Bowl XLVII capped off another multi-billion dollar year for the National Football League, in which commissioner Roger Goodell dealt not only with record ratings, but also the sixth former or current player taking his own life in the last two years.

The most recent incident involved Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who not only committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager back in December, but also shot and killed his girlfriend before doing so.

Fans question how athletes, who seem to have it all (fame, fortune, success), would want to end it all with a bullet. The same question was asked about former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, after he fatally shot himself in the chest back on Feb. 17, 2011, leaving behind his family, business, friends and legions of fans asking, "Why?"

A new e-book about Duerson's life, Duerson: Triumph, Trauma and Tragedy in the NFL, as told through articles from the Chicago Tribune, examines the two-time Super Bowl champion's career as a football player (Bears, New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals), his passion to compete, his business life, the troubles he ran into, and his unfortunate suicide.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Football Thu Jan 17 2013

Bulls Beat the Raptor...OMG, Did You Guys Hear About Manti Te'o?

In what has to be the most unusual story in college sports, at least in my lifetime, former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has found himself in the middle of a non-existent love story that would have producers at "General Hospital" drooling at the writers' table.

Yesterday afternoon, Deadspin's Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey asked what ESPN, CBS, and other sporting news outlets couldn't: who is Lennay Kekua, and why is there no certificate regarding her death?

Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick addressed the media yesterday evening, just after 7pm (CST), which was carried by UND.com, as well as ESPN News. (It should be noted that, according to multiple reports, ESPN sat on the Te'o story for 10 days. It wasn't until after Deadspin uncovered the story that ESPN began to report on it.)

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Jim Crago / Comments (2)

Bears Wed Jan 16 2013

Bears Hire Trestman -- Temper Your Emotions

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngIf you're a fan of Aaron Sorkin, Tom Hanks, or Philip Seymour Hoffman, then you'll recognize the following exchange (courtesy of IMDB) from Charlie Wilson's War, where Hoffman (Gust Avrakotos) tries to explain to Hanks (Charlie Wilson) that he needs more money to rebuild infrastructure in Afghanistan to prevent future problems for Americans following the 'covert' war the United States waged against the Soviet Union.

Gust Avrakotos: There's a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse... and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful. The boy got a horse." And the Zen master says, "We'll see." Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "How terrible." And the Zen master says, "We'll see." Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight... except the boy can't cause his leg's all messed up, and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful."

Charlie Wilson: Now the Zen master says, "We'll see."

Most Bears fans were excited that Lovie Smith got fired after failing to make the postseason for the fifth time in six years. My reaction was more tempered. Hiring a head coach in the NFL is the epitome of "one extreme or the other." It only ends two ways. A Super Bowl, or a pink slip.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (2)

Football Mon Jan 14 2013

NFL Playoffs Notebook: Divisional Round

I'll be honest, writing this week's NFL Notebook was tough. A lot happened in the Divisional Round, so trying to recap this all here on Gapers Block would be way too cumbersome.

If you missed the games this weekend there are a few good ways to quickly catch up. Read this column (Duh!), watch the highlights, read the game books on NFL.com (I linked to them for you), and watch copious amounts of sports yak debate shows on Monday.

Anyway, here are the highlights and observations from a wild set of games.

• We, as football fans, were blessed with two memorable playoff games this weekend.

The Ravens-Broncos game...

1) was the most entertaining game of the 2012-13 season
2) featured the most exciting play since the Tim Tebow play from last year's playoffs
3) will go down as one of the best NFL playoff games ever

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (1)

Football Mon Jan 07 2013

NFL Playoffs Notebook: Wild Card Weekend

Welcome to the NFL Playoffs Notebook! Catchy name, I know.

I'll give some observations from the Wild Card round. I hope that this notebook will be more entertaining than The Notebook, and less arrogant than Gregg Easterbook's notebook.

Bengals vs. Texans

• I'm not sure anyone would say that the Texans -- the favorites, the team that started 11-1 -- played particularly well on Saturday afternoon. Quarterback Matt Schaub was erratic at times (one pick-six interception), and didn't hit receivers down field. His longest pass was for 22 yards. Arian Foster had 140 rushing yards, but on 32 carries. His longest rush was for 17 yards. Houston didn't have many big plays, and they settled for four field goals.

But there was never a point in time where I thought they would lose. Cincinnati just didn't move the ball. Look at their drive chart. Six drives with six or less plays. Longest drive was 64 yards, for a field goal. Andy Dalton was bad news, completing 14 of 30 passes for a paltry 127 yards. The Bengals scrapped the running game too, calling only 16 plays on the ground (this was probably because they only had the ball for 21 minutes).

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Mike Chamernik / Comments (1)

Chicago Wed Dec 12 2012

Chicago-Centric Bowl Season Picks

College Football Bowl Local Edition

Here is a list of upcoming bowl you should care about...or not:

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Sat., Dec. 22
UL Lafayette over East Carolina

UL Lafayette is Bears cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman's alma mater.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Bowl Fri., Dec. 28
Texas Tech over Minnesota

The Golden Gophers defensive line coach, Jeff Phelps' dad and my dad were best friends up until death.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl Mon., Dec. 31
LSU over Clemson

Do you think Alderman "Proco" Joe Moreno will tune in to see the Chick-Fil-A Bowl game??

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Evan F. Moore

Football Sun Nov 18 2012

Wake Up The Echoes

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are the number one college football team in the nation. They've been mediocre for so long that their ascension to the top of the college football mountain seems awkward. Due to Alabama, Kansas State, and Oregon losing games that they should have won, Notre Dame's rise in the polls was an inevitability.

Notre Dame has USC left on the schedule. They have a good shot at winning that game due to the injury today suffered by USC QB Matt Barkley (You think he regrets staying an extra year?).

For now, Irish fans can gloat, but let's not forget about the Alabama Crimson Tide. If they win out, there will be a Roll Tide vs. Notre Dame national championship game. Alabama head coach Nick Saban will not let them waste an opportunity to play in the national championship game. Teams that are stocked full of NFL talent that happen to be well-coached tend to not waste second chances at football glory.

The college football powers that be would love it if two of the most storied programs in their history were to duke it out for all of the marbles. As long as both teams win out, college football fans will see this game take place.

Enjoy the next few weeks Irish fans because the big game will be here before you know it.

Evan F. Moore

Bears Mon Sep 10 2012

Bears Handle Colts in Season Opener

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngThe most exciting fact for the Bears after yesterday's games should be how their division rivals played. Sure, the Bears looked dominant at times during a 41-21 trouncing of the visiting Indianapolis Colts, but that outcome was anticipated.

What they didn't expect to see was the division rival Packers losing at home to the 49ers - a team that many prognosticators believed would regress from their NFC Championship appearance last season (though the 49ers look like the real deal to me). They also didn't expect to see the wild-card Lions barely escaping a home meeting with the hapless Rams on a late touchdown, or the Vikings (with nobody expecting them to be good) needing overtime to beat a five-win Jaguars team.

The outcome could've ended up a whole lot different if the sequence of events that took place during the first two offensive series continued throughout the game. A sack on a missed block by Kellen Davis, a false start by Gabe Carimi, a short run by Matt Forte on 2nd and 24, and a shotgun snap that rolled to Jay Cutler on third down made for an awful first drive. But it was nothing compared to the ill-advised throw Cutler made to start the second possession that ended up being a pick six.

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Chad Ruter

Bears Thu Sep 06 2012

How to Watch Football (and the Bears) Intelligently

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngTo accurately analyze and pass judgment on a football team, you have to watch games a particular way. Very few people do it, and it's admittedly difficult to do consistently.

The eye is naturally drawn to the ball. It's the vehicle for scoring in nearly every sport, and the best players typically possess it the longest. It's tough to look away because you're afraid of missing something -- which is a legitimate worry with guys like LeBron James and Lionel Messi.

I'm here to tell you not to worry about that. If you want to talk about the Bears (or any team) intelligently when the conversation comes up at your nearby water cooler on Monday morning, there's a certain progression to look at for every play. Here's how to do it, with Bears players thrown into the mix for reference, and since the proper way to watch each team varies slightly based on personnel.

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Chad Ruter / Comments (3)

Bears Fri Aug 31 2012

Bears Close Preseason With Minor Skirmishes

Thumbnail image for GB bears icon.pngThe major storyline of the Bears' fourth and final preseason game, a 28-20 win in Cleveland, was who would get the third-string running back slot. Both Lorenzo Booker and Armando Allen battled for the position, splitting carries and sharing the workload the entire game.

Yeah, you can probably tell that if that was the biggest story of the game, none of the Bears that get regular playing time saw the field on Thursday.

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Mike Chamernik

Interview Thu Jul 12 2012

Interview: Dave Zirin on Politics, Sports & the Politics of Sports

dave_zirin.jpgDave Zirin is not your typical sportswriter. He is a regular contributor to The Nation, the host of the Sirius XM Radio show, Edge of Sports Radio, and has written six books and numerous articles about the intersection between sports and politics. I spoke with Zirin after a talk he gave at the Socialism 2012 conference about the levels of violence in pro sports. We discussed a range of topics including Howard Zinn, his new book, and his candid thoughts about sports team owners (and one prominent Chicago owner in particular).

When did you start thinking about politics and sports and the relationship between the two?

I was a sports-freak growing up in New York City. I played basketball, baseball. I only really started to think about politics and sports in 1991. It was during the first Gulf War and the halftime show at a game I was at at Madison Square Garden involved one of the mascots beating up somebody in an Arab costume. Everybody was chanting "USA! USA!" and my best friend in high school just happened to be Iranian. He was on the basketball team and he was strongly against this war that I didn't know or understand or even care about what was happening.

Seeing that at a game rocked my world a little bit, and had me thinking more about the politics of sports. It's been something I sort of nursed for years and paid attention when athletes spoke out politically.

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Jason Prechtel

Bears Fri Apr 27 2012

Bears Get Defensive in First Round

Chicago BearsThe Bears grabbed Shea McClellin with the 19th pick in Thursday's first round of the NFL Draft. Yay!

I totally had McClellin going in the number 19 slot to Chicago in six of my nine updated mock drafts over the last four months. In the others, I had the Bears reaching on OLB Bruce Irvin (instead of Seattle), pegging 28-year old Brandon Weeden as their new third-string QB (because he is sure to be much more mature than old back-up Caleb Hanie), and taking Robert Griffin III after 18 other teams overreacted to a neither-here-nor-there scouting report.

But I nailed the pick. As for the Bears? It looks good... but we'll see.

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Mike Chamernik

Bears Fri Mar 16 2012

Tread Carefully With Brandon Marshall, Bears Fans

Congratulations on acquiring Brandon Marshall!

Pros: Tall, strong, works well with Jay Cutler
Cons: Temperamental, stone-mitten hands

Lacking anyone who could even convincingly dress up as a No. 1 receiver for Halloween, the Bears made the first big move of the NFL off-season this week by trading for Miami Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall. The three-time Pro Bowler comes relatively cheap, with Chicago giving up its third-round draft picks this year and next.

I'm a Dolphins fan by birth, so let me be the first to warn you: Have fun!

Watching Marshall week to week over the past two seasons has been a roller coaster, but not necessarily a fun one. Despite his obvious physical talents, and the consistent yardage (five 1,000-yard seasons in a row), he's never been a receiver I trusted in the clutch.

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Colin Hettinger / Comments (1)

Rush Mon Mar 12 2012

Rush Start Strong in AFL Opener

rush opener.JPG

By Etheria Modacure

The 25th season of the Arena Football League got underway this weekend and the Chicago Rush were able to win their opener over the Tampa Bay Storm, 70-48.

In front of 9,124 at Allstate Arena, the Rush defense was their strength as linebacker Kelvin Morris returned two interceptions for touchdowns and quarterback Russ Michna threw eight touchdown passes.

The Rush, who finished last season at 13-5, winning the Central Division of the American Conference, got their ninth home opener win in franchise history.

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Tailgate

Football Tue Jan 24 2012

What You Missed: NFL Conference Championships

Hey... that looked familiar. I watched the entire AFC and NFC Championship games, and I couldn't help but reminisce.

The Ravens' third-and-3 draw play late in the game to Ray Rice reminded me of Madden. Baltimore ran the play while at the New England 30 with about three minutes left, trailing by three.

I am not a football expert. I am not a member of the Bill Walsh coaching tree, and I did not work as a video coordinator under Bill Parcells. I learned what I know about football by watching the game, and playing Madden video games (or the legendary NFL 2K5). If I was playing as the Ravens, and if I was in that same situation, I would know that there are certain plays that are more likely to gain yards. I'm thinking of quick slants, runs up the middle or between the tackles, quarterback sneaks, fullback rushes (my favorites), or even QB rollouts.

Then, there are the plays that may lose yardage, like play-action passes, screens, pitches to the outside, and anything that may be categorized as a trick play. But the worst offender in this regard is the draw play. They only work when the defense is clearly amped up for a pass. In this situation, Baltimore obviously would like to move the chains, but even a no gain works in their favor. This was not a clear-cut passing situation.

So what happened? Rice was stuffed for a loss of three yards. Baltimore went for it on fourth-and-6, and threw incomplete. Baltimore squandered an excellent scoring chance either to tie it or even continue the drive.

Lee Evans' "drop" reminded me of Lee Evans' catch from last week. He makes an amazing one-handed catch last week, but fails to reel in an easier game-winning catch on Sunday. I know, I know... that was a great play by the Patriots defender, Sterling Moore, to break that play up. But with those stakes, I can't see Larry Fitzgerald or even Reggie Wayne not coming up with a catch in that situation.

Billy Cundiff's miss reminded me of U2's "Stuck in a Moment" music video. Poor Billy Cundiff.

Watching it live, I thought it was a combination of errors that led to the miss - I thought the snap was bad, the hold was bad, and the kick was the result of those two miscues. Nope. The snap and hold weren't perfect, but they were good enough. Cundiff just missed it.

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Mike Chamernik

Football Mon Jan 23 2012

This is the Last Thing Kenny Williams Needed

The Bears are long gone to hibernation, but Chicago was well represented in Sunday's NFC Championship Game: Kyle Williams, the backup wide receiver "who cost the 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl" by fumbling twice on late punt returns, is the son of White Sox general manager Kenny Williams.

Before last night, that was the only thing Kyle Williams was famous for. Now he's getting death threats on Twitter, YouTube and wherever else mouth-breathing sports fans gather on the Internet.

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Jim Reedy

Football Mon Jan 16 2012

What You Missed: NFL Divisional Weekend

I was sick this weekend, but that just meant I had license to stay in and watch all four divisional playoff games this weekend. It was a nice silver lining.

I learned seven things:

1) The Giants really are road warriors. But not these Road Warriors. And really, there is no definitive explanation why. My best guess? The team is led by such dominant personalities (Osi Umenyiora, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks, Justin Tuck, and even Eli Manning) that they are fueled by challenges like "Nobody believes in us," "Everyone here in this stadium is rooting against us," and "Let's show them!" They did it before in 2007, and they're doing it again now.

They really played Green Bay well Sunday, rushing Aaron Rodgers like crazy. For every time Rodgers ended up sidestepping the pressure for a rushing first down, the Giants D forced a sack, fumble or rushed throw. On offense, Manning was great, hitting open receivers all game, and the ground game was good enough for a couple of key runs, including Bradshaw's rush to set up the Hail Mary, and Jacobs' touchdown run to ice the game. A masterful performance by New York.

2) The regular season determines playoff seeding and who gets into the playoffs ... and that's it. I can't imagine a team having a better regular season than the Packers, who were an offensive juggernaut. One bad game in Kansas City, a game where they almost came back to win, ruined what would have been a perfect 16. Meanwhile, the Giants had a totally underwhelming regular season. They lost four straight games at one point, lost a big game at home to the Washington Generals Redskins in Week 15, and snuck into the playoffs after beating a turmoil-filled Jets team in Week 16 and a reeling Cowboys team at home in Week 17. Now? They have the inside track to the Super Bowl.

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Mike Chamernik

Bears Mon Jan 09 2012

Running the Bears Offense: A Drama in Two Acts

Act I

By Mike Chamernik

Not to go on a rant here, but I think Mike Martz is the most overrated coach in any sport ever. I have no idea why he has been labeled as an offensive genius over the years and I won't miss him at all as Bears offensive coordinator.

I'll go as far as to say most of his career is based on good timing, because who knows where he is now if he's not a coach with the Rams when they have four future hall of famers in Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Since then he hasn't done anything: before the Bears he was with Detroit and San Francisco (no playoff appearances with them, and I don't recall any dynamic offenses from them), yet he always escapes blame, keeps landing other jobs, and always gets shown on the telecast during a game, with the announcers saying "There's Mike Martz, well known for being a maestro of the offense."

Act II

By Jim Reedy

Promoting Mike Tice to offensive coordinator is about the most Bears thing the Bears could have done. God forbid they get creative in any way.

Tailgate

Football Mon Jan 09 2012

What You Missed: NFL Wild Card Weekend

Chances are, your NFL team's season is over. After all, this is Gapers Block, so I would assume that since you are here you like the Bears. But you do not need a rooting interest to enjoy the NFL Playoffs. There was plenty of entertainment to go around.

During the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs, it was fun to see...

... the Texans win their first ever postseason game. Even better, it was at home, with the crowd exploding after big plays.

... Arian Foster's touchdown run and J.J. Watt's interception return, two electrifying highlight reel plays. Foster's run was great - he was able to find just that little bit of space to the outside, and he was able to stiff-arm a tackler while somehow staying in bounds.

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Mike Chamernik

Bears Fri Jan 06 2012

A Piece of Bears History

George Halas and the Bears after the 1940 title game / Tribune file photo

Bears fans all remember Super Bowl XX as an uncommonly one-sided win. But what about a 73-0 rout in a championship game?

Seventy-one years ago, the Bears beat the Washington Redskins by that score in the 1940 NFL Championship Game. It is the biggest margin of victory in NFL history, ranked by ESPN.com a few years ago as the third-biggest beatdown in sports history:

The Bears had 501 yards of offense, intercepted eight passes and officials had to ask Bears coach George Halas to run or pass for the PAT on the team's final two scores because so many balls had been kicked into the stands.

Now the game ball from that December day will be display as part of the Unexpected Chicago series that opens today at the Chicago History Museum.

The football in question / Photo: Chicago History Museum

The ball is adorned by the signatures of several future Hall of Famers, including the Bears' legendary co-founder and coach, George Halas.

Of course, more than just this famous pigskin will be featured. The Unexpected Chicago collection contains over 22 million artifacts, and the costume section alone has over 50,000 objects, including clothing and accessories.

The Chicago History Museum is located at 1601 N. Clark Street, with $14 admission for adults, $12 for seniors and students, and free for children under 12. More information at ChicagoHistory.org.

Mike Chamernik

Bears Thu Jan 05 2012

Time For a Change: Bears Dump Longtime GM

Thumbnail image for bears.gifThis week, the Bears parted ways with general manager Jerry Angelo and offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

Martz was a relatively recent arrival who made his name elsewhere; his departure after two uneven seasons was celebrated by many Chicago fans. But that reaction was nothing compared to the excitement voiced about the departure of Angelo, who been Bears GM since 2001.

It's been a rocky 10 years.

Sure, there were the good times, like building the 2006 NFC champions and drafting cornerstone players like Lance Briggs, Matt Forte and Devin Hester. Angelo brought in talented quarterback Jay Cutler without giving up too much. There even were times when the Bears appeared to be the most dominant team in the NFL.

But then there are the negative marks against him. And there are quite a few.

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Mike Chamernik

College Teams Thu Jan 05 2012

Big Ten Football: Is This It?

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGOn paper, it sure doesn't look pretty. The 2011-12 bowl season saw the Big Ten's qualifying teams finish a combined 4-6*, with losses to teams from four different conferences.

In a league run by human voters, one's national stock depends more on reputation than empirical data; and this slate of games looks much brighter (even if not altogether Rosier) once one compares the whats and the hows of the six losses.

Because if the SEC has taught us anything, it's that being the most dominant conference in college football requires no more than three perennial powerhouses backed up by a mere handful of worthy adversaries. A conference doesn't get measured based on the success of its seventh-best team, but rather how many crystal footballs get roped in by the highest tier.

And like I say, the lower portion of the Big Ten certainly didn't have its best month and a half.

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Kyle Sparks / Comments (2)

Bears Mon Dec 26 2011

Bears Down

Thumbnail image for bears.gifQuick show of hands: How many people cared about the Bears game on Sunday night after that thrilling Bulls victory not but 30 minutes earlier?

Another show of hands: How many people actually watched the game? After all, it was Christmas, and there probably were better things to do than watch a reeling Bears team take on the dominant Packers in Green Bay.

If you didn't catch the game, you didn't miss much. Aaron Rodgers threw five touchdowns and the Packers rolled 35-21. After a defensive touchdown early in the third quarter, Chicago only trailed by four, but then the Packers scored three straight touchdowns (including one a minute later to reverse momentum) to jump out to a 35-10 lead. Two late scores made the final margin respectable.

The Bears were forced to start Josh McCown, who wasn't terrible: 242 yards with a TD (and two interceptions). Kahlil Bell rushed for a game-high 121 yards. But other than that, it was all Green Bay.

The loss officially eliminated the Bears from the postseason. The five consecutive losses will be remembered for the injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, bad play from Caleb Hanie, bad luck (Janikowski drilling six field goals, the Chiefs connecting on a Hail Mary) and serious mental lapses (Marion Barber running out of bounds).

Although there is still one more game left in the season, next Sunday in Minnesota, the Bears can look forward to a long offseason.

Mike Chamernik

Bears Thu Dec 22 2011

Too Late For Bears to Hit the Reset Button

Thumbnail image for bears.gifWhen Caleb Hanie took over for an injured Jay Cutler in the NFC championship game last season and was leading the Bears on a late fourth quarter drive to tie the game, it was like something out of a movie. Here's this young QB, from nowhere, rallying his team and marching them down the field for a trip to the Super Bowl.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. It would have been too astounding.

Fast forward 11 months. With the report that the legendary Josh McCown will start instead of the struggling Hanie on Sunday in Green Bay, the Bears' season is -- barring a miracle -- over. One loss will finish them for good; a road game against the 13-1 Packers while starting a quarterback who has only thrown eight passes since 2007 is a big mountain to climb.

If this season was being played out by me in Madden 12, I would have either reset the game, or cheated by turning the injuries off and altering game sliders. (Change Roy Williams speed and catch rating to 99? Yes sir!) And if I would have played it out legit, I probably would have broken a controller in a fit of rage ("How did Janikowski make 6 field goals?!?!?!?!") and screamed my lungs out at the TV.

It's been a tough year for the Bears. What made it so bad is that the team really looked fantastic during the middle of the season.

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Mike Chamernik

Bears Mon Dec 19 2011

Playoff Hopes Dim As Bears Lose 4th Straight

Thumbnail image for bears.gifThe most telling play of the Bears' 38-14 loss to Seattle on Sunday happened in the fourth quarter with just over five minutes remaining, when Pete Carroll decided to go for it on fourth-and-7 from Chicago's 30-yard line, leading by 17 points.

He basically said, "You know what? Rather than kick a field goal and risk the chance of Devin Hester returning a kick for a touchdown, we'll let Caleb Hanie beat us if we don't get the first."

The Bears took over after Tarvaris Jackson missed a wide-open receiver, but on the next snap, Hanie threw a pick-six to Brandon Browner. The game was now 100% over.

Hanie really struggled, passing 10-of-23 for only 111 yards, and finished with a 33.3 QB rating. Even worse, he threw two picks for touchdowns.

Hanie was terribly inaccurate, overthrowing receivers and flat-out missing guys. Bad decisions plagued the day, such as his first interception return, when he tried to dump the ball off before getting sacked. Instead, he threw it right into the chest of defensive tackle Red Bryant, who walked the ball into the end zone.

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Mike Chamernik

Bears Thu Dec 15 2011

The Receiver's a Dealer: Bears' Hurd Arrested

The Bears' season took another odd turn today as news broke that receiver Sam Hurd was arrested outside a nightclub for attempting to buy a kilo of cocaine with the intent to distribute

According to AM 670 The Score, Hurd is a top dealer in the city, and sold to a number of NFL players to boot.

The Bears issued the statement, "We are aware of Sam's arrest and are continuing to gather details surrounding it. We are disappointed whenever these circumstances arise. We will deal with them appropriately once we have all the information." Coach Lovie Smith said at practice today that Hurd remains a member of the team. I imagine the Feds have a big say in for how much longer.

UPDATE: Hurd was cut from the team on Friday.

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Andrew Huff

Bears Mon Dec 12 2011

Bears Stumble to the Finish in Denver

Thumbnail image for bears.gifIt's unfair to blame Marion Barber for the Bears' 13-10 loss in Denver on Sunday. But ... yeah, he had the two biggest gaffes late in the game.

As has been repeated ad nauseum, football is a team sport. Just what happened to the Bears?

With a little under six minutes remaining, the Bears forced their eighth punt of the game. Chicago was leading 10-0, and Tim Tebow was 8-of-22 for only 86 yards. Running back Willis McGahee had 33 yards on 16 attempts. The defense had forced two turnovers and seven three-and-outs.

Although the Bears had to punt on their first seven possessions, they were still able to muster a Barber touchdown and a Robbie Gould field goal. The Bears took over at their own 17 with 5:41 left in the game. From here, the collapse begins.

Let's look at the tape (literally, because I recorded the game on VHS) and see what went wrong.

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Mike Chamernik

Bears Mon Dec 05 2011

Hanie, Bears Sunk by Bad Breaks

Thumbnail image for bears.gifCaleb Hanie must have broken a mirror or walked under a ladder, because every break went against him and the Bears in Sunday's 10-3 home loss to Kansas City.

Here is a full list of the bad luck that plagued the young quarterback in his second career start:
• He lost his best offensive teammate, Matt Forte, early in the first quarter. Forte sprained his right knee and did not return to the game.
• His line failed to protect him, giving up seven sacks and forcing him to roll out on what felt like every pass play.
• On the one drive where the blocking was perfect, he made several nice throws to get the Bears into Kansas City territory, but Roy Williams couldn't hold onto a pass that would have brought Chicago near the goal line. And not only that, but the ball was bobbled around and intercepted.
• In the second quarter, he threw a touchdown pass to a wide open Marion Barber - except Barber wasn't lined up on the line of scrimmage, and the Bears were flagged for illegal formation. They had to settle for a field goal.
• He drove the offense down to the Kansas City 7-yard line late in the third quarter, but two sacks brought them out to the 23. Then, Robbie Gould, who is normally automatic on kicks under 50 yards, missed a 41-yarder.
• Devin Hester had only one good punt return, mostly just waving for fair catches.
• The worst break for Hanie and the Bears? The Chiefs got their only touchdown on a Hail Mary pass before halftime. Tyler Palko chucked it toward the end zone, and Brian Urlacher and Chris Conte batted it down ... right into the hands of Dexter McCluster.

Of course, teams create their own luck to an extent.

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Mike Chamernik

College Teams Mon Dec 05 2011

Big Ten Football: Badgers Come Up Roses

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGWith less than two minutes left in Saturday's Big Ten championship game, we seemed destined for another Hail Mary.

Michigan State forced a Wisconsin three-and-out, and would have the ball for any late-game heroics that should erase the Badgers' three-point lead. It felt only natural that the team that dropped Wisconsin from the national title race with a miracle touchdown pass several weeks ago might now eliminate beat them in the conference title game in similar fashion.

But this time, the pendulum of fate swung to the Badgers.

The Spartans sent the house to try to block the punt, and instead got a roughing the kicker penalty. Wisconsin kept the ball with a new set of downs, and had no problem draining the clock for a 42-39 win with Michigan State out of timeouts.

It was not as if Michigan State did not enjoy their own level of fortune throughout the contest. They got two points on a fake extra-point play, converted an ill-advised lateral while falling out of bounds for a touchdown, and completed a fourth-down pass play to keep the Badgers at bay and hold onto the lead with four minutes left.

But it was the Badgers' own heroics that claimed this one.

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Kyle Sparks / Comments (2)

Bears Tue Nov 29 2011

Uneven Debut for Bears Backup QB

Thumbnail image for bears.gifThe Raiders won because of a commitment to excellence on special teams, and the Bears' new quarterback, Caleb Hanie, couldn't spike the ball correctly.

It was an odd Sunday afternoon in Oakland.

The Raiders won 25-20, ending the Bears' five-game win streak and dropping them to 7-4. The atypical score was due to the bionic left foot of Sebastian Janikowski, who put 19 points on the board (six field goals, one extra point), and the bionic right foot of Shane Lechler, who boomed one punt 80 yards and downed three others inside the 20.

As for Chicago, Hanie looked a bit rusty and inexperienced in his first career start, filling in for the injured Jay Cutler. He overthrew some receivers, and made a bad cross-field throw that was intercepted. That pass killed a drive before the half and led to three points for Oakland.

The craziest play in this game was the last one of the game: the Bears, with the clock ticking, lined up to spike the ball with a few seconds left to try a Hail Mary. Only Hanie faked the spike, hesitated, looked at his confused receivers, saw the Oakland rush, and then finally spiked the ball. He was flagged for intentional grounding, and with the 10-second runoff, the game ended. Not his best decision.

The penalty ended a day of growing pains. But Hanie did look good at times out there, throwing for two touchdowns. On his first, a 29-yard pass to Johnny Knox, Hanie read the six-man blitz early and hit a slanting Knox, who shed a tackle and raced in for the score. His second was a nine-yard throw to Kellen Davis.

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Mike Chamernik

College Teams Mon Nov 28 2011

Big Ten Football: Hail Sparty, Bucky

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGAll in all, it's been hard to take Big Ten football seriously this year.

That's not to say it hasn't been entertaining; this season could affectionately be described as Everybody Beating Up On Everybody. But as thrilling as the mayhem has been, it's also left us scrambling for solid answers as we gear up for the first Big Ten championship game next weekend.

Here's what we know: Michigan State (10-2, 7-1) and Wisconsin (10-2, 6-2) are headed Indianapolis to square off in the most highly anticipated rematch this side of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. You may recall the last time the two met up, the Spartans won on a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass.

At that point, this rematch seemed a foregone conclusion: No team in the Big Ten was playing as well as these two teams. And the following week, both of them lost.

Since their humbling loss at Nebraska, the Spartans have won four straight, including a two-touchdown win on the road against Iowa and this weekend's 31-17 drubbing of 6-6 Northwestern. They'll likely be favored next weekend.

But despite two late-game missteps in October, the Badgers have their own momentum brewing. They beat No. 19 Penn State (9-3, 6-2) this weekend to earn a title-game berth, and they did so convincingly, responded after an early Nittany Lions touchdown with 45 unanswered points to win 45-7. Even though they share first place in the Leaders Division, there was no doubt Saturday about which team deserved to win the tiebreaker as the Badgers ran over, under and through the supposedly staunch Penn State defense.

But while Michigan State will have their hands full in Indianapolis, it's interesting to consider what the conference would look like had it not made the leap to a 12-team league with a championship game.

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Kyle Sparks

Bears Tue Nov 22 2011

Never Saw It Coming: Bears Lose Cutler

Thumbnail image for bears.gifWhen I heard about Jay Cutler's broken thumb after Sunday's win over San Diego, I thought of Joe Pesci getting whacked.

Like the Bears after five straight wins, Pesci's character in Goodfellas was living the high life, with everything going his way. He thought he was going to be a made man. Instead, he got shot in the back of the head.

For the Bears, the wound might not be fatal, but it's a serious blow after a month in which they had climbed into the ranks of serious NFL contenders.

Cutler hurt his thumb while trying to tackle the Chargers' Antoine Cason after an interception in the fourth quarter. He finished out the 31-20 win, completing both of his final two passes, but Cutler will need surgery soon.

Reports say Cutler might miss six to eight weeks, but head coach Lovie Smith is saying he will return before the end of the season.

Chicago will turn to Caleb Hanie, who relieved Cutler in last year's NFC championship game. Hanie had a solid, if not spectacular game, leading the Bears downfield twice for scores.

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Mike Chamernik

College Teams Mon Nov 21 2011

Big Ten Football: Only the Strong Survive

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGRussell Wilson was supposed to be the savior of the Badgers' season.

Returning the lion's share of starters from 2010 season that ended in the Rose Bowl, the only pressing question mark was the lack of a clear leader under center. And with Wilson's transfer, they added not just a competent starter, but a proven star who turned Wisconsin from being a conference contender to a clear-cut favorite.

But the wind in Champaign on Saturday isolated the passing game (Wilson was 10-of-13 for 90 yards and a touchdown) and gave us a glimpse at what the Badgers (9-2, 5-2) might have been without him: a team that is really good at running the football.

Montee "Touchdown Machine" Ball ran for 224 yards and two touchdowns, adding a third touchdown via the air as Wisconsin rallied past Illinois (6-5, 2-5), 28-17.

It's silly to think about picking apart an otherwise commanding victory, but this was a game the Illinois Fumblerooskis were just too bad to win. Quarterbacks Nathan Scheelhaase and R. O'Toole combined to throw three interceptions, on top of a lost fumble that gave the Badgers all the breathing room they needed.

Despite a 10-point halftime deficit, the Badgers now are just one win away from being invited to the Big Ten championship game.

Continue reading this entry »

Kyle Sparks

College Teams Fri Nov 18 2011

Big Ten Football: Ohio State Grooms New QB

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGWe all knew Ohio State wouldn't stay down for long. Even after their nail-biting near-loss to Toledo in Week 2, the Buckeyes had a trusted -- if not proven -- head coach in Luke Fickell, a nexus of senior players who would return from suspension in time for the games that were legitimately challenging, and a senior quarterback who had spent three years learning the offensive scheme behind Terrelle Pryor.

But while the head coach and nucleus of talent have proven their utility in climbing back up to a favorable position in the Leaders Division after their impressive win over Wisconsin on Oct. 29, the experience under center has not gone quite as planned.

After just three games, it was the 24-6 blowout loss to Miami in which Joe Bauserman completed a meager 14 percent of his passes that prompted Fickell to pull the trigger. And with his suspended upperclassmen nearing their return and the Big Ten schedule imminent, he handed the majority of the snaps over to talented freshman quarterback Braxton Miller.

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Kyle Sparks

Bears Wed Nov 16 2011

Bears Roaring With 4 Straight Wins

Thumbnail image for bears.gifLions quarterback Matthew Stafford unleashed one of the worst passes in NFL history on Sunday, and the Bears were the beneficiaries.

Stafford dropped back, took one look to his left and saw Tony Scheffler seemingly open in the flat. Stafford threw it, but it looked like a Frisbee, hanging in the air, slowly drifting towards its target. Bears cornerback Major Wright, reading the play all the way from the snap, caught the ball in stride and jogged it into the end zone untouched.

That was the theme of Sunday's 37-13 win: a revved-up defense throttling the opponent and making it look easy. Chicago put together their most dominant win of the season. They beat up the Lions from the opening snap, forcing six turnovers and five punts, while only allowing 13 points.

It wasn't just Sunday. Over the last four games, the Bears (6-3) have been playing wildly effective football, moving into position for a wild-card playoff spot. And they've been doing it with what they do best: an elite special teams, a ballhawking defense, and a hungry running back. Big-time passing game? Who needs that?

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Mike Chamernik

College Teams Mon Nov 14 2011

Big Ten Football: Contenders Come Full Circle

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGAnother week, another new set of front-runners in the Big Ten's two football divisions.

Just one week after taking control of their own destiny in the Legends Division, Iowa (6-4, 3-3) lost to No. 17 Michigan State (8-2, 5-1) at home, 37-21, and conceded that control in the division to the Spartans. Following a slow showing the past two weeks, Michigan State came out firing in Iowa City, scoring 28 points in the first half. And despite Iowa's push in the third quarter, Michigan State held strong and wrestled away control of the division.

Nothing is certain yet, though. The Spartans will be favored in both of their remaining games against Northwestern (5-5, 2-4) and Indiana (1-9, 0-6), but if they do stumble they will be right back into a tie with whichever team wins between No. 19 Nebraska (8-2, 4-2) and No. 24 Michigan (8-2, 4-2) next week. Nebraska holds the tiebreaker over Michigan State, though the Spartans own the tiebreaker over Michigan.

Continue reading this entry »

Kyle Sparks

College Teams Mon Nov 07 2011

Big Ten Football: Rebound Games

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGA week ago, Iowa was the Big Ten's ugly stepchild after losing to the football laugh factory known as Minnesota. Nebraska was the conference's new favorite after crushing Michigan State. Wisconsin was a crumpled mess that seemed unable to put together a full four quarters of football.

But what a difference a week can make.

Despite humbling losses to both Iowa State and Minnesota, the Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) now control their own destiny in the conference with just three games left after Saturday's 24-16 victory over Michigan.

The Wolverines (7-2, 3-2) had a good chance to take the game back, driving to the 3-yard line for a first-and-goal on their last possession. But Denard Robinson missed on four straight throws, and the Hawkeyes survived to remain in a three-way tie for second place in the Legends Division. Their remaining games include home matchups with both Nebraska (7-2, 3-2) and Michigan State (7-2, 4-1), giving them the opportunity to win out and seal any potential tiebreakers in the Legends Division.

And boy, you have to expect there will be tiebreakers.

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Kyle Sparks

Force Tue Nov 01 2011

Force Tryouts Coming Up

The Chicago Force women's football team is holding tryouts for the 2012 team on Nov. 19 and Dec. 17. Think you have what it takes? Tryouts will consist of a variety of tests of strength, agility and football fundamentals, and are open to women age 17 and over.

Andrew Huff

College Teams Mon Oct 31 2011

Big Ten Football: Home Sweet Home

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGEntering Week 9, nobody in the Big Ten was flying quite as high as No. 11 Michigan State (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten). The Spartans were coming off consecutive wins against Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and carried the momentum of a Hail Mary touchdown with them into Lincoln, Neb., for an opportunity to assert their reign atop the conference.

But No. 14 Nebraska (7-1, 3-1) had other plans, and they swiftly dismantled a listless Spartans squad, 24-3.

State quarterback Kirk Cousins looked lost against a prolific Cornhuskers secondary, completing 11 of 27 throws for just 86 and an interception. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez didn't fair much better, compiling 80 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 7-of-13 passing.

The difference statistically was Huskers back Rex Burkhead, who racked up 130 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, but the patterns emerging in the Big Ten suggest there may be something bigger going on.

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Kyle Sparks

College Teams Mon Oct 24 2011

Big Ten Football: Divine Intervention

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There were four seconds left when the final play began, but anyone who watched knows the ball hung in the air for much longer than that. With the score tied and Wisconsin and Michigan State scrambling to avoid collapse, quarterback Kirk Cousins heaved a last-second touchdown pass 44 yards to give the Spartans a 36-31 win.

They call it a Hail Mary for a reason.

Cousins' desperation pass to a group of anxious players from both sides encapsulated the prior three hours of physical blows, but the action between No. 16 Michigan State (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) and No. 6 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1) started nearly a week earlier.

Spartans safety Isaiah Lewis threw the first punch, telling the media his defense was going to inflict physical harm on the Badgers' star quarterback, Russell Wilson. But it was Badgers running back Montee Ball who countered on their first play from scrimmage. Ball ran off the left tackle and introduced his shoulder to Lewis' tumbling frame.

Lewis would return to the game later and nab one of Wilson's two interceptions -- twice as many as he'd thrown to that point all season. And perhaps the game's most compelling storyline was Wilson's hot start, fall and phoenix-like rise. The former Heisman hopeful made positive contributions even while he struggled, making a near-perfect form tackle on State's Trenton Robinson after the safety had swung back from Nick Toon to record the game's second turnover.

But the times got tough, and Wilson gave the Spartans their first points after he was called for intentional grounding from his own end zone. With less than 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter he marched the Badgers back from a 14-point deficit by running for one touchdown and throwing for another.

Cousins had a less dramatic showing. He threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns with systematic decision-making. He was a model of efficiency and a symbol of reliability.

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Kyle Sparks

Bears Fri Oct 21 2011

Bears Look For More After Trouncing Vikings

Thumbnail image for bears.gifWell, it's hard to know how much to make of a 39-10 home win against Minnesota. I mean, really, the Vikings are flat-out awful and Donovan McNabb looks worse every week.

That said, the Bears were firing on all cylinders last weekend, doing all the things they do at their best (hello, Devin Hester!) and even a few things we have seen rarely if ever this season (hello ... solid pass protection?).

It was a necessary corrective after three losses in four games and an unconvincing win against Carolina, nicely setting the stage for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay across the pond in London's Wembley Stadium. The Bears will have a bye week to rest and recover; let's see if they can build on their most impressive win so far.

Jim Reedy

College Teams Mon Oct 17 2011

Big Ten Football: All Falls Down

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGTwo more Big Ten undefeateds went down this week. Both Michigan and Illinois had their house-of-cards offenses blown over, leaving just three teams with undefeated conference resumes.

The Badgers are ranked the highest of them, and will play both of the other two before the season is over. Those other two, Penn State and Michigan State, would not play each other unless they meet in the Big Ten championship game.

But with the level of parity as it is in the Big Ten, you have to figure it's far too early for that kind of guesswork. After a rough showing in big non-conference contests, the big losers have become winners against the allegedly superior teams. As a result, the Big Ten's stock is especially low, and no team controls its own destiny in the race to the BCS championship.

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Kyle Sparks

Bears Fri Oct 14 2011

Bears Need Better Players

Thumbnail image for bears.gifIs it safe yet? Has the cloud of national embarrassment dissipated over Chicago after the Bears' putrid showing in Detroit on Monday Night Football?

I've been in hiding for four days, but I've recovered enough from that deceptively narrow 24-13 loss to poke my head out as we approach Sunday night's -- oh no, not another national TV game! -- visit from Minnesota.

We heard Detroit's pass rushers were fast, and they were hellaciously so. We knew this was terrible news for Chicago's wildly mediocre offensive tackles, J'Marcus Webb and Frank Omiyale.

Jay Cutler spent another game running for his life, providing yet more evidence that "toughness" and "heart" are the least of his problems. I mean, he played four years for some terrible Vanderbilt teams, and this season has been a constant onslaught. As Joe Cowley put it, Cutler in Detroit was "basically standing with a lightning rod in a thunderstorm on every pass play."

I'm not impressed by Frank Omiyale, but it's not his fault he's a thoroughly average NFL lineman. The fault, dear readers, lies with a Bears front office that can barely find 22 good starters, let alone construct the kind of team-wide roster depth that every team needs to survive the rigors (read: bodily destruction) of a full season.

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Jim Reedy

College Teams Fri Oct 14 2011

Big Ten Football: Wisconsin's New Star QB

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGLast season, only two college quarterbacks had at least 25 passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns. One of those was Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. The other was relatively unheralded North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson. This season, as Newton is wowing the NFL, Russell Wilson is starring at Wisconsin, asserting himself as a national star.

After receiving his degree in communications at N.C. State and spending a spring with the Colorado Rockies' Asheville, N.C., affiliate, Wilson arrived at Wisconsin this spring to plug the one glaring hole in an offense that tore through the 2010 season en route to the Rose Bowl. And despite having just a few short months to learn an entire new offensive scheme and its nuances, Wilson has hit the ground running -- both figuratively and sometimes literally -- in leading the Badgers to an impressive 5-0 start.

Unlike Newton, who entered the NFL draft with myriad questions about his accuracy competency, Wilson's quarterback pedigree is outstanding. He throws accurately, completes passes outside of the pocket, has a strong arm, a quick release, and boasts a terrific football IQ and work ethic.

In fact, Wilson's biggest flaw might be the one thing that is completely outside of his control: his height. At just 5'11", Wilson is far shorter than any NFL offensive line he'd be playing behind. But the Badgers do him a big favor in this regard in that their offense is more than just pro-style; it's also pro-sized.

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Kyle Sparks

College Teams Mon Oct 10 2011

Big Ten Football: Holding Pattern

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGThe horse race to the Big Ten championship is shaping up more like a race of jalopies. Whether battling injuries, suspensions, unrealistic expectations or just outright incompetency, every team in action this week looked vulnerable.

Nearly all of them were faced with some degree of adversity, while they attempted to patch up holes and survive for another round of national rankings. At least this week, none of the conference's frontrunners had their wheels fall off. Just another week of the status quo for the Big Ten.

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Kyle Sparks

Bears Wed Oct 05 2011

Bears' Future Looks Murky After Close Win

Thumbnail image for bears.gifThe challenge of assessing these Chicago Bears is holding two ideas simultaneously in your head:

a) This is not a great team; and

b) In today's NFL, that doesn't necessarily matter.

En route to a poetically ambivalent 2-2 record, the Bears have announced themselves as a decent team, beating Atlanta in the opener and Carolina on Sunday while losing to top contenders Green Bay and New Orleans.

They don't play consistently well, but there's enough good in there with the bad and the mediocre to win a few games. Lots of opponents can't do anything to stop Matt Forte, who ran 25 times for 205 yards Sunday, or stop Devin Hester, who scored on a 69-yard punt return and set up another score with a 73-yard kickoff return. That duo, plus big-play defenders like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, can spark Chicago to victory when the rest of the team is merely treading water.

Yet for all their knack for big plays, at some point don't you have to win the small battles on a down-by-down basis? I watch the Bears squeeze out a 34-29 home win against the rebuilding Panthers and wonder if there is a future here that includes this team beating really good teams to win important games.

Fortunately, there aren't that many really good teams out there.

Jim Reedy

College Teams Mon Oct 03 2011

Big Ten Football: Judgment Cometh

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGThe Big Ten season is upon us, and already parity is starting to manifest itself as something more like parody. The whole "College Gameday" crew and some 30,000 Nebraska fans were duped into thinking Saturday night's game at Camp Randall would be a marquee event worth the trip to Wisconsin, while Michigan State and Ohio State squared off in what everyone thought would be competitive, but not for the fact that neither team could score effectively.

Meanwhile, the weekend's best game came from Champaign, where two conference has-beens (or, never-weres) continued their hot starts in a barnburner. Michigan did likewise in a rout, but there's only one team that has asserted its dominance on an irrefutable level. That doesn't bode well for the conference writ large and its collective bowl-game aspirations.

And so now the conference is put in a position where each team is gunning after the golden pig. But with the Big Ten intent on staying put during the recent conference realignment hullabaloo, that pig might also be the conference's only shot at retaining national legitimacy while the lower-tiered squads go on spinning their wheels in rebuilding mode.

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Kyle Sparks

College Teams Thu Sep 29 2011

Big Ten Football: Badgers & Huskers Square Off

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGOnly in journalism are you taught to put the climax of a story first. It's impossible to sustain interest that way. Unless you're a journalist whose primary goal is fitting as much news into as tight of a space as possible, you're ensuring that the majority of your audience remains uninterested for the bulk of your work.

But that's exactly what the Big Ten has done in scheduling the contest between Wisconsin and Nebraska in the very first week of conference play.

With no disrespect to the other storied programs of the Big Ten, the Badgers and Cornhuskers enter conference play with more hype than anyone else. And it's easy to see why.

Sure, Ohio State will get their suspended players back and eventually play good football again; Michigan State probably won't turn the ball over as many times as they did against Notre Dame again all season; and Michigan hasn't run out of steam quite yet.

But Wisconsin and Nebraska are the only two teams ranked near the top 10, and conventional wisdom says this weekend's matchup is just a precursor for when the two meet up later this year in Indianapolis to decide who gets the Big Ten's automatic bid for the BCS. And if we're to lend the other conference contenders the benefit of the doubt for future improvement, Wisconsin and Nebraska deserve the same.

Continue reading this entry »

Kyle Sparks

Bears Wed Sep 28 2011

No Easy Solution for Struggling Bears Offense

Thumbnail image for bears.gifThe Bears didn't look great Sunday afternoon, but after last week's charade in New Orleans, they met my minimum standard of competence, hanging with the defending Super Bowl champions for most of a 27-17 loss.

We all knew the Packers were the superior team; is there much to bemoan in the confirmation of that fact? References to last year's NFC Championship Game, as if the Bears were truly playing on a level field with their rivals from Cheese Country, always rang a bit hollow, and they sounded even worse as Jay Cutler once again sprayed the ball all over the yard and the Chicago running game disappeared entirely.

Ah yes, the running game. The Internet, at least the local tubes, is up in figurative arms about the running game.

The Bears, our beloved Monsters of the Midway, run less than any other team in the NFL and are among the worst in the league when they do. They throw more passes per game than all but seven teams ... and have been sacked as much as anyone.

This is not working; Football Outsiders ranks Chicago's offense 28th among 32 teams.

And even worse, Mike Martz's pass-happy scheme is unpalatable for generations of Bears fans raised on smashmouth football. At the first sign of failure, confusion and anxiousness turn to anger and frustration -- and we are well past the first signs.

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Jim Reedy

College Teams Mon Sep 26 2011

Big Ten Football: Everything In Its Right Place

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGThis isn't 'Nam, dude, there are rules. But then, I've no idea how to account for the NCAA, where harmony is a forgotten treasure and dissonance rules the universe. Think about it: After major conference shake-ups last season that saw the Big 12 drop to 10 teams and the Big 10 rise up to 12, this year has somehow become more anarchic. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are fleeing the Big East for the ACC, the Big 12 are having frantic meetings to try to avoid absolving while the SEC is taking more of their schools, and the Pac 12 is thinking about adopting enough new teams to become a new super-conference. Oh, and the NCAA is in no real position to stop any of them.

The one corner from which you don't hear much grumbling is the Big Ten. After introducing Nebraska into the fold last season, they've remained extremely quiet over the last few months, as if they're an exclusive club that refuses to tangle with anyone else.

And with good enough reason. In a recent article on FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver made the Big Ten seem like the trophy pig. They have the three biggest fanbases in the country in Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. Their fourth-best market is currently ranked the nation's seventh-best team (Wisconsin), and they regularly have at least six of their teams finish the season in the top 25. So they're doing just fine, thanks.

But don't be misled. Despite their overall success and enormous fanbase, the Big Ten has only ever won one BCS Championship. The SEC has six.

You can put a price on television ratings, but you can't put a price on prestige. And the way the Big Ten teams have looked in their "preseasons" of non-conference games, they have some serious work to do. Only four teams have escaped their relatively meager non-conference slate unscathed, and none of them have any flagship victories. And come December, that futility weighs down on the whole group. It's hard time stack up quality wins when one of your toughest opponents barely eked out a win against lowly Toledo.

We've reached a fork in the road, and this writer thinks the Big Ten should stop pretending they're more elite than they are.

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Kyle Sparks

Bears Tue Sep 20 2011

Luster Fades for Bears in Embarrassing Saints Loss

Thumbnail image for bears.gifThere was a point somewhere in the second half of Sunday's 30-13 loss when Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, those sages of the gridiron, remarked in alarm at the fact that Jay Cutler had already been sacked five times by the Saints.

I was surprised. I could have sworn it was about 25 at that point.

Tearing all sunshine-and-rainbows memories of that delightful opening romp from our happy skulls, the Bears found frightening depths to plumb in New Orleans, largely by finding zero answers for the vexing question of how to keep their quarterback upright for more than two seconds each time they snapped him the football.

It was competitive for a time, yes, but then the Saints discovered they could maul Cutler on every play. Gabe Carimi, the rookie right tackle, dislocated his troublesome right knee, giving way to Frank Omiyale, a deposed starter who spun like a top when he wasn't standing, totem-like, as opposing defenders tore past him with murder in their eyes.

Left tackle J'Marcus Webb and tight end Kellen Davis, my favorite player last week, had similar problems, dooming Cutler to six sacks and leaving Matt Forte (166 yards on 20 touches) as the Bears' lone offensive bright spot.

If you're keeping score at home, Chicago's injured list now includes Carimi, Roy Williams, Chris Harris and Marion Barber. But please, dear baby Jesus, before you go whining about the Injuries That Have Unjustly Befallen our hometown team, take a look around the NFL.

This is a violent, possibly immoral gladiator sport that inflicts immense bodily harm on the men who play it, and as such, nearly every team is (already!) missing key players. Just ask the Colts (Peyton Manning) and Chiefs (Jamaal Charles) and Packers (Nick Collins) and Texans (Arian Foster). Tony Romo is quarterbacking the Cowboys with a broken rib and a punctured lung!

The question for the Bears, as it is most years, is whether they have accumulated the organizational depth to withstand the inevitable (except last year) player absences.

Most years, the answer is no. But we'll see if anything has changed Sunday when the defending champions come down from Green Bay.

Jim Reedy

College Teams Mon Sep 19 2011

Big Ten Football: Success is a Mirage

Thumbnail image for big ten divisions vertical.JPGIf we stare long enough, we can trick ourselves into thinking we can see it. The seeds of the Big Ten's season, "green" in only the most premature connotations of the term, are slowly digging their roots into the unforgiving sod of competition.

Ever so slowly, they're peeling back their shells just far enough to forfeit the tiny drops of potential required to survive, and then recoiling immediately before the score gets out of control or someone gets injured. Now you see it, now you don't.

Yet sometimes it takes a whole game for a petal or a leaf to open up and make a play so that a team finds a way to come out on top. Sometimes, it takes longer.

In these formative weeks of a football season, most teams try to strike a precarious balance between getting their pieces ready for more competitive action while still trying not to divulge enough of their schemes so as to help better opponents prepare to exploit them.

This was a tough week for the Big Ten in trying to survive that balance. Despite boasting far superior pedigrees than their opponents, Nebraska was forced into tough situations at home, Iowa and Penn State were in unexpected dogfights after losses last week, and Michigan State, Ohio State, and Northwestern all burst at the seams. And still we're only seeing fragments of potential that should give us a more clear idea of what the season's foliage will look like.

Actual Big Ten competition cannot come soon enough, because right now the field is looking awfully sparse. In Week 3, only four teams looked like they might be playing with seeds that could legitimately bloom into something resembling a Rose Bowl.

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Kyle Sparks / Comments (3)

Bears Mon Sep 19 2011

Texas Fan Wins Cutler's Football & Country Raffle

Bears QB Jay Cutler's International Football & Country Raffle closed out at noon yesterday. Last night, the winner was announced during Fox's Final Word.

The winner the raffle is Jason M. Parrish of El Paso, Texas. Congratulations, Jason!

Thanks to all of the Bears (and other football) fans who purchased tickets for the Raffle.

The donations will benefit the Jay Cutler Foundation, which helps underprivileged children and children living with diabetes.

For further information about Cutler's Foundation, please visit the Jay Cutler official website.

Margaret Lovell

Bears Sat Sep 17 2011

Meriweather Looks Like Low-Risk Gamble for Bears

Thumbnail image for bears.gifNear the end of training camp, the Bears picked up safety Brandon Meriweather, waived by New England after Bill Belichick decided the recent Pro Bowler no longer fit with the Patriots' defensive plans.

Getting released isn't the kiss of death for a player, but when a three-time Super Bowl-winning coach has no use for you, it raises more than a few eyebrows.

As such, Bears fans are still sorting out the pros and cons of Meriweather's addition as he prepares to start for Chris Harris on Sunday at New Orleans.

The criticism of Meriweather is akin to similar criticism lobbed at the off-season signing of former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams. Like Williams, big things are expected of Meriweather, but some Chicago sports writers and Bears fans are skeptical. If Belichick thinks he's no good, maybe it's true.

One game is a little too early to decide about Meriweather's performance here, especially after he missed training camp. This means that Meriweather will have to rely on the daily practices to build a rapport with his new teammates and learn the intricacies of a new defense.

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Margaret Lovell / Comments (1)

Bears Tue Sep 13 2011

Bears Stars Shine Bright in Big Opening Win

Thumbnail image for bears.gifWell, that was undeniably impressive.

You couldn't often say that about Bears wins last season, even the big ones, but Sunday's 30-12 win against Atlanta was among the best performances submitted by any team during what the NFL has insistently branded "Kickoff Weekend."

While Chicago got something from just about everyone -- always a good sign -- it was hard to miss the big players making big plays:

Brian Urlacher had one of the most athletic interceptions you'll see a linebacker make, and also returned a fumble for a touchdown. Julius Peppers caused that fumble and had two of Chicago's five sacks. Matt Forte and Devin Hester each had a catch-and-run explosion of 50-plus yards, scoring and setting up, respectively, the team's two offensive touchdowns.

The defense, frankly, was terrifying nearly to the point of logical infallibility: If the Bears can continue to get pressure just with four pass rushers, freeing them to drop seven men into Cover 2 coverage (including two deep safeties), what exactly are opposing quarterbacks supposed to do? It was an equation Matt Ryan, one of the top 10 or 12 quarterbacks in the league, struggled to solve all afternoon.

On the other hand, don't be fooled in any way by Jay Cutler's passing numbers (22 of 32 for 312 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception). He was nothing more serviceable, making a few nice throws but also two awful decisions (one in the red zone) that should have been intercepted.

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Jim Reedy

College Teams Mon Sep 12 2011

Big Ten Football: They Are Who We Thought They Were

big ten divisions vertical.JPGThe inherent dilemmas soon become apparent.

After the haze of uncertainty going into college football's first week of action, Week 2 provides the smaller teams with two major advantages: motivation and scouting reports.

Because while many teams approach Week 2 like a preseason matchup, there are others that reject that notion. Teams like Fresno State and Toledo view Week 2 in much the opposite way: for them, the stakes never get higher. Their conference schedules are riddled with teams whose demise does not register on the national scale. So while the Nebraskas, the Wisconsins and the Ohio States are just stretching their legs out for the long Big Ten title run, their opponents are immersing themselves in their own personal Super Bowls.

Moreover, the underdogs in Week 2 are able to formulate game plans against their superior opponents like those in Week 1 could not. They have video of actual players running actual plays to watch and devise schemes to attack weaknesses and exploit matchups. Where Week 1 is defined by strong teams preying on the weak through sheer force, Week 2 allows the Davids to pick through film studies and find their rock to fling toward Goliath.

Sometimes, they hit. Most of the time, though, the Goliaths walk away with just a scratch, and an enduring blemish for them to self-consciously try to conceal as the season progresses.

Continue reading this entry »

Kyle Sparks

Bears Sat Sep 10 2011

If You Love Football and Music Concerts, Then Jay Cutler Has a Raffle That Might Interest You

Ever since his days as the Denver Broncos quarterback, Jay Cutler's been actively involved in children's charities.

In 2007, he started The Jay Cutler Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of underprivileged children.

In 2008, at age 25, Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Doctors informed him that he would need daily insulin shots and would have to alter his lifestyle to accommodate the disease.

So rather than indulge in self-pity, Cutler faced the disease and was determined not to let it interfere with his football career. In the midst of his struggle, he realized that his life was comparatively better off than the children affected with diabetes.

Continue reading this entry »

Margaret Lovell

College Teams Thu Sep 08 2011

Big Ten Keeps Quarterbacks on the Move

big ten divisions vertical.JPGMichigan's Rich Rodriguez experiment was even shorter than we expected. The since-fired head coach who brought his up-tempo option attack from the Big East seemed to be on the cusp of realizing his vision last season when quarterback Denard Robinson was leading Heisman talks and running up 300-400 yards of offense against whatever defense felt like strapping up that day.

That is, until Robinson got injured and then tried running through a slate of actual Big Ten opponents. It didn't take too long for Michigan higher-ups to connect the dots on Rodriguez's scheme: A mobile quarterback just can't hack it with the Big Ten's elite anymore.

That lesson might seem counterintuitive at first, because the most common (and the most apt) knock against the Big Ten's style of ball is that it's seemingly stuck in 1906, struggling to adapt to the forward pass and the offensive agility that goes with it.

That's a disingenuous critique of this situation, though, and it's mostly false. Because it's true that Big Ten offenses tend to have oversimplified passing schemes and frequently appear incompetent when executing even those.

But what we can learn from Rodriguez's mistakes is that the difference between which of these offensive schemes will be successful comes down to the difference between a "dual-threat" quarterback and just a "mobile" one.

Continue reading this entry »

Kyle Sparks

College Teams Mon Sep 05 2011

Big Ten Football: No One Knows Anything Yet

big ten divisions vertical.JPGThis time of year, it's impossible to know what we're really seeing each weekend in college football. Without any empirical evidence gleaned from actual play, an upset is only defined by our own expectations. And you probably don't need me to point out how ludicrous it is to invest in any projections of unrealized potential in a bunch of kids who likely spend half the year downing jagerbombs at various campus sororities.

The only person who does know exactly what's going on in college football right now is omniscient God Himself. But despite his best efforts to assuage us viewers and stymie the USF Bulls with multiple thunderstorm delays Saturday evening, Notre Dame still lost 23-20, and now we can all be fairly confident that the Fighting Irish will once again be awful this year.

So instead, let's focus our opening week analysis on some football that's worth paying attention to: the Big Ten.

Due to the endemic uncertainty, I'm being lenient and giving the benefit of the doubt to teams straddling the line between Contender and Pretender. As the fall progresses, you'll see the latter receive a glut of wannabes from the former. But it's the first week of the season and I'm in no rush to make enemies, so let's be generous.

Continue reading this entry »

Kyle Sparks

Bears Fri Sep 02 2011

Contract Standoff Continues for Briggs, Bears

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Lance Briggs before the 2011 NFC title game / Tribune photo: José M. Osorio

Linebacker Lance Briggs is the latest in a line of Bears who want their contracts restructured.

Briggs has three years left on his current contract. This season, Briggs will earn $3.65 million. In 2012, he is scheduled to earn $3.75 million and in his last year, $6.25 million.

He signed this contract back in 2008. And if Briggs' desires aren't accepted by the Bears, he says he will demand a trade. Briggs and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, are hoping for a new contract that's equivalent to those bestowed on other highly paid linebackers throughout the league.

Briggs is a top-100 player and the 10th best linebacker in the league, according to an NFL.com feature, and he has been to the past six Pro Bowls, but he is No. 20 among the highest-paid linebackers.

Continue reading this entry »

Margaret Lovell

Bears Fri Jul 29 2011

Footballic Ramblings: The NFL Returns

Footballic_Ramblings2.jpgWell, well, well, look who's come crawling out of hibernation just in time for training camp. No, dear reader, I refer not to Albert Haynesworth, nor Reggie Bush, but to myself. Yes, your sloven, hack NFL blogger has returned to discuss (ridicule) the Chicago Bears and to relish (relish) in the NFL's impending 2011 season.

I know, I know, it's only the preseason, but there's already so much to discuss! Spoiler: I defend the Greg Olsen trade, and by proxy, Mike Martz ("The dirt's not coming off!"); applaud not re-signing Rashied Davis; ridicule Kristin Cavallari; feel indifferent about signing Jacksonville's punter --Note: this will change; and speculate about what else the Bears will do before their Week One (9/11, Never Forget) match with the Dirty Birds from ATL.

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Brian Lauvray

Force Tue Jun 28 2011

Force Football: For the Love of the Game

Photos, video and text by Lauren Camplin and Ali Trumbull

They refer to themselves as the "Band of Sisters". They're teachers, singers, police officers, full-time moms and nurses.

Despite differing backgrounds, the group of over 60 women come together every week for the same reason -- to play tackle football for the Chicago Force.

"We have a camaraderie with one another and that was one of the reasons why I came back because I missed the team and I missed being around my band of sisters," said offensive lineman Rosalyn Bennett.

Formed in 2003, the Chicago Force joined the Women's Football Alliance after spending eight seasons with the Independent Women's Football League.

"The new league is an opportunity to play different competition," said George Howe, the team's director of media relations. "We were looking for new challenges after playing the same teams for eight years."

The league is not to be confused with the well-known Lingerie Football League's Chicago Bliss. The WFA women wear full gear and play tackle football. This can come as a shock even to those trying out for the team.

"Seeing what it takes to run a team was a shock to my system," said Samantha Powell, the head of gameday operations. "I had no idea all the moving parts of an offensive team and coaching staff, defensive team, special teams, special plays."

While many of the rules in the league mirror those of the NFL, there are strong differences between the two besides gender. The players in the Women's Football Alliance have to pay $600 to play on the team in order to cover expenses. Some women have multiple jobs along with being on the team.

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Tailgate

Rush Tue May 24 2011

Win Has Rush in Arena League Playoff Position

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Chris Gould kicks off for the Rush / Photo: Etheria Modacure

By Etheria Modacure

Halfway through the Arena Football League's first 18-game season, the Chicago Rush are looking good in their quest for a 10th straight playoff berth. In order to do that, the team, led by Bob McMillen, the franchise's rookie head coach and all-time leading rusher, will need to develop cohesion in all three phases of the game.

Sunday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, the Rush faced fellow Central Division contender Dallas, with both teams tied with 6-3 records and led by outstanding quarterbacks. Chicago's Russ Michna, a third-year pro out of Western Illinois University, squared off with Dallas' Dan Raudabaugh, who entered the contest with 42 passing touchdowns this season.

The Rush needed a victory against Dallas to remain in first place and pull even against divisional opponents this season. Dallas looked to keep its unbeaten record within the division intact. Unfortunately for the Vigilantes, they watched the Rush outduel them in nearly every facet of the game.

Chicago won, 69-57, taking firm control of its potential playoff seeding with eight games remaining in the season. Michna passed for seven touchdowns without an interception and linebacker Kelvin Morris returned an interception for a 55-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

"I think offensively, we're slowly coming together," Michna said. "We hit a few bumps along the road but I think we're starting to see the big picture."

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Tailgate

Bears Mon May 02 2011

Meet the Bears' New Strongman

paea bears.PNGI believe Ron Swanson said it best in his introductory speech before the Pawnee community art show Visions of Nature:

"This room has several paintings in it. Some are big, some are small. People did them and they are here now."

That's sort of how I feel about the NFL Draft: The Bears have several new players. Some are big, some are small(er). People picked them and they are here now.

But until we can assess the real impact these rookies will have on the field, whenever they actually take the field, let's entertain ourselves by assigning them heroic new personas.

You've already met first-round pick Gabe "The Bear Jew" Carimi, and following quick on his oversized heels is Stephen Paea, the Oregon State defensive tackle Chicago drafted in the second round. At 6-1, 303 pounds, he was the strongest player at the NFL Combine. He bench-pressed the standard 225 pounds 49 times, which might or might not be a combine record but is undoubtedly insanely impressive.

Here he is pressing that weight 44 times last year:

Paea, a rugby player in his native Tonga, played high school and junior college football in Utah before becoming a Pac-10 defensive player of the year at Oregon State.

Surely, we can find him, too, a Bear-related nickname. It seems only right.

Jim Reedy

Force Fri Apr 29 2011

A Forceful Start

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Brandy Hatcher (28) fights for yards in the home opener / Photo: Scott Renshaw

Starved for football? Want to cheer on a winner? You might check out the Chicago Force, our local women's tackle football team. After going 7-2 last year, they've won their first two games this season 69-0 and 58-0. They play at home tomorrow and the next two Saturdays. All games start at 4 p.m. at Winnemac Stadium (5105 N. Leavitt).

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Jim Reedy

Bears Fri Apr 29 2011

Bears Go Big With First-Round Draft Pick

carimi bears small.PNGThe Cubs and White Sox continued their slides and the Bulls learned their second-round opponent, but the big news around these parts last night -- you know, besides saying goodbye to Michael Scott -- was the Bears selecting Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi with the No. 29 pick in the NFL Draft.

It's a move sure to please Big Ten fans who watched the Outland Trophy winner in the trenches the past four years -- or really, anyone who watched the Bears offensive line last season. That group allowed a league-high 56 sacks, ranking 29th among 32 NFL teams in adjusted sack rate, and produced only 3.9 yards per carry, which ranked 23rd in the league.

Carimi (6-7, 314) should help immediately. The smart money has him taking over for journeyman Frank Omiyale in a starting tandem with J'Marcus Webb. Left tackle? Right tackle? We will have to see, though Aaron Schatz had a good take on it last night at FootballOutsiders.com:

I wonder if the Bears will play Carimi at LT. Most people think he's a natural RT, but they've got an old guy at LT and the seventh-rounder from last year, Webb, at RT. ... Wait, Mike Mayock thinks that the Bears will put last year's seventh-rounder at LT? Really? He was a seventh-rounder for a reason.

ChicagoBears.com promises they're not just pleased with the pick, but flat-out "ecstatic." Windy City Gridiron called it "the steal of the first round." Carimi isn't a finished product just yet, but he should step in nicely at the NFL level.

From the team release:

Carimi performed well in Big Ten action against three defensive ends who were also selected in the first-round Thursday night: Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn and Ohio State's Cameron Heyward. In addition, Carimi honed his skills in practice versus another first-round pick, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt.

"I think the kid is a plug-and-play right tackle," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock wrote before the draft. "Throw him in there and he's a starter on Day 1. And he's a starter for the next 10 years. He's got a little attitude and there's something tough about him. He's a good football player."

Angelo said that the Bears did a lot of work on Carimi and "we feel we know as much as you can know about this player." Veteran offensive line coach Mike Tice, whose son Nate also plays at Wisconsin, has been very high on Carimi throughout the draft process.

"Mike has spent a lot of time up there at Wisconsin talking to their coaches," Angelo said. "We've had their offensive line coach visit us and really we've had their staff visit us. So we really feel like we know this player very well and he really does fit the profile that we were looking for."

Just be glad the Bears got the pick in on time.

The annual exercise in televised bureaucracy -- seriously, this is hours of corporate hiring decisions -- resumes tonight at 5 CT with the second and third rounds and concludes tomorrow with all the guys whose contributions, failing some Brady-like rise to stardom, will go largely unnoticed by most NFL fans.

Jim Reedy

Bears Thu Apr 28 2011

NFL Draft 2011: The Anti-Preview

Thumbnail image for bears.gifThe year-long extravaganza known as the NFL Draft climaxes tonight (and tomorrow and Saturday), and given that we only really noticed yesterday that Carolina has the first pick, we won't be larding your brain with psychic projections of who the Bears will or won't be selecting at No. 29.

Oh, we'll sift through the aftermath, but The Draft, while not unimportant, is largely an overlong television event that's nowhere near as important for NFL teams as you'd think from its new position as our fourth major American sport. And all this for a league that isn't even operating right now.

But hey, the Bulls are off until Monday, the Blackhawks are finished and the Cubs and White Sox are a combined 20-28. So feel free to check out this annual bit of NFL Kabuki theater. The Tribune, the Sun-Times and ESPNChicago.com should get you started -- one columnist admits mock drafts are "always an exercise in futility, but never more so than this year" ... and then makes his picks anyway -- and we'll be back when there's actual news to report.

Jim Reedy

Force Thu Apr 07 2011

Chicago Force Set to Kick Off 2011 Season at Home

Chicago Force during Slaughter Exhibition

Photo: Johnny Boston

Roller derby skaters aren't the only hard-hitting women in town. The Chicago Force, our fair city's all-gal tackle football team, kick off their inaugural season as members of the Woman's Football Alliance on Saturday afternoon with a home game against the Minnesota Machine.

The Force have played for the last 12 years; their inclusion in the WFA will allow them to play other national teams beyond the Central Division.

They have three other home games after this weekend: April 30 vs. the St. Louis Slam; May 7 vs. the Kansas City Tribe; and May 14 vs. the West Michigan Mayhem.

All games will be played on Saturdays at 4 p.m. at Winnemac Stadium (5105 N. Leavitt). Tickets are $10 adult, $3 kids/students/seniors.

Kara Luger

Bears Mon Feb 21 2011

Short Hops: Ex-Bears Safety Worried About Brain Damage Before Suicide

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Dave Duerson - Tribune file photo

It looks for all the world that Dave Duerson, the former Bears safety who killed himself Thursday, might have been among the growing number of American football players bludgeoned into brain damage. At the very least, he worried he might be, telling his family to donate his brain to ongoing research about football players and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

***

Joakim Noah will be back in the lineup when the Bulls return from the all-star break Wednesday at Toronto, coach Tom Thibodeau said today. If you had any doubt how important that is, ESPN.com had a great piece over the weekend about Chicago's team defense, as explained by Taj Gibson:

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Jim Reedy

Football Sun Feb 06 2011

Sorry, Bears Fans

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Lil Wayne's Green Bay Packers are your Super Bowl XLV Champions.

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Tailgate / Comments (2)

Football Fri Jan 07 2011

Big Ten Goes Bowling: Winners & Losers

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An 0-5 record on New Year's Day ensured this bowl season would be remembered as a massive disappointment for the Big Ten, but there was some good mixed with the bad. Herewith, we say goodbye to college football -- with apologies to the four games yet to come -- with a rundown of the winners and losers from the eight Big Ten bowl games.

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Jim Reedy

Bears Wed Jan 05 2011

Dress Like Ditka

dasweatervest.jpgIn 1985, this sweater vest was one of the most recognizable articles of clothing in the country -- and in Chicago you'd still get smiles, high fives and other kudos if you sported one. And now you can. The aptly named ditkasweatervest.com offers Da Coach's iconic sweater vest for just $69.99 including shipping. Just in time for the playoffs!

Andrew Huff

Football Tue Jan 04 2011

Big Ten Goes Bowling: Ohio State vs. Arkansas

Thumbnail image for b10logo.jpgCollege football's swollen bowl season features eight Big Ten teams, but hopefully you have better things to do this final week of the year than stare vacantly at the TV for 25 or 30 anticlimactic hours. Let us help you decide which of those games might be worth your time.

After an 0-5 New Year's Day showing that's being called the worst day in Big Ten football history, the smorgasbord concludes tonight with Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Can the Buckeyes salvage some portion of the conference's wounded honor?

arkansas.gifThumbnail image for ohio state.gifSugar Bowl
Ohio State (11-1) vs. Arkansas (10-2)
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
7:30 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: Very High

Arkansas has one of the best, most balanced offenses in the nation, quarterbacked by Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett. The Buckeyes aren't the most exciting team in the nation, but they're always worth watching for sheer professionalism and a big-game vibe. Pregame storylines guaranteed to be bludgeoned into your brain include Ohio State's recent struggles in BCS bowl games, especially its 0-9 record against SEC teams, and the recent eligibility kerfuffle involving Terrelle Pryor and four teammates.

Preview information | Ohio State keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

Jim Reedy

Football Fri Dec 31 2010

Big Ten Goes Bowling: New Year's Day Party

Thumbnail image for b10logo.jpgCollege football's swollen bowl season features eight Big Ten teams, but hopefully you have better things to do this final week of the year than stare vacantly at the TV for 25 or 30 anticlimactic hours. Let us help you decide which of those games might be worth your time.

Off to a 2-0 start following wins by Iowa over Missouri and Illinois over Baylor, the smorgasbord continues Saturday with Big Ten teams involved in five of the six New Year's Day games.

tcu.gifThumbnail image for wisconsin.gifRose Bowl
Wisconsin (11-1) vs. TCU (12-0)
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
3:30 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: Very high

Two excellent, well coached, highly entertaining teams that can play with anyone in the nation? Sign me up. Oregon and Auburn set themselves apart this season to a degree, but it would have been great to see the Badgers and Horned Frogs show their stuff in a real playoff system. A historic Rose Bowl matchup will have to do.

Preview information | Wisconsin keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

alabama.gifThumbnail image for michigan state.gifCapital One Bowl
Michigan State (11-1) vs. Alabama (9-3)
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
12 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: High

The Spartans lost out to Ohio State and Wisconsin in bowl selection for Chamber of Commerce reasons, but they were every bit as impressive as their fellow Big Ten co-champions. Their national reputation would get a needed boost with a win over Alabama, a traditional power that began the season ranked No. 1 after winning the BCS title last year.

Preview information | Michigan State keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

missstate.gifThumbnail image for michigan.gifGator Bowl
Michigan (7-5) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
12:30 p.m., ESPN2

Watchability factor: Good

Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense are always worth your time, but the Wolverines were generally an average team this season. Their porous defense will have a hard time holding Mississippi State's spread offense in check. Bad news for Michigan's chances of victory, but good news for the casual viewer.

Preview information | Michigan keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

florida.gifThumbnail image for penn state.gifOutback Bowl
Penn State (7-5) vs. Florida (7-5)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
12 p.m., ABC

Watchability factor: Moderate

Two decent teams, but the best things about this matchup are the head coaches -- the 46-year-old is the one who's retiring -- and the shared history of success. Both Penn State and Florida had uneven seasons; a watchable game but hardly a must-see.

Preview information | Penn State keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

texastech.gifThumbnail image for northwestern.gifTicketCity Bowl
Northwestern (7-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
11 a.m., ESPNU

Watchability factor: Low

Northwestern has been just a mess since losing Dan Persa, one of the nation's most valuable quarterbacks. The youngster(s) filling his role likely have improved through several weeks of bowl practice, but it's hard to envision the Wildcats breaking through for their first bowl win since 1949.

Preview information | Northwestern keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

Jim Reedy

Football Wed Dec 29 2010

Big Ten Goes Bowling: Illinois vs. Baylor

Thumbnail image for b10logo.jpgCollege football's swollen bowl season features eight Big Ten teams, but hopefully you have better things to do this final week of the year than stare vacantly at the TV for 25 or 30 anticlimactic hours. Let us help you decide which of those games might be worth your time.

Off to a good start with Iowa's rousing win over Missouri last night in the Insight Bowl, the smorgasbord continues tonight with the Fighting Illini.

baylor.gifillinois.gifTexas Bowl
Illinois (6-6) vs. Baylor (7-5)
Reliant Stadium, Houston
5 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: Below average

Dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin led Baylor to its first bowl appearance in 16 years, but it's hard to get too excited for a meeting of teams with a combined 13-11 record. Illinois closed the regular season with three losses in four games -- the lone win a romp over Northwestern at Wrigley Field. Chicagoans will remember how dominant Mikel Leshoure and the Illini running game were that afternoon, and they'll need more where that came from as Corey Liuget, Martez Wilson and the defense battle Griffin.

Preview information | Illinois keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

Jim Reedy

Football Tue Dec 28 2010

Big Ten Goes Bowling: Iowa vs. Missouri

Thumbnail image for b10logo.jpgCollege football's swollen bowl season features eight Big Ten teams, but hopefully you have better things to do this final week of the year than stare vacantly at the TV for 25 or 30 anticlimactic hours. Let us help you decide which of those games might be worth your time.

The smorgasbord begins tonight with the house-afire Iowa Hawkeyes.

Thumbnail image for missouri.gifThumbnail image for iowa.gifInsight Bowl
Iowa (7-5) vs. Missouri (10-2)
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
9 p.m., ESPN

Watchability factor: Moderate

This game would have been awesome a few months ago, when Iowa looked like a Big Ten title contender and had actual Grade A skill players. Now the Hawkeyes are slap-fighting bad headlines and papering over massive offensive holes in the absences of starting tailback Adam Robinson, who was suspended for vague non-reasons (and has since been arrested for marijuana possession), and all-time leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who was allegedly living in a Tony Montana fantasy. Missouri, enjoying its third 10-win season in four years, is a clear favorite with quarterback Blaine Gabbert at the helm.

Preview information | Iowa keys to the game | Extreme scouting nerdiness

Jim Reedy

Football Mon Dec 06 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Bowls Are Upon Us

b10logo.jpgWith one final game in the books -- Illinois' 25-23 loss Friday at Fresno State -- we turn officially to bowl season in the Big Ten. Which means nearly everyone gets a bowl bid. Because nearly every Big Ten school churns out 3 million alumni each year who want to get stupid drunk and spend big money on hotels and restaurants and souvenir tchotchkes at the bowl destination of their choice.

It's all about the Chamber of Commerce, which is why Michigan State had no chance at a BCS bowl bid despite sharing the conference championship with Wisconsin and Ohio State. Instead, the Badgers end up in the Rose Bowl, with the BCS standings used as a tiebreaker over the Buckeyes, who will head to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.

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Jim Reedy

Football Mon Nov 29 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgAfter weeks of buildup, the Big Ten championship race just kind of ended without much of a conclusion. All the best teams kept winning, so they finished with identical 7-1 conference records. A three-way tie. Oh joy.

The big prize, a Rose Bowl bid, seems all but guaranteed for Wisconsin, thanks to the jury-rigged, intentionally illogical BCS computer rankings.

But while the Badgers, Buckeyes and Spartans took care of business Saturday to claim one-third of the conference title, two of their weakest rivals celebrated smaller victories.

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Jim Reedy

Football Mon Nov 22 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgWhile Chicagoans watched Mikel Leshoure and the Fighting Illini pummel Northwestern at Wrigley Field, the best teams in the Big Ten stayed alive in the championship race, sending us into the season's final week with a three-way tie for first place.

We've got all the details on big wins by Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State as we review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football.

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Jim Reedy

Football Sun Nov 21 2010

Football at Wrigley: Northwestern vs. Illinois

Thumbnail image for wrigley classic.jpgAfter all the hype, all the last-minute changes and excuse-making -- seriously, these dullards didn't confirm the field would actually fit on the field? -- Saturday's historic college football game at Wrigley Field worked about exactly as you might expect.

Before the game, it was the usual Wrigleyville beer and hot dogs scene, which is already equivalent to a football tailgate party, with a few extra street festivities added to give Northwestern and Illinois fans something of a bowl game experience close to home.

During the game, it was your basic college football game, a decisive 48-27 win for the Illini and their outnumbered but feisty fan base.

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Jim Reedy

Football Fri Nov 19 2010

Tailgate Talks: The Damien Anderson Interview

It's been a hot minute since Tailgate Talks was busted out, but for the inaugural Allstate Wrigleyville Classic*, Tailgate had the honor of chatting with esteemed former NFL running back and Northwestern legend, Damien Anderson. Anderson, who grew up 50 miles southwest of Chicago in tiny, Wilmington, Illinois and whose name to Northwestern alums of a certain age has the same folk hero-ish resonance as "Manning" to Tennessee fans or "Griffin" to Ohio State fans, spoke candidly about his thoughts on the Illinois-Northwestern rivalry, the evolution of Northwestern football (from conference doormat to conference contender), Pat Fitzgerald's impact and other footballic subjects.

As a former player in the game, can you talk about what the Illinois-Northwestern rivalry means to the players and fans?

It's everything. In this state, it's "Ohio State-Michigan;" it's "Oklahoma-Texas." The majority of the players are from Illinois and it really means so much from a player and alumni perspective. With it being in Chicago this season it adds so much more of a "bowl game" atmosphere, it's really something special.

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Brian Lauvray

Football Mon Nov 15 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgOhio State roared to life, Minnesota got off the schneid and Northwestern dealt fading Iowa a potentially devastating loss -- while absorbing one of its own.

Oh yes, friends, it's time to look back at The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football, now as always a Cam Newton-free zone.

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Jim Reedy

Football Tue Nov 09 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgPenn State got Joe Paterno his 400th win in style, Michigan and Illinois made a mockery of the record book and some title contenders fared better than others.

It's never too late for The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football.

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Jim Reedy

Football Wed Nov 03 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpg
We don't care what day it is. We're talking about The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football -- about Iowa's roaring win against previously unbeaten Michigan State; and Penn State's unencumbered run through the woeful Michigan defense; and the delightful new quarterback at Illinois.

But not about Notre Dame, because they're awful on and off the field.

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Jim Reedy

Football Mon Oct 25 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgWisconsin won another big one, Ohio State regained dominant form and Michigan State rallied to keep its record perfect.

Come along as I rant about Kirk Ferentz's inability to grasp basic end-game strategy and review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football (plus Notre Dame, I guess, though they're barely worth talking about this season).

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Jim Reedy

Football Tue Oct 19 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgIt's Big Ten Monday, unless it's possibly Tuesday already, but there's still time to sink our brain teeth into Wisconsin's big win against Ohio State and the continuing excellence of Michigan State and Iowa.

Come along as we review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football (plus Notre Dame, because they own this town).

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Jim Reedy / Comments (1)

Football Mon Oct 11 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgMichigan State and Ohio State continued to prove themselves as title contenders, Purdue showed a lot of heart on the road and Illinois earned a big win against the spiraling Nittany Lions.

Come along as I generously decline to kick Denard Robinson while he's down and review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football (plus Notre Dame, because they own this town).

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Jim Reedy

Football Mon Oct 04 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgThe Iowa Hawkeyes maintained their excellent Steel Curtain impression, Michigan State closed the door on Wisconsin and I continued my blood feud with Denard Robinson, everyone's favorite new college football superstar.

Better late than even later, we review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football (plus Notre Dame, because they own this town).

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Jim Reedy / Comments (22)

Football Mon Sep 27 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgHide the women and children, because the Big Ten schedule this weekend consisted largely of vicious beatings applied to hapless cupcake opponents paid handsomely to be destroyed for sport.

Sound cheery? Come along as we review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football (plus Notre Dame, because they own this town).

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Jim Reedy

Football Mon Sep 20 2010

Big Ten Football Monday: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgMichigan State won a wild one against Notre Dame, Wisconsin survived a visit from Arizona State and an anthropomorphic mascot was the only man capable of slowing the Buckeyes.

Come along as we review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football (plus Notre Dame).

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Reedy

Football Mon Sep 13 2010

Big Ten Football: The Weekend That Was

b10logo.jpgOhio State hounded Miami into madness, Penn State folded at Alabama and the nation saw the birth of a new college football star in Denard Robinson, whose historic day at Notre Dame Stadium nonetheless left me curiously unmoved.

Come along as we review The Weekend That Was in Big Ten football (plus Notre Dame because those bastards own half of Chicago).

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Jim Reedy / Comments (2)

Football Sun Sep 12 2010

Thrillist Puts Fun In Fantasy Football

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Nonsensical headline? Sure. It doesn't matter when you're invited to partake in a fantasy football draft at a luxurious hotel suite as a guest of Thrillist and Yahoo Sports. Which is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago as I was treated to the blush-inducing sorts of spoils and riches that kings typically get. Grotesque amounts of the delicious, sCheerleader.jpgavory, cardiac-arrest-inducing food stuffs? Check. Free booze? Check. Gratuitously attractive and scantily-clad Yahoo! cheerleaders? [cursory glance to picture at immediate right] Check.

For most guys fantasy football drafts have, in a sense, become an annual bacchanal: part bachelor party, part sports talking B.S. session and all fun; and Thrillist and Yahoo Sports! certainly ratcheted those aspects up by providing some of Chicago's luckiest sports fans with a chance at having a fantasy draft war room/man cave all to themselves. Well-played, Internet news/cultural/sports companies.

More pics after the jump. All pictures are courtesy of: Dwayne Kuan

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Brian Lauvray

Football Mon Aug 16 2010

Big Ten Bars: Indiana

Camps are in session and pointless NFL Preseason games are on tv seven nights a week. So, in our continued efforts to get your ready for the 2010 college football season, it is time to continue our review of the best places to catch a game in the Windy City.

KirkwoodNightBGKW.jpgToday's school is our next-door neighbor Indiana -- and one of the top spots to watch the Hoosiers this year is at Kirkwood Bar & Grill at 2934 N. Sheffield Ave. Kirkwood's biggest asset is one of the best beer gardens on Chicago's North Side. The outdoor patio has spacious seating, but you might have to move inside to get a good view of the game.

The bar offers a full menu and 12 beers on tap. If you are looking to take it to the next level, try Kirkwood's very top shelf choice. The bar features a unique brew of mixed berries and vodka that marinades from its perch above the bar. A couple rounds of those and you'll be ready to hop on your Huffy and head for the Little 500.

Kirkwood will have a serious conflict of interest to sort out next year when Nebraska joins the Big Ten, the bar is also a haven for Huskers fans. If the Nebraska fans are too much to handle, IU fans can also find friendly faces at Finley Dunne's in Lakeview or Slugger's in Wrigleyville.

Dan Murphy / Comments (2)

Football Mon Aug 02 2010

Big Ten will hold championship game in 2011

Discussion at Monday's Big Ten Media Day in Chicago focused on a conference championship game next year, dividing the conference into two division and the fact that Joe Paterno is still alive.

b10logo.jpg

Commissioner Jim Delaney said the conference should have a location for the big game nailed down in a matter of weeks. The Windy City is certainly on the short list of possible venues along with indoor stadiums in Indianapolis and Detroit as well as midwest football landmarks like Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The commish said the game might bounce around from year-to-year and they likely won't sign on for an extended deal at one location until after 2011.

Coaches at the media day also gave a giddy reception to newcomer Nebraska and their Athletic Director Tom Osborne.

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Dan Murphy

Football Thu Jul 22 2010

Big Ten Football is Right Around the Corner

large_bigten_feature.jpgThe wait is almost over. Before you know it campuses will be springing to life, teams will be suiting up for two-a-days and Lou Holtz will be back on ESPN making absurd predictions about the season to come. College football season kicks off six weeks from today.

After a hectic offseason, the Big "Ten" will shift its focus back to football at its annual kickoff luncheon on Aug. 3 in Chicago. The day's most anticipated guest will likely be Nebraska's athletic director and former coach, Tom Osborne. The Huskers signed on to join the conference in June, but won't officially become a member until the 2011 season. Although he doesn't get any votes until next year, Osborne said he would be around to discuss the future of the conference with his fellow athletic directors.

Earlier this week, the conference released a list of all 33 players (three from each team) who will also be in Chicago to cash in on another free lunch. Seven 2009 first-team all conference players will be in attendance including last year's defensive player of the year, Greg Jones (Michigan St. - LB) and offensive player of the year, John Clay (Wisconsin - RB). Some other big names on the list include Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi, Penn State tailback Evan Royster and defensive end Ryan Kerrigan from Purdue.

Kerrigan's teammate, Keith Smith, was picked to speak on behalf of all the players. Smith and all 11 head coaches will talk to the media and fans about how excited they are about conference expansion, how hard they have been working in the past few months and how great they are going to be in the next few months. For me, the biggest question is how they plan to fix that clever logo once Nebraska bumps the school count up to 12.

Dan Murphy

Football Thu Jul 22 2010

Soldier Field: College Football Hotbed?

Soldier_field_2006.jpg

Chicago's lakeshore Museum Campus is used to entertaining legions of Bears' fans on Sundays in the parking lots of Soldier Field. But Saturdays? Perish the thought. Still, the inexorable push for "MORE Football" has reached a fever pitch in the Big Ten alum heavy Second City and no fewer than three college football games will be going down over the course of the next two seasons (2011 and 2012) at Soldier Field. Kicking things off will be the University of Wisconsin vs Northern Illinois on September 17, 2011 and the stadium will be hosting the NIU Huskies again the following season against the University of Iowa. The Huskies and Hawkeyes met in 2007 and were the first two collegiate teams to meet at Soldier since its renovation back in 2002. Still, these two games serve as the undercard to one of the more exciting matches between two of college football's most identifiable and storied brands. On October 6, 2012, the University of Miami (Florida, Not Ohio) will play the University of Notre Dame at Soldier Field. With all of these college games (to say nothing of Illinois and Northwestern playing at Wrigley Field) and with the fact that the Big Ten is headquartered out of Chicago, it's clear that the Windy City is eager to make a strong push to host the Big Ten Championship game.

Brian Lauvray

Baseball Fri Mar 26 2010

WGN Cancels Sports Central

WGN Radio has decided to drop its nightly sports talk show. Sports Central will cease to be on April 12. Host David Kaplan will remain on-air and continue doing sports. Kaplan will now work on the expanded "10th inning" show after Cubs games.

Upon first hearing this news I was taken aback. How do you honestly cancel a show about sports in one of the greatest sports towns in America? Whoever made this decision needs to have their head examined. If it wasn't for Cubs baseball on WGN I really wouldn't have a reason to tune in.

Brian Livingston

Bears Fri Feb 05 2010

SlateV Imagines the Super Bowl Directed by Famous Filmmakers

With an extended cameo by the 1985 Bears.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Football Fri Jan 29 2010

Wrigley Field To Potentially Host Illini Vs Wildcats?

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According to numerous reports the athletic directors for Northwestern and the University of Illinois are in discussions with the Chicago Cubs regarding Wrigley Field hosting the two teams in a Thanksgiving weekend football game. The deal makes a ton of sense from a financial standpoint (tons of U of I and NW alum in Chicago would flock to this game = $$$) and lots of U of I students would likely be home in the 'burbs meaning tickets would be a hot, hot item. Wrigley Field hosted the Bears for the better part of the 20th Century (1921-1970) so the field space and logistics make sense too.

I think it's a great idea, it gives Chicagoans a unique opportunity to check out the two major college football teams in the state and it gives the Cubs and Wrigley a chance to showcase the grand, old stadium out-of-season --'cause the Cubbies ain't using it after September, am I right, folks?

Brian Lauvray / Comments (5)

Bears Tue Jan 26 2010

And A Fridge Shall Lead Them...

It was 24 years ago today. A plus-sized, rookie lineman and part-time running back named William "The Refrigerator" Perry rumbled into Bears history when he scored a touchdown in the team's only Super Bowl victory, the now-legendary 46-10 win over the New England Patriots. Sure, there were a cast of other characters who made that (rare) championship so memorable for Chicagoans...Jim McMahon, Richard Dent, and of course Walter Payton. But it the amiable Fridge holds a special place.The quality of the clip below isn't great, but if you were around at the time, it's probably etched into your brain's hard drive anyway. Enjoy.

Ken Green

Slaughter Wed Jan 06 2010

A "Sweet" Replay?

Not content to let the Bears steal the football thunder around town, the Chicago Slaughter have some big (indoor) gridiron news of their own, scheduling a press conference for tomorrow afternoon to announce the signing of a "marquee" player for the 2010 season. Head coach Steve McMichael will be joined by Indoor Football League Commissioner Tommy Benizio to unveil the Slaughter's "new offensive weapon" who is already set to wear No. 34 in this, the team's inaugural season in the IFL.

Hmmm...marquee name...offensive player...wearing No. 34. This might be a "sweet" announcement.

Ken Green / Comments (2)

Football Sat Jan 02 2010

'Cats Run Out Of Lives

When it comes to college football, the Northwestern Wildcats may be the Chicago Cubs of the Big Ten. While they've managed to make it to the top of the Big Ten standings as recently as 2000 (although they had to share that honor with Michigan and Purdue), they haven't managed to win a bowl game (their closest equivalent to a World Series) in 61 years, when they beat California in the 1949 Rose Bowl. Since then, it was a loooooong drought of winning season followed by a brief period of glory. But still, no bowl wins.

That streak didn't change yesterday as the Wildcats fell 38-35 in overtime to Auburn in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., but great play and a little luck brought NU tantalizingly close to getting over the hump.

The Wildcats trailed Auburn for much of the game, behind by as many as 14 points late in the fourth quarter, but NU fought back and converted three fourth downs during a 15-play, 58-yard touchdown drive. Northwestern kicker Stefan Demos' extra-point attempt was blocks to hold Auburn's lead to eight. On Auburn's next possession, NU stripped the ball from a Tiger runner and recovered the fumble. That set up a series of wild miscues on both sides of the ball that kept NU in the game and, indeed, seemed more like fate and destiny than human error.

A facemask penalty. Missed field goals. A roughing the kicker call. Forced into overtime. Whether actually at the game or sitting in a bar in Evanston, Northwestern fans had to believe in miracles.

You can argue whether NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald made the right decision in opting to go for the touchdown rather than the field goal in the final play of overtime. But whether or not their heart got them to that final play in the first place? Well, the 'Cats out of the bag on that one.

Ken Green

Slaughter Wed Dec 30 2009

More Slaughter Tryouts

IMG_3719eSmall.jpgIf your New Year's Resolution was to become a professional football player, it may not be so far fetched. The Chicago Slaughter will hold their second free agent camp on Saturday, January 9, noon to 4 p.m., at the Megaplex Sports Complex, 15301 S. Bell Rd., Homer Glen, Illinois. The camp, open to players 18 and older of all skill levels, will be conducted by Slaughter head coach Steve McMichael and the team's coaching staff. There's a camp fee of $50 per person, but players who prepay get a discount on tryout fees. You have to supply your own workout attire and cleats for the session at the indoor facility. To register, call the Slaughter office at (847) 310-3190. Completed tryout forms (available on the Slaughter website) can be faxed to the Slaughter front office (1-847-310-3199) or mailed to 1055 W. Golf Road, Hoffman Estates, Ill., 60169. Resume and highlight video clips can be emailed to Slaughter General Manager Alan Perkins.

"We are very excited to announce our second tryout for the 2010 season," said Perkins. "You simply don't know where the next great player may come from. Our first tryout was very successful and I believe this one will be just as positive."

Ken Green

Bears Thu Dec 17 2009

Ah, Memories...

On this date in 1933, the Bears won their first NFL championship, a 23-21 victory over the New York Giants. The Bears score the winning touchdown on a 36-yard play that starts with a short pass from Bronko Nagurski to Bill Hewitt, who then laterals to Bill Kerr for the score.

Feel free to compare and contrast to present day events.

Ken Green

Bears Thu Dec 17 2009

Hester Runs A Reverse

hester.jpgAh, you gotta love athletes. Even in this era of videotape, digital recordings and the internet, they still cling to the hope that when they say something stupid or controversial, the public will buy it when they claim they were "misquoted" or "taken out of context".

Devin Hester finds himself the latest Chicago Bear to try to stuff the words back into his mouth after telling a gaggle of reporters that he expects some changes on the team's roster after their dismal season. To wit:

"It's been what, three seasons like this? It's tough. There will be a lot of changes, I know that for a fact, and I hope it's for the better. ... Everybody sees it. There are going to be a lot of new players in probably, and some other things change around here.''


OK. Nothing wrong with that statement. Every team makes changes in the offseason, be they minor or major and the Bears are no exception. Sure, maybe Hester doesn't know it for "a fact", but anyone who's seen the Bears play this season is 97.5 percent sure they won't go into next season with the same roster on or off the field. But for some reason, when those words hit the harsh light of day, Hester had second thoughts about his frankness. So much so that he felt the need to Tweet his non-retraction retraction.

"I feel like the media blew my interview out of proportion and that everything I said was reworded or taken the wrong way,'' he said. "When I am asked, 'Will there be changes?' my answer is 'yes.' What I mean is; there will always be new guys (rookies, trades or coaches). . . . After reading current articles I feel like the press tried to make me seem like I had inside information on the future of coaches or players."


Note to Hester: When you include a phrase like, "I know that for a fact", then, yeah, it's going to seem like you are privvy to information that the regular press doesn't have. Unless you were seriously misquoted ("I know that for a fact that cheetahs can reach speeds of up to 70 mph."), key words were omitted ("I DON'T know that for a fact.") or the sentence was completely made up, the MEDIA didn't make it seem like you had the skinny, you did.

For a moment there, I thought we had that rarest of creatures, the refreshingly honest athlete. But like his kick returning of late, Hester is becoming timid when he should be plowing straight ahead.

Ken Green

Bears Mon Dec 14 2009

Look On The Bright Side

Bear logo.jpgRead an Oprah-recommended book. Do some last-minute Christmas shopping. Find out what's making that funny noise in your car's engine.

These are just a few of the things you can do now that your Sundays are (or should be) free following yet another dismal loss by the Bears, this time a 21-14 defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers yesterday, a defeat that officially knocked them out of the playoffs. Leave the reamining three games for the sports geeks who will obsess over seeing if the Bears offense attempts anything different now that the shackles of trying to make the playoffs are over, or watching to see if the team rests Jay Cutler and gives Caleb Hanie a shot. You've now got better things to do than watch another run similar to the 62-yard TD scamper by the Packers' Ryan Grant to start the game, or see Cutler throw yet another interception to add to his league-leading 22, a total bolstered by the two he threw yesterday.

Peek in every now and then if you must, but only the truly masochistic will actually sit down for the next game to see them stumble against the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday, get pantsed on national television by the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night football on Dec. 28 or struggle against the lowly Detroit Lions on Jan. 3. Consider yourself free, Bears fans, free to learn the guitar solo from "Free Bird, finish painting the family room, learn conversational Urdu...


Ken Green / Comments (3)

Bulls Tue Dec 01 2009

The 'Secret's' Out...It's Rose

derrick_rose.jpgAnd Chicago's Sexiest Athlete is...no, not Orlando Pace (although, hey, some may go for that Barry White-build). It's the Bulls' Derrick Rose, who topped voting conducted by Victoria's Secret. Rose beat out (among others) the Bears' Brian Urlacher. Which may explain his sudden outburst concerning the team's play this season. There's always next year, Brian.

Ken Green / Comments (1)

Bears Mon Nov 30 2009

I'm Dreaming Of A New Head Coach...

50784403.jpg...and a new offensive coordinator and possibly a new GM, is what some Bears fans might be singing after yet another butt-ugly outiing by their team, this time a 36-10 drubbing at the hands of the Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings that wasn't as close as even that score indicates. A "complete embarrassment" is how ESPN termed it and few people could argue as Favre picked apart the Bears defense for 392 yards and three touchdowns. Five Vikings receivers totaled 51 yards or more with Percy Harvin racking up 101 yards and one TD. The Bears' offense, meanwhile, struggled behind Jay Cutler who passed for 147 yards, one TD and (yes) two more interceptions. Their virtually non-existent rushing game compiled 43 yards on only carries. The defense started strong, holding Minnesota scoreless through the first quarter, but began falling apart as the game more on.

So now the cries of "Fire Lovie (or Ron Turner or Jerry Angelo)" begin getting louder and probably won't stop anytime soon, even if the Bears do face the woeful St. Louis Rams (1-10) next week. Can you imagine how the blogs would blow up if the Bears dropped that one?
(Photo from Chicago Tribune)

Ken Green

Bears Thu Nov 19 2009

A Trend of One?

Thanks to a relatively minor blurb Cutler broncos.jpgby Tribune columnist/blogger Steve Rosenbloom, national sports blog Deadspin has the rest of the nation convinced that Bears fans want to run quarterback Jay Cutler out of town on a rail. Now, of course we're not happy with the early results of Cutler's first season here (a 4-5 record, 17 interceptions by Cutler), but we're don't think people have washed their hands of him so soon. Most Bears fans seem to have varying opinions of where the problems lie: offensive line, receiving, the running game, offensive play calling, head coaching, general manager and/or all of the above. But Cutler as the sole souce of the ire? We're going to have to call bull...er, hockey on that one.

Ken Green

Slaughter Wed Nov 11 2009

Are You Slaughter Material?

images.jpegYesterday we told you about tryouts for the Chicago Force women's tackle football team and the Chicago Outfit women's roller derby team. Well, fellas, today it's your turn.

The Chicago Slaughter, the Indoor Football League team coached by ex-Bear Steve "Mongo" McMichael, is holding open tryouts for guys age 18 and older at the Finish Strong Sportsplex, 551 W. Roosevelt Rd. in West Chicago. The (potential) bad news? The tryouts are this Saturday, so if you think you need to hit the gym a little first, you've only got a few days to get it together. More info can be found on the Slaughter's website.

Oh, and if you are thinking that making the squad is going to be a cakewalk, think again. The Slaughter were the 2009 Continental Indoor Football League champs and finished with a 14-0 record. They take that impressive finish into their inaugural IFL season.

Ken Green

Bears Wed Nov 11 2009

Bears and Scares

Jerry Azumah is multi-tasking! Not only is the former Bear giving his analysis of his ex-team's debacle at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals over at Vocalo, but he also joins the crowd in wondering what the heck is happening to Sammy Sosa's skin. You can check out the interview here.

Ken Green

Football Tue Nov 10 2009

Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Tryouts

logo_force_white_medium.jpgoutfit.jpgTwo of Chicago's hardest-hitting women's sports teams are giving you the change to test your mettle when they hold open tryouts in the coming weeks.

The Chicago Force women's tackle football team, who made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, will hold tryouts for female athietes 18 and over on Satuday, November 21 at Northeastern llinois University and Saturday, December 12 at the Broadway Armory, 5917 N. Broadway. No football experience is necessary, just a willingness (presumably) to hit and be hit. Get complete details here.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Outfit is looking to add to their roster of roller derby girls with tryouts/practice sessions at the Fleetwood Roller Rink in Summit, Ill. The Outfit finished their recent season with a perfect 10-0 record. You can get more Outfit info here.

Ken Green

Bears Wed Nov 04 2009

Zap! Pow! Huh?

Some NFL players collect cars. Others collect guns (hello, Tank Johnson). Still others seem to collect celebrity girlfriends.

The Bears' Lance Briggs? Comic books.

Don't laugh (at least to his face). Briggs is a pretty big comic book geek it turns out, actually hosting his own blog on the subject and creating a series of YouTube videos documenting his love of the superhero genre. Below is an example of him in fullblown fanboy mode.


(Via Zoner Sports)

Ken Green

Bears Mon Oct 26 2009

What's That Smell?

cutler.jpgThe stench still lingers, like a skunk in the middle of the road after losing a battle with a semi. A day after their embarrassing 45-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bears may still be trying to wash the stench of this one out of their clothes.

Post-game reports might have you believe that this debacle was primarily the work of the grudge-holding running back Cedric Benson and, true, the former Bears back with the substantial chip on his shoulder did his share of damage to the Bears, rushing for 189 yards and a touchdown. And other accounts will point to name-chameleon Chad Ochocinqo, who looked as if he were playing a game of catch with quarterback Carson Palmer en route to 118 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

But in truth, the blame for this game belonged squarely on the shoulders of the Bears, who failed at every aspect of the game. They couldn't seem to be bothered to cover a receiver or make a tackle on defense, or block and separate themselves from the Bengal secondary on offense.

And the coaching staff, who created that dog of a gameplan? Said head coach Lovie Smith: "I didn't have my team ready to go this week." Words to be fired by.

The Bears face the Cleveland Browns next Sunday at Soldier Field. If they don't want to go 0-for-Ohio, they'll come up with a better plan of attack that the one they utilized this past Sunday. Sometimes that smell is difficult to get rid of.
(Chicago Tribune Photo)

Ken Green

News Fri Oct 23 2009

Short Hops


Ken Green

Events Tue Oct 20 2009

Gale Sayers to be named Humanitarian of the Year

During his time as an NFL running back for the Chicago Bears (1965-1971), Gale Sayers broke records and collected numerous awards and achievements. Rookie of the Year (1965), All Star Game MVP (1967, 1968, 1970), to name a few. Now he can add one more achievement to the list: Humanitarian of the Year Award.

The Abraham Lincoln Centre (ALC) will honor Sayers for his outstanding commitment to helping children and youth. After he retired from football, Sayers founded Crest Computer Supply Company in 1984, and built it into a world-class provider of technology products. Sayers, along with his wife, also became an active philanthropist in Chicago. He supports the Cradle Foundation--an adoption organization in Evanston. More recently he founded the Gale Sayers Center in the neighborhood of Austin, which serves as an after-school program for children ages 8-12 from Chicago's west side and focuses on leadership, tutoring, and mentoring.

Gale Sayers has become a role model for children thanks to his successful NFL career, his professional achievements, and his work in the community. ALC believes his work greatly reflects its goals and commitment to provide promising futures for children and families in Chicago.

The Annual Dinner for Sayers will be held this Friday, October 23, at the Fairmont Hotel (200 N. Columbus Dr.)

Vanessa Day

Football Fri Oct 16 2009

Well, Cubs, We're Waiting...

Cheer up, Cubs fans, there's now proof that it has to end SOME time.

For 90 years, LaSalle-Peru High School in western Illinois has played Geneseo High School in football. And lost every single time. For 90 years, beginning in 1919. To put it in perspective, in 1919 Prohibition has just started, Mussolini formed the Fascist Party in Italy, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke and some sort of kerfuffle involving the White Sox and the World Series occured.

Yeah, like we said, a long time ago.

So you can imagine the scene last Friday when LaSalle-Peru eked out a 38-36 victory over Geneseo ending 90 years of frustration. The victory came on a field goal with 7.4 seconds left. The expected unbridled jubilation ensued.

Ninty years. "It's Gonna Happen" indeed.
(via Deadspin)

Ken Green

Bears Thu Oct 15 2009

Bear Down, Chicago Blackhawks

They've got one of the hottest quarterbacks around in Jay Cutler and are sitting very nicely in the NFC North with a 3-1 record. But there's nothing that says the Bears can use a little of that Blackhawks mojo.

Aligning themselves with the young up-and-coming Hawks, the Bears have cut a series of commercials with the city's NHL franchise designed to boost the profile of both teams. In the sports, expected to air in a few weeks, five Bears players (Cutler, Devin Hester, Greg Olsen, Robbie Gouls and Lance Briggs are paired, respectively, with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell, Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook (Ed. Note: Surprisingly, they somehow manged to leave off our favorite and most animated Hawk, Adam Burish though his being out of action for about six months may have something to do with it).

Actually, it was the Blackhawks who approached the Bears with the idea of the commercial collaboration to raise their profile, even though the Blackhawks are probably garnering more magazine covers and video game boxes than the Bears. At least for right now.

Ken Green

Bears Wed Oct 14 2009

Bye and Bye

The Bears may have been off last week but Jerry Azumah was busy dissecting their bye week and looking ahead to this Sunday's game with the Atlanta Falcons. You can hear the former Bears cornerback observations on Vocalo, the listener-content-fueled radio station. They also discuss the lack of Bears cheerleaders on the sidelines. Like we said, it was a bye week.

Ken Green

Bears Fri Oct 02 2009

And Now Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Local Sports Scene...

Aw, c'mon, wipe away those Olympic-sized tears. So we didn't get the Ganes, Man up (or woman up) and let's get back to what matters most right now: Bears football.

It's Jay Cutler and the boys taking on the Detroit Lions this Sunday at Soldier Field and you can start the party early at the taping of the next installment of "The Chicago Huddle", the weekly Bears pre-game show taping today (and every Friday of the season) at 4 p.m. at ESPN Zone, 43 E. Ohio St. This week, host Ryan Chiaverini and co-host Desmond Clark will be joined by Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett. Live music from Chicago's Lee DeWyze Band and analysis by ESPN 1000 Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson highlight the free taping of the show, which will air on ABC-7 Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m.

Ken Green

Bears Tue Sep 29 2009

The Best-Dressed Football Show Ever?

azumah.jpgIt's one thing to talk about Bears football with former standout Jerry Azumah. After all, he did play for the team so you figure he knows a thing or two about the inner workings of the 2-1 Bears. But all that and fashion too? In one of the more unusual combinations, Azumah talks Bears and fashion on Vocalo, the "YouTube for radio" endeavor that broadcasts online and at 89.5 FM.

Ken Green

News Thu Sep 24 2009

Short Hops

  • Will he or won't he? President Obama may go pitch Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics afterall (with Arne Duncan in tow). But, as everyone knows, Oprah has the last word.
  • Whither goest thou, White Sox? Kenny Williams is trying to figure that out.
  • Milton Bradley says he's sorry. Does anyone care?
  • Cubs fans disillusioned by the outcome of this season can take a look back at the 1984 team. Not that the outcome then was any better, but still...
  • Seattle's T.J. Houshmandzadeh says he has something to prove when the Seahawks meet the Bears this Sunday. Meanwhile, the Bears seek to establish the running game. But if wide receiver Johnny Knox continues his ascent, we can wait a little while.
  • Mixed martial arts star Fedor Emelianenko is coming to Chicago in November. Take appropriate action.
  • And you find yourself...riding a bike down Michigan Ave. Musician David Byrne talks about his cycling fixation and cruising around Chicago.
  • Boxer David Diaz brings it back home this Saturday.
  • If you're participating in the sixth annual Salmon Classic this Sunday at Northerly Island, use this as inspiration.
  • The Chicago Fire prepare to honor another Chicago soccer team who weren't too shabby themselves in their day.
  • Late Chicago Olympian Willye White has a new park named in her honor.
  • The Big Ten football season kicks off this Saturday and while other teams discuss strategy for their upcoming opponents, Northwestern's gridiron gang has different concerns on their mind.
  • The Chicago Outfit close out their 2009 season this Saturday at the Windy City Fieldhouse. Get pumped up for the contest by checking out the cool video below.

The Chicago Outfit - The Latest Show Ever from Spencer M. Rohan on Vimeo.

Ken Green / Comments (1)

Bears Mon Sep 14 2009

Injury To Insult For Bears

They haven't even finished licking their wounds from their embarassing loss to the Green Bay Packers last night (more on that later) when the Bears received even MORE bad news: Brian Urlacher is out for the season with a dislocated wrist. You can argue that Urlacher isn't nearly the player he was a few years ago, but the impact his absence will have on the Bear defense is hard to deny.

Ken Green / Comments (1)

Bears Fri Sep 11 2009

Huddle Up!

Bear logo.jpgAre you ready for some...(eh, you know the rest).

Unless you've recently cancelled your newspaper and cable TV subscription, you know that Bears season kicks off this weekend. Sure, you can try and pace yourself to make it to Sunday night, but that jones for intense Bears talk should be kicking in just about...now.

So make the most of it at a special taping of the new season of The Chicago Huddle, WLS-TV/Ch. 7's weekly Bears show, today, 4 p.m. at ESPN Zone, 43 E. Ohio St. Bears tight end Desmond Clark and rookie receiver Johnny Knox will be the season's first guests on the show, taped before a live audience (um, that means you). Regular host Ryan Chiaverini will be joined by a rotating slate of Bears co-hosts including Clark, defensive tackle Anthony Adams and fullback Jason McKie.

The taping will feature live music from Chicago's Lee DeWyze Band, analysis by ESPN 1000 Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson and a local female audience liaison, selected after a month-long talent competition. Catch yourself in the studio audience when the show airs Sundays on ABC 7 at 10:30 a.m.

Face-painting, we assume, is optional.

Ken Green / Comments (1)

Football Mon Sep 07 2009

Bare Down

The Lingerie Football League kicked off its inaugural season Friday night and from all reports it was non-prissy football, given the level competition. For the record, the Chicago Bliss defeated the Miami Caliente 29-19 in the first game of the Bliss' four-game season and descriptions included terms like hard-hitting and even "Da Coach" Mike Ditka, a conservative Republican it might be noted, said he was impressed by the caliber of play (though it must be noted that he has part ownership in the league).

Still...they're wearing lingerie.

Or to be more exact, shorts and modified sports bras. With lace. And garters. Yeah, you can point to full-contact hitting, diving catches and perfect spirals. But if you're doing all of that while wearing something that looked like it came from Victoria's Secret, it tends to take some of the edge off of claims of "real football". Then there are the names of the teams in the league: the Bliss. The Dallas Desire. The San Diego Seduction. The Philadelphia Passion. It almost makes you pray there's never a league franchise in Virginia.

The whole endeavor seems further suspect with the fact that there is another women's tackle football team in town that tend to take its approach to football a little more seriously. So far, no one has solicited reaction from the Force team members on the introduction of the Bliss to the female football landscape. Who knows, maybe they would welcome them to the world of women's football. Or they might take offense at what they perceive as a mockery of the sport.

Hmmm... I smell a grudge match on the horizon.

Ken Green

Bears Wed Sep 02 2009

Dress For Success

cutler.jpgHe hasn't even played his first official game here, but already Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is getting the star treatment even when he's not wearing the shoulderpads and helmet. Michigan Avenue Magazine features a Q-and-A with JC accompanied by photos of him all gussied up in designer threads. The interview discloses that, among other things, he claims to not have had a girlfriend since college. Hmmm. Really?

Ken Green

Bears Mon Aug 31 2009

A Cutler Above

Cutler broncos.jpgSomething tells me they're still booing in Denver, but now it's directed at someone other than Jay Cutler. When the prodigal quarterback returns to the home of his former team, wearing a Bears uniform no less, Broncos fans let him know loud and long that they didn't cotton to his various transgressions, from having the audacity to let himself be traded to dissing them on a Chicago radio station.

Somewhere around the third quarter, they were still booing but probably at a different target: Denver ownership and coaching for letting Cutler get away.

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

News Thu Aug 27 2009

Short Hops

  • The Hawks' Patrick Kane and his cousin plead guilty to a noncriminal charge in their incident with a Buffalo cab driver. While he breaths a sigh of relief, his teammate Jonathan Toews is a little nervous while practicing for the Canadian Olympic team.
  • The Cubs' Milton Bradley is not happy. So what else is new? Besides, he's now the Ricketts family's problem.
  • The White Sox have lost four in a row and five of their last six. The Bleacher Reporter ask if they're heading in the wrong direction. Hmmm...let me think about that one.
  • Don't let Jay Cutler's cool demeanor fool you. According to ESPN he's a little jittery about returning to Denver as a member of the Bears this Sunday. Elsewhere on the Bear beat, Matt Forte is looking for balance and Dusty Dvoracek is looking at a doctor this Friday.
  • As if running a triathlon (like the Chicago Triathlon this weekend) wasn't difficult, try throwing cold, rainy weather into the mix. Here at some tips for coping with that.
  • While the state debates video poker, the real thing is going on in a tournament in Arlington Heights tonight. Wanna play? Ante up here.
  • The Chicago Sky host a benefit this Friday to promote breast cancer awareness.
  • Chicago - home to the next generation of cricket superstars?
  • Chicago - home to the next generation of dodgeball superstars?
  • No matter what you think about the Lingerie Football League, one fact remains: It's football. Played in lingerie.
  • With their season unceremoniously over, the Chicago Bandits wave bye-bye to pitcher Kristina Thorson, who is leaving to play for an Italian pro softball team.

Ken Green

Bears Wed Aug 26 2009

Fighting Words

In their ongoing series on "Why Your Team Sucks", Deadspin turns its considerable wit to...your beloved Chicago Bears. Granted, they do this with every team, but still...ouch.

Ken Green

Bears Wed Aug 26 2009

Welcome Back, Cutler

It may not mean much to first-year Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, but you can bet there will be more than a few boos when new Bears quarterback savior Jay Cutler returns to the Mile High City for a preseason game this Sunday night.

Of course, McDaniels could be playing it close to the vest. His arrival to the Denver front office is one of the reason Cutler is now wearing the blue-and-orange of the Monsters of the Midway. The two didn't exactly see eye to eye and made no secret of it. Then there's the little matter of Cutler's trashing of the Denver fans.

The Bears' Desmond Clark, himself a former Bronco, thinks Cutler won't have any problems during this homecoming of sorts. Denver outside linebacker Mario Haggan would beg to differ. And so would this kid:

Ken Green

Football Sun Aug 16 2009

News Alert: Cutler Is Human

OK, so he didn't walk on water in his debut as the Bears' new quarterback. In fact, Jay Cutler was anything but a savior in his first game with the team, albeit in a preseason contest against the Bills that had little significance. Ten passes, five completions, 64 yards, one interception. Yawn. Granted, his arm looked strong on the passes he did complete and showed the proverbial poise in the pocket. But if you were expecting him to light it up from the get-go (as a lot of people probably did), well, you're going to have to wait a bit longer.

Ken Green

Football Tue Aug 04 2009

Bears Living Large

In 2008, the Chicago Bears ranked 11th in passing in the NFC, 11th in rushing and 13th in total yardage, dubious marks that are only partially attributable to a merely adequate quarterback and a less-than-impressive running game. Their offensive line must shoulder some of the blame, in light of the 29 sacks they permitted, ranking 10th in the NFC.

So despite all the hoopla surrounding the arrival of Jay Cutler at quarterback, he's only as good as the guys in front of him and the Bears front office is hoping to make that core even better. On Tuesday, the Bears picked up 6-4, 330 offensive lineman Maurice Miller off waivers after he was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Miller joined the Bucs as an undrafted free agent and while he didn't fit their plans, the Bears' mancrush on big lineman make him an attractive option.

Miller will team up with a "rejuvenated" Orlando Pace, the 6-7, 325-pound, 13-year veteran who left the St. Louis Rams last season. He teams up again with head coach Lovie Smith, who was a coach with the Rams in 2001-03 and with Ohio State, Pace's college squad.

Should both of these behemoths find the hunger, Cutler and company could be looking at some big gains this season.

Ken Green / Comments (1)

News Thu Jul 30 2009

Short Hops

  • Boy, you have one inter-team spat... Even though the Bears are denying any rift between Brian Urlacher and new QB Jay Cutler, USA Today has concluded that the team is the new Dallas Cowboys.
  • Can we leave the poor guy alone? A documentary is being planned on Steve Bartman and the "incident".
  • Speaking of the Cubs, the middle of their lineup (Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley) are heating up at just the right time.
  • If the Illini make it to the Rose Bowl again, they can thank... Donovan McNabb?
  • If you join up with the Fork In The Road biking and dining group, will you be having a well-rounded meal?
  • Not only are the Chicago Fire doing well in MSL action, but their developmental and Super-20 teams aren't doing too shabby either.
  • The Chicago Huddle, a weekly Bears preview and recap show, is looking for a spokesperson to open each program. Looking at the photo on the front of the video, I can't for the life of me figure out what they're looking for.
  • The Chicago Women In Baseball League and the Chicago Gems baseball club will take their skills to a bigger audience when they conduct and exhibition prior to the start of a Schaumburg Flyers game during Women In Baseball Day

Ken Green

Bears Wed Jul 29 2009

Bears Quarterback Flashback

Tomorrow marks the official opening of the Bears training camp and with it, the kickoff of the Jay Cutler Watch, an intensive, potentially season-long dissection of the first Bears quarterback in decades to arrive in these parts not as a shell of his former greatness or a package of potential but an actual, functioning Big Time Quarterback.

Without even throwing a pass while wearing the blue and orange jersey yet, Cutler has excited local football fans like no other Bears quarterback since... well, since this guy...

Ken Green

Force Tue Jul 14 2009

Forced Out

logo_force_white_medium.jpg(The Chicago Force fell short in their bid to return to the championship game in the Independent Women's Football League, falling 40-16 to the Kansas City Tribe. Force PR chief George Howe gives the sad details.)

KANSAS CITY - The Chicago Force post season travel odyssey and the 2009 campaign came to an end last Saturday night, falling to the Kansas City Tribe 40-16 in the Western Conference Championship game. After a successful first round win over the Majestics in Seattle Washington two weeks earlier, the Tribe denied the Force a second straight trip to the National Championship game.

Heart, emotion, and effort, although never questioned and certainly vital, can only carry a team so far. The Force just never seemed to get over the hump. A lack of execution, missed tackles, and not capitalizing on opportunities played a key role in this outcome.

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

Bears Thu Jul 09 2009

Boys Will Be Boys Department: Cutler and Game Tix

This week a minor kerfuffle has surfaced south of the Mason-Dixon, in the state of Georgia to be precise, over a minor incident last fall involving Chicago's shiny, new quarterback, Jay "Better Than Rex Before I Take a Snap" Cutler. Seems that with Jay's then team the Denver Broncos rolling into the ATL for a November 16 matchup with the Falcons; Jay handed off (zing?) four $40 tickets to then active Georgia Bulldog quarterback and future NFL overall number one draft pick, Matt Stafford along with three other Bulldogs. The incident has raised very few hairs and even the typically Draconian NCAA has given the players and the University of Georgia a slap on the wrist, content to say, "Boys will be boys and wanna watch pro football games for free." True that!

Brian Lauvray

Slaughter Sun Jun 28 2009

Slaughter Win CIFL Championship; Go Undefeated

It was an ominous start for the Chicago Slaughter as they took on the Fort Wayne Freedom in the CIFL Championship Saturday night at the Sears Centre. It was the first time all season that the Slaughter would be shutout in the first quarter. If not for a 52-yard field goal by Chris Nendick before the half ended they would have been tied for the first time all season going into half time, which is uncharacteristic of Slaughter. It would be a momentum changer for them however.

Things picked up in the second half and they would eventually right the ship to win the CIFL Championship defeating the Freedom 58-48. "You rarely find professional teams going undefeated through out the whole season and winning the big game," said Championship MVP, Donovan Morgan.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Force Fri Jun 26 2009

A Force to Contend With

Entering the field four across and hands clasped, the Chicago Force mean business. In their 26-6 win over the Detroit Demolition in the last regular season game on June 13, the Force had their eyes set on victory. Now for the second year in a row, they have successfully made it to the playoffs. The team will now head to the West Coast to face the #1 seeded Seattle Majestics in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Saturday, June 27.

With last years' heartbreaking overtime loss in the finals to the Dallas Diamonds still in the their minds, the players are hoping to redeem themselves this year. They are looking to finally succeed in winning the Independent Women's Football League (IWFL) Championships. The Force has one of the strongest teams in the league, evident from the thirteen Chicago players named as all-stars this year. Among those selected are Kim Marks, Dawn Pederson, and Amanda Malsch, all veteran players that bring leadership, experience, and stability to the team. And with their intimidating offensive line, which helped them reach a 6-2 winning season, and 25 strong, young rookies, the Force has a real shot at the title.

Seattle is ranked first in the Western Conference and has gone unbeaten this season. While the Majestics will be a difficult team to beat, the Force have the drive, passion, and talent to bring home a win. If the Force beat Seattle on Saturday, they have the chance to host the 2nd round on their own turf at Holmgren Athletic Complex at North Park University against the winner of the Kansas City/Los Angeles playoff game.

Vanessa Day

News Thu Jun 25 2009

Short Hops

  • The Chicago chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America is meeting tomorrow to figure out once and for all how they should regard players of the Steroid Era in their future Hall of Fame voting. One Delaware sports writer is urging them to "do the right thing."
  • When the dust clears after tonight's NBA draft, will Kirk Hinrich end up wearing a new uniform?
  • The White Sox youngsters Jayson Nix and Josh Fields made the most of their rare starting assignments.
  • Local Iowa State and Duke basketball fans might have something to do next January 6.
  • The Fire is gearing up for its next match in the Super Liga against fellow MLS club Chivas USA Tuesday at Toyota Park.
  • ChicagoNow blogger Matt Olsen lists 10 Chicago sports surprises that weren't really surprises. Personally, I'd add the continually rising cost projections for hosting the Olympics.
  • It'll be Mark Brown (no, not this Mark Brown) instead of Gonzalo Omar Basile who will take on Fres Oquendo at "Windy City Fight Night 3" this Friday at the UIC Pavilion. On the undercard, Rita "La Guera" Figueroa has a rematch with Tammie "The Tasmanian Devil" Johnson. Man, I love nicknames.
  • Weekend warriors, get caught up with the Chicago Open paintball tournament being held in Bollingbrook.
  • The Chicago Machine hope to end a three-game losing streak when they take on the Washington Bayhawks this Saturday at Toyota Park in Major League Lacrosse action.
  • If you just can't let go of the 1985 Bears, you might have a reason to watch the Cleveland Browns a bit closer this season.
  • The Lou Malnati's Pizza Bronco team does a worst-to-first run in the Wilmette House women's baseball league. Meanwhile, it's the Riveters versus the Skyline and the Comets versus the Turtle Rock in Chicago Gems Women's Baseball League action at Bedford Park Fields.

Ken Green

Football Wed Jun 24 2009

Here's The Kicker...

As the Chicago Slaughter , led by ex-Bear legend Steve McMichael, prepare for their clash with the Fort Wayne Freedom this Saturday for the 2009 Continential Indoor Football League championship, their invaluable kicker Chris Nendick gets a shout-out for his contributions to the team from OurSportsCentral.com. To see the rest of the team in action in their title game-clinching win over the Wisconsin Wolfpack, click here.

Ken Green

Bears Mon Jun 22 2009

2009 All-NFC North Team

(Editor's Note: With the beginning of the NFL's 2009 season only a short field goal away - training camps are scheduled to open in mid-July - our Marco Scola takes an early look at the people who will make the difference in the NFC North this season. Needless to say a certain new Bear quarterback will figure prominently - KG)

OFFENSE

QB Jay Cutler, Chicago
Cutler could be the missing piece of Chicago's offense that has failed to get a playoff birth since Super Bowl XLI.

RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
In Peterson's two years in the NFL, he's already established himself as the NFL's most dynamic running back, if not the NFL's best player.

FB Jason McKie, Chicago
McKie enters his 8th season, making him the most experienced fullback in the NFC North. He's protected Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Jim Miller, and played in Super Bowl XLI.

WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit
Last season, Johnson tied Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald for the most touchdowns (12) in only his second season in the NFL.

WR Greg Jennings, Green Bay
Jennings hauled in 9 touchdowns and 1,292 receiving yards last season, and that was his first season without Favre. Imagine what he can do with Rodgers, who now has experience.

TE Greg Olsen, Chicago
Little by little, Olsen is returning to his dominant form we haven't seen since he was a Miami Hurricane. This is the "decisive" year for Olsen, (3rd NFL Season) so he will be proving himself.

OL Chicago Bears
Chicago's locked and loaded to give Cutler the best protection Chicago has seen since the Super Bowl Season. They've signed Pro Bowler Orlando Pace, cut the dead weight of John St. Claire, and re-signed Roberto Garza and center Olin Kruetz.

Continue reading this entry »

Marco Scola

Slaughter Sun Jun 21 2009

Slaughter Win Western Division Championship; Advance to CIFL Championship

The Chicago Slaughter played their last game back on May 30, but you wouldn't know it by watching them. Despite being off for two weeks they showed no signs of rust. They beat the Wisconsin Wolfpack 63-19 in the Western Division Championship and they will now advance to the CIFL Championship. Donovan Morgan and Bobby Sippio picked up where they left off during the regular season. The two combined for five touchdown catches, 198-yards and 12 catches. After the game head Coach Steve "Mongo" McMichael spoke highly of his team after their victory over the Wolfpack. "These guys prepare themselves, you saw the execution, they are head and shoulders above the rest of the league because they come to practice and they work," he said. The Slaughter went undefeated during the regular season and they are now one win away from becoming league champions.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Football Fri Jun 12 2009

Force, Slaughter Eye Playoffs

While the rest of the football world spends their time worrying if the Bears have bitten off more (or not enough) than they can chew with new QB Jay Cutler, Chicago gridiron fans can turn their attention to the exploits of two of Chicago's other squad, both of whom making a strong push toward the post-season.

First, Tailgate's personal favorites (OK, maybe mine), the Chicago Force will close out their regular season with a 3 p.m. home game this Saturday against the Detroit Demolition at the Holmgren Athletic Complex of North Park University, Foster Ave. and Albany. The Force are looking to return to the postseason, after falling just short of winning the league championship last season, and they are in a good postion to make a return engagement. They're 5-2 this season, but fell to the K.C. Tribe 30-14 on May 30. The Force will also be looking to gain a measure of revenge after losing to the Demolition in a close 21-19 defeat.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Slaughter are enjoying as well-deserved rest after finishing with a perfect 12-0 record in the Continential Indoor Football following their 49-14 win over the Wisconsin Wolfpack (take that, cheeseheads!). The Slaughter, under third year head coach Steve McMichael, can further stick it to the boys from Up North when the two teams meet again at the Sears Centre on June 20 in the divisional playoff game. The winner will play in the CIFL Championship game the following weekend.


Ken Green

News Wed Jun 10 2009

Short Hops

  • It was a rough start for the Chicago Sky in their season opener, but top rookie Kristi Toliver is taking it one game at a time.
  • ESPN Chicago muses on the White Sox young "saviors", recent call-ups Gordon Beckham and Aaron Poreda.
  • Meanwhile, the Sox newest draft picks still have that new car smell.
  • On the other side of town, the Cubs' top pick says he was hoping they would select him all along because he admires their history...
  • ...which, as a Tribune article states, has been well documented on film.
  • A golf foursome with Ben Roethlisberger, Justin Timberlake and Michael Jordan? Somebody pinch former Chicago cop Larry Giebelhausen, because he must be dreaming.
  • Chicago's long history of heavyweight boxing add another chapter as Frez Oquendo takes on Gonzalo Basile in a June 26 bout.
  • Fire fan favorite C.J. Brown looks back on 12 years with the team.
  • Add Mike Ditka to the Not-Crazy-About-Jay-Cutler (Anti)Fan Club. Did this guy kick a puppy or something?
  • It may be too late to register as an individual for the 2009 Chicago Marathon, but you can still get in under the wire by joining a team.
  • Finally, meet the man who motivated Michael Jordan to greatness (by beating him out for the last spot on their high school basketball team): Leroy Smith. (If he looks a little like Charlie Murphy, that's purely coincidental, we're sure.)


Ken Green

News Fri Jun 05 2009

Short Hops

Ken Green

News Thu May 28 2009

Short Hops

  • Wipe your tears, Hawks fans. According to USA Today, the young team's gotta wear shades ('80s music reference).
  • Not only are Derrick Rose's academic endeavors at Memphis under scrutiny, but it looks like the grade hanky-panky extends back to high school.
  • So does this SAT probe mean anything for the next batch of NBA hopefuls, many of whom will be here in Chicago for the annual pre-draft camp?
  • Answering the cries of many Cubs fans, GM Jim Hendry says the trading of Mark De Rosa isn't the problem. Meanwhile, The Bleacher Reports thinks moving Alfonso Soriano to second is one of the answers. And if the sale of the team to the Ricketts family doesn't go through, Sam Zell says "don't worry".
  • So who's the most important Bear on the team right now? If you think the answer is obvious, think again.
  • Even with deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches all over the place, Chicago is pretty average when it comes to fitness. We're 25th out of 50.
  • Someone found the Tampa Bay Rays 2008 AL Championship trophy in a thrift shop in Chicago. Well, not the ACTUAL trophy...
  • The Chicago Fire's Gonzalo Segares gets the "up-close-and-personal" treatment from Goal.com.
  • It sounds like a sweeps week "special report": Are playgrounds endangering our children? Watch "Not Just Fun and Games", a special investigative report...

Ken Green

Slaughter Sun May 17 2009

Perfect Ten: Slaughter remain undefeated

After breaking the league's single game record for most passing touchdowns what would Chicago Slaughter Quarterback Russ Michna do for an encore? For starters would break four more records. Michna now holds the single season records for most TD's, completions and passing yards. He even broke his own record for most passing yards (303) in a game. He was 22-for-27 with 342 total yards and threw for 8 TD's.

With those records also comes a perfect 10-0 record as the Slaughter beat the Wisconsin Wolfpack 67-22.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

News Fri May 15 2009

Short Hops

  • If you were looking for the results of today's Cubs-Astros game, forget it. Rain washed it out.
  • For his uncharacteristic helmet-throwing incident, the White Sox' Jermaine Dye gets suspended and fined, meaning he's going to miss most of their series against Toronto.
  • Speaking of Chicago vs. Toronto, the Fire travel to the Great White North to take on Toronto FC this weekend. Other Fire news: the team has qualified for the 2009 SuperLiga tournament and kick off their annual Community Soccer Series net week.
  • Meanwhile, Chicago's other pro soccer team, the Red Stars have a budding star with the free-spirited midfielder Megan Rapinoe. Elsewhere, ESPN shows the Red Stars some by singing out goaltender Caroline Jonsson as one of the standouts in the Women's Professional Soccer League's inaugural season.
  • Vancouver is still trying to hold its collective heads up high after being bounced by the Blackhawks. But at least they don't welch on a bet.
  • If you had a brand-new boat (and really, in this economy, who doesn't?), the Chicago Park District has given you two new harbors.
  • Yahoo! Sports has the Bears finishing 11-5 this season. Hmmm...what changed?
  • As long as the Arena Football League is gathering mothballs, former Rush coach Mike Hohensee figures he's better earn a buck somewhere else.
  • Tired of movie dates, candlelit dinners and walks along the beach? Try antigravity yoga (among other alternative and physical date ideas).
  • New video game upstart retail outlet Play N Trade opens a new store in the Chicago area.
  • Seeking to assert their masculine superiority, the baseball-playing Schaumburg Flyers will take on the Chicago Bandits, the 2008 National Pro Fastpitch champions, in a fastpitch softball game. Why am I temped to bet the house on the Bandits?
  • This song? Get used to it.

Ken Green

News Thu May 07 2009

Short Hops

  • It's do or (almost) die time tonight for the Blackhawks in their playoff series against the (boo) Vancouver Canucks.
  • Now that he's back in the fold, the White Sox' Scottie Pods wants his old number back. Meanwhile, manager Ozzie Guillen thinks the team has more pressing needs.
  • Speaking of the Sox, they hold their first Volunteer Day this Saturday. It's not too late to sign up for the event, inspired by their No. 1 fan.
  • Derrick Rose? Jay Cutler? Patrick Kane? Who's Chicago's most marketable athlete?
  • Handball fanatics, the place to be this weekend is Elgin. Yes, Elgin.
  • The Bulls' playoff run been berry berry good to Comcast Sports.
  • As if the Chicago Rush didn't have enough problems, what with their entire league collapsing, now they're accused of sticking it to one of their fans.
  • Yet another tribute to venerable Wrigley Field.
  • A website called "Ride The City" needs your help in mapping out Chicago's cycling routes.
  • From Lemont, Illinois to Venice, Italy: cyclist Christian Vande Velde has come a long way.
  • Walk with a purpose. The 10th Annual Breast Cancer Walk comes to the Beverly neighborhood.
  • Look out Robert Morris College: Roosevelt University is getting back into the intercollegiate athletics action.
  • Fresh off their victory over Kansas City, the Chicago Force take their undefeated record to Detroit to take on the Demolition in Women's Tackle Football action.
  • The equally unbeaten Chicago Fire, meanwhile, face the New England Revolution at Toyota Park.

Ken Green

Slaughter Sun May 03 2009

Slaughter Still Unbeaten: Lose Star Wideout

The Chicago Slaughter (8-0) defeated the Wheeling Wildcats Saturday night 61-38. They remain undefeated, however, the victory comes with a price as Slaughter star receiver Donovan Morgan suffered a separated shoulder early in the first quarter and had to be taken to the hospital as a result. This is a big blow to the Slaughter offense as Morgan leads the team in catches, touchdowns and receiving yards.

With the absence of Morgan it became clear that the rest of the wide receiving core had to step up to fill the in void left by Morgan. Dontrell Jackson and Reggie Gray would answer that call combining for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Slaughter Sun Apr 26 2009

Slaughter crush Milwaukee: Remain undefeated

The Chicago Slaughter continued their dominance Saturday night running their record to 7-0. They jumped out to an early 28-6 lead against the Milwaukee Bonecrushers. They led 35-6 at the half. The Slaughter wasted no time scoring in the first quarter. Just two minutes into the quarter Slaughter Quarterback Russ Michna delivered a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donovan Morgan. He finished with 7 catches for 122-yards and 4 TD's.

Morgan has a league leading 21 touchdown catches. The Slaughter are an offensive forced to be reckoned with. They lead the league in touchdowns, passing and first downs. Michna was in a groove from the minute the game started. He was 13-of-18 in the first half with 178-yards passing. He would finish 18-of-29 with one interception and 231-yards passing.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Force Mon Apr 20 2009

Force Field A Winner

With a 2-0 record the Chicago Force (2008 Eastern Conference Champions) are moving in the right direction when it comes to challenging for the 2009 Western Conference title after making the switch in the offseason. They took another step forward when they knocked off the Wisconsin Warriors 38-20 on Alumni Night at North Park University's Holmgren Athletic Complex in the home opener of their Independent Womens Tackle Football League season. The Force's PR chief, George Howe, gives the details:

Chicago, IL. - In front of former coaches, players and an enthusiastic crowd, the Force went to 2-0 with a 38-20 win over the Wisconsin Warriors. Offensive player of the game running back Karyn Silvestri had another stellar performance, rushing for 251 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. On Chicago's first possession Silvestri burst through the Warrior line for 11 yards to the Force 33. On the next play, QB Sami Grisafe hit WR Martha Dantuma on a slant pattern for the games first score. Carolyn Lee's extra point made it 7-0.

Dynamo Silvestri.JPG
Photo of Karyn Silvestri by Scott Renshaw

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

Slaughter Wed Apr 15 2009

Slaughter Rolls On

The Chicago Slaughter of the Continential Indoor Football League continued their winning ways with a 74-60 victory over the Marion Mayhem. The win lifted their record to a perfect 5-0 making them the only undefeated team in the league. Complete details are below:

Hoffman Estates, IL - The Chicago Slaughter (5-0) of the Continental Indoor Football League defeated the Marion Mayhem (3-2) 74-60 in front of 3,955 fans at the Sears Centre Arena on Saturday night. QB Russ Michna tied a league record with eight touchdown passes in one game, a record held by two other people (Matt Cottengim in 2006 and Damon Dowdell in 2008). WR Reggie Gray recovered three first half onside kicks and caught a touchdown to spark the Slaughter to victory.

The teams jockeyed back and forth for most of the first half, until Gray recovered his third onside kick of the half with 3:10 left in the second quarter. Michna responded immediately with a 34-yard touchdown strike to WR Donovan Morgan for a lead the team would never relinquish.

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

News Thu Apr 09 2009

Short Hops

  • The Great Dewayne Wise Experiment is over. Ozzie's going with Chris Getz in the leadoff spot for tonight's game. Getz says he's ready for the change.
  • Bears tracks: Orlando Pace says he came here to play with a winner; Will Cutler fit in with the Bears, and if so, will he be throwing to this guy?
  • ESPN's much-ballyhooed (never thought I'd write that word) Chicagocentric website debuts Monday.
  • If you like your sports bloody and brutal (other than badminton, I mean), you probably already have your tickets to the upcoming World Extreme Cagefighting match at Allstate Arena
  • A Pennsylvania man is biking 840 miles to Chicago to bring awareness to the fight against brain tumors and take part in a special 5K.
  • The Chicago area just missed out on another championship as the Chicago Mission lost in the title game of the USA Hockey Nationals.
  • The first-year Red Stars are looking to succeed where other Chicago soccer franchises have failed and their victory over St. Louis puts then on the right path. You can see for yourself at their home debut on April 19.
  • The Chicago Force kick off their 2009 season this Saturday, April 11, in Iowa vs. the Crush, before returing to North Park University for their home opener April 18 against the Wisconsin Warriors. You can hear head coach John Konecki discuss the upcoming season this Friday on AM 1240 (11 a.m.) and on WJJG-AM 1530 at 4:15 p.m.

    Ken Green

Slaughter Tue Apr 07 2009

Slaughter Stays Perfect

The Chicago Slaughter improved to 4-0 over the weekend with a victory over the Wheeling Wildcats. More from our Slaughter woman-on-the-inside, Kristina Wells...

Wheeling, West Virginia - The Chicago Slaughter, of the Continental Indoor Football League, improved their record to 4-0 after a 67-59 win over the Wheeling Wildcats on Saturday night. After numerous lead changes in the first half, Slaughter WR Donovan Morgan caught two touchdowns from QB Russ Michna late in the third quarter and in the early fourth quarter to give the team a lead they would not relinquish.

Photos courtesy of Evan J. Thomas
IMG_4825eSmall.jpg

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

Bears Fri Apr 03 2009

Veteran Wideout Should Be Next

Bears GM Jerry Angelo shocked the football world yesterday by acquiring Denver Broncos Quarterback Jay Cutler--Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler that is-- The Bears filled a huge need with this move and it begs the question, who made this deal and what have you done with the real Chicago Bears?

Angelo never makes deals of this magnitude. On top of that, they signed free agent offensive tackle Orlando Pace. Another smart move made by the Bears. Instead of wasting a draft pick on such an important position they went out and got a decent player in Pace.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Slaughter Mon Mar 30 2009

Slaughter Continue Winning Ways

The Chicago Slaughter put their undefeated streak on the line Friday night at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates against the Rock River Raptors. The Slaughter continued their dominance at home beating the Raptors 69-38. They improved their record to 2-0 at home and 3-0 overall.

Despite winning big at home again Slaughter Quarterback Russ Michna said, "The thing that frustrates me is we still had a few bad plays."

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Livingston

Slaughter Thu Mar 26 2009

Raptors Enter the Slaughter House

The surging, undefeated Chicago Slaughter (2-0), the city's last remaining indoor football team, should have an easy time of it Friday night when they take on the winless Rock River Raptors (0-2). But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's recap their last game, via out (wo)man on the inside, Slaughter PR maven Kristina Wells:

Slaughter Slips Past Wisconsin, moves to 2-0

The Chicago Slaughter (2-0) of the Continental Indoor Football League topped the Wisconsin Wolfpack (1-1) 40-36 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison Wisconsin Saturday night. Ahead for most of the game, the Slaughter beat a stronger-than-expected Wolfpack squad in a game that went down to the wire.

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

Slaughter Fri Mar 20 2009

Chicago Slaughter to host high school combine.

Attention high school Junior and Senior athletes in the Chicago area and surrounding suburbs. Chicago's newest indoor football team the Slaughter will be hosting a Varsity Football Combine on Sunday April 19 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The combine will be held at the McCook Athletic and Exposition Center which is located at 4750 S. Vernon Ave. in McCook, IL.


There is a $100 non-refundable registration fee. Registration is due by Friday April 10. NCAA football coaches from Division one, two and three schools throughout the Midwest will be in attendance to evaluate talent. For more information contact the Slaughter at 847-310-3190 or visit the Slaughters' website at www.chicagoslaughter.com

Brian Livingston

News Fri Mar 20 2009

Short Hops

  • There may not be a casino in Chicago (yet), but there is definitely some gambling going on. The city is now on the hook for $500 million to host the Olympics, part of the state's $750 million guarantee.
  • The Cubs want a new spring training facility in Mesa, or else they're walking. And Cubs fans want to end 100 years of misery or...they'll be back next year.
  • They may have been so-so as a team last season, but as humanitarians, the Bears might belong in the Super Bowl.
  • A unique local soccer tourney will pit the 10 best ethnic teams against each other.
  • Two coaches from the Chicago Force are probably glad the temperatures are going to be a bit warmer this weekend. They're getting their heads shaved for charity tomorrow. Meanwhile, the women'd pro full contact football team released their 2009 schedule.
  • The Windy City Rollers' home teams throw elbows in their next match this Saturday night at the UIC Pavillion.
  • Meanwhile, if you're up for a road trip, Chicago's other roller derby queens, The Outfit, have a bout-on-wheels near Grand Rapid, MIchigan.


Ken Green

Slaughter Tue Mar 10 2009

Slaughter Rules...Over Milwaukee

Editor's Note: Our new bestest friends over at the Chicago Slaughter indoor football team, namely media maven Kristina Wells, give us this update on the Slaughter's recent game against the Milwaukee Bonecrushers. Any victory over the cheeseheads is alright by us, and it provides us indoor football fans with a reason to not worry about the fate of the Rush.

Hoffman Estates, IL - The Chicago Slaughter routed the Milwaukee Bonecrushers, 84-25, in front of 4,798 fans at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. LB DeJuan Alfonzo led the team with four touchdowns, two on offense, one on defense, and one after a blocked field goal on special teams. DB Dennison Robinson led the defense with an interception returned for a touchdown, as Milwaukee was held to only one touchdown scored in the second half of play. QB Russ Michna paced the offense with 240 yards passing and four touchdowns through the air.

"I am having a lot of fun," Michna said. "It's really a great time. I was wondering what the turnout of fans would be, but it was great. And I think that helped us play well. We're confident and we were confident from the first play of the game. We know we have to be good at what we do."

IMG_3719eSmall.jpg

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green / Comments (2)

News Thu Mar 05 2009

Short Hops

  • Now that Terrell Owens has been released by the Cowboys, would he be a good fit for the Bears? And how long before he brings Kyle Orton to tears?
  • Speaking of Bears quarterbacks, a Sporting News blog says that Rex Grossman's eminent departure is bad news for Chicago. And while he is visiting Cincinnati, Dallas seems more than eager to welcome him there.
  • Sure Blackhawks defenseman James Wisniewski was as fan favorite, but Daily Herald sports blogger Tim Sassone says give his replacement, Sami Pahlsson, a chance.
  • At the risk of being labeled a Cub-hater: Seriously, shouldn't there be a moratorium on these "Why The Cubs Will Win The World Series in (fill in the year)" stories that crop up at the start of every season?
  • Thornton High School rules the top spot in the Tribune's final boys high school basketball rankings. The highest Chicago school, De La Salle, finished third.
  • ESPN sheds more light on its new Chicago-specific sports website.
  • NBA.com writer David Aldridge gives props to Norm Van Lier and Red Kerr.
  • To paraphrase Douglas MacArthur, displace cheerleaders never die, they just hook up with other sports teams.
  • Registation may be closed, but there's still plenty of action to be had on and off the course as the annual Chiditarod runs this Saturday. Shopping carts have never seen this much action.

Ken Green

News Fri Feb 13 2009

Shot Hops

  • No matter how this thing with John Paxson and the Bulls shakes out, he may not be to blame for their current state. Might it be this guy?
  • For years now, Cubs fans have been making an Iraq-like surge and turning Milwaukee's Miller Park into "Wrigley Field North". Now the Brew Crew and Amtrak are looking to return the favor.
  • One blogger sees something sinister in the fact that the Cubs' pitchers and catchers report for spring training today and the calendar reads "Friday the 13th".
  • Is Carlos Quentin really Floyd Robinson, V 2.0? The two San Diego natives and White Sox outfield stars, separated by 40 years, recently met and compared notes.
  • MLB.com profiles the "father of black baseball", Negro League founder and Chicago American Giants owner Rube Foster.
  • It might be grabbing at straws, but a Tribune reporter says Favre's (possible) retirement will hurt the Bears. Yeah... that's it... that's what's hurting the Bears.
  • ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. sees the Bears going after Florida WR Percy Harvin... if they know what's good for them.
  • No Decepticons were in sight, but a Transformer IS making an appearance at the Chicago auto show.
  • Sorry, gamers. The Street Fighter IV arcade cabinet game isn't coming to Chicago.
  • Whitney Young, the top high school basketball team in the state, continues its quest for the city title with a quarterfinal game Sunday against CVS at the Pavilion.
  • National Girls and Women In Sports Day paid tribute to college-bound Chicago prep stars.
  • Soldier Field could play host to another World Cup qualifier.

Ken Green

News Thu Feb 05 2009

Short Hops

  • Chicago vs. Tokyo in the battle for the Olympics: Might TV have the final word? If not, maybe a mural will sway the Olympic Committee.
  • If the Bears actually signed everyone who reportedly has expressed an interest in playing for them, think of the team! For now, throw T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Simeon Rice on the pile.
  • Are the Orioles fleecing the Cubs? One blogger seems to think so.
  • There's a movie being made about the Cubs (and no, it's not a disaster flick) and you can be in it.
  • While Dewayne Wise fights for a roster spot with the White Sox, the coaching staff will be watching closely.
  • Meanwhile, Sox PR chief Brooks Boyer explains the Obama Effect on the team's merchandising.
  • Gamers, now you can play with Blagojevich on your iPhone.
  • Chicago-based Salukiheads, Feb. 21 is your day as SIU comes to Chicago for a hoops showdown with UIC.
  • So Bulls fans, you say you want a big man in the middle... how do you feel about Brad Miller?
  • While the Chicago Red Stars women's pro soccer franchise signs a pair of players from Sweden, the DePaul women's soccer team brings in three players from a little closer to home.
  • Lawyer by day, Windy City Roller by night. Sort of like Batman... girl... er, woman.

Ken Green

News Fri Jan 30 2009

Short Hops


  • First, there was Barack Obama in the White House. Now there's Pat Quinn in the State House. Politically speaking, White Sox Nation just keeps getting bigger.

  • Speaking of the Sox, as SoxFest kicks off this weekend, Ozzie Guillen says the team will try "small ball"... again. And will Joe Crede join former Sox teammate Juan Uribe in Frisco? His potential replacement, Josh Fields, is wasting no time just in case he does.

  • Detroit WR Mike Furrey...free agent QB Chris Simms (son of Phil)...Super Bowl starter Kurt Warner...all rumored to be on the Bears radar. Really?

  • Does Richard Dent REALLY need someone to go to the NFL Hall of Fame committee and plead his case?

  • This is THE weekend for the Windy City Rollers, as they make their UIC Pavilion debut.

  • But don't forget to show some love to the city's other roller derby queens, The Outfit, as they host a benefit party tonight.

  • You'd think getting punched in the face and crotch, sometimes at the same time, would be high on the pain scale for a UFC star. But for one Hammond, Ind., there's something more painful: being a Cubs fan.

  • Speaking of the Cubs, they're reportedly still talking about dealing Rich Hill to the Orioles.

  • Unlike their Washington, D.C. counterparts, CPS phys ed students keep it going even in below-zero weather.

  • The Sky needs your help in sending some of their players to the Euroleague All-Star Game.

  • Wanna buy a toboggan?

Ken Green

News Fri Jan 23 2009

Short Hops

  • Trouble at local high school basketball games means new rules for fans and players
  • It's never to early to start thinking marathon
  • Try as they might, the Utah Jazz still can't get over the damage done to them by Michael Jordan and the Bulls
  • Step away from the italian beef: Chicago has a goal of going from the fattest to the fittest city in the country
  • No, smelt fishing doesn't involve taking a good, long whiff. It's a Chicago thing.
  • Taking a cue from their No. 1 Fan, the White Sox are issuing a call to social service
  • A Libertyville native gets a chance to play with (the) Fire.
  • That commercial with LeBron James dreaming of playing fo the Cleveland Browns? What if some of our local non-football athletes had the same dream?
  • A charity stair climbing event takes place this Sunday at the 80-floor Aon Center. Around floor 57, just keep telling yourself, "It's for the kids, it's for the kids..."


Ken Green

News Fri Jan 16 2009

Short Hops

  • Remember when the Chicago Cardinals were the toast of the town? Neither do we. Here's some footage to show you what the big deal was.
  • Barack Obama is a continuation in a long like of athletically-active presidents, although we're pretty sure that list doesn't include Taft. Wait, we take that back.
  • Albert Belle, Dennis Rodman, A.J. Pierzinski... we're fast becoming the home for athletes that rub everyone else the wrong way. So why NOT Terrell Owens?
  • Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija is getting used to sudden fame...
  • ...while fellow Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano nearly breaks a water cooler over the CTA fare increase (OK, not really).
  • Sox fans, the Twins are retooling for an AL Central title and just might used Joe Crede to do it.
  • Study of Sports analyzes the Sox-Bartolo Colon deal and raises the issue of the "S" word ("S" being steroids).
  • Bleacher Report lists the 10 most annoying type of fans. Did you make the cut?
  • Despite a struggling economy, the Chicago Red Stars have sold 1,000 season tickets for their inaugural women's professional soccer season. Granted, season tickets are only $99, but still...
  • Martin Luther Knig Holiday Weekend prep hoops action includes the High School Hoops Showdown and the MLK Dream Classic at Whitney Young, where you just might see some of the top 40 area players.
  • Winter cornhole league play kicks off at Joe's on Weeds Street, with proceeds benefitting the Chicago Cornhole Charity Initiatitve. Yeah, you read it right.
  • Like father, like... daughter? Brittney Payton, daughter of Walter, tries out for the Chicago Force.

Ken Green

News Sat Jan 10 2009

Short Hops

Ken Green / Comments (1)

News Fri Dec 26 2008

Short Hops

A day late, but...

  • Does the idea of "Governor Ditka" appeal to you? If so, we have a website for you.
  • And while a sports guy gets pushed into the political arena, another politician looks to athletic endeavors for relief.
  • It's a lousy holiday season for the Chicago Rush.
  • A Colts fan is thankful he's not a Bears fan. Yeah, but you still have to live in Indiana.
  • The top Chicago sports story of the year? The Cubs and Sox making the playoffs. The worst? What happened after they made it...
  • Sosa's thinking about making a comeback. Pharmacists get their preseciption pads ready.
  • The Houston Texans are thinking "spoiler" for their game against the Bears this Sunday
  • Chicago in January might not seem like a tourist destination... unless you're the outdoorsy type.
  • As the Winter Classic nears, the Blackhawks are the toast of the NHL. Their East Coast affiliate... no so much.
  • Real Serious Sports (a satirical website) has Sarah Palin throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game. You betcha.
  • White Sox/California Angels trade talks heat up, with Paul Konerko's name being mentioned.
  • But not to worry: there are top prospects waiting in the wings.
  • One high school hoops team finds a way to hold red hot North Chicago under 100 points. Boring, but effective
  • The holiday hoops tournament season heats up.

Ken Green

Lacrosse Thu Dec 18 2008

Short Hops

  • When they last met, the Packers beat the Bears 37-3. While the Green Bay tries to figure out how to do it again, the Bears are working on how to avoid a repeat this Monday night.
  • The Bleacher Report asks: What if Terrell Owens was a Bear? We answer: All hell would break loose.
  • White Sox World: Ozzie plays Alan Greenspan, Jenks shrugs off trade talk and the Sox and Dodgers start acting like roomies.
  • The Cubs announce a minor league managerial switch. No, not this guy. This guy.
  • The city's annual Holiday Sports Festival kicks off soon. This year it has an ulterior motive.
  • The Sporting News' reaction to the Wrigley Field hockey spectacular: meh.
  • Meanwhile, the Hawks' Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are first and sixth, respectively, among forwards in NHL All-Star Western Conference balloting. Brian "Soup" Campbell is third in balloting for defensemen.
  • The Gay Games and the Outgames kiss and make up. Er...
  • Sure, they have Derrick Rose. But what exactly are the Bulls building?
  • Bo knows indoor sports facilities.
  • Bollingbrook and Whitney Young are at 10 and 15, respectively, in the rankings of the top 50 girls high school basketball teams. And on the boys side? De La Salle manages to squeak in at No. 44.

Ken Green

News Thu Dec 11 2008

Short Hops

  • A Las Vegas minor league hockey team joins the army of "jokesters" who are sticking it to Rod Blagojevich.
  • The Cubs dream of obtaining Jake Peavy is dead. So what better way to commemorate this non-event than...
  • The Cubs did however add to their roster. Just not with Peavy.
  • Do high school sports still matter? Sounds like a silly question, but...
  • A Chicago consulting firm looks at how avatars might help in winning at online poker.
  • In local soccer new, the Fire's Soccer Development Academy plays in three matches while the Storm slate their own holiday appearances in the coming days.
  • Soup's on...and it's paying dividends for the Blackhawks
  • A French newspaper seems to think that the election of Barack Obama means softball will be back in the Olympics. Huh?
  • Are Thursday NFL games a "recipe for disaster"? Depending on when you read this, you may already have the answer.

Ken Green

Bears Fri Nov 21 2008

Football Performance Breakdown: Week 11

Fantasy Stud: Matt Cassel
The Patriots were on the verge of cutting young Matt Cassel. Now there is serious talk about the Pats franchise tagging him. Sure, he threw something like six hundred yards against the Jets, but anyone driving a bull dozer can still knock over a building. I promise you, Matt Cassel will be this decade's Scott Mitchell. He may be hot stuff now, but he will fail his next team.

Fantasy Dud: Lee Evans
Dick Jauron is constantly praising his young quarterback protégé, Trent Edwards. While Edwards may have lost some confidence during the Bills' recent, it is in the young man's best interests to try to connect to the best deep threat outside of Boston.

I heard people all Monday afternoon saying how they were going to win this week if Lee Evans scores .43 points or some impossibly low number. No one could foresee Lee to pull in zero catches against a marshmallow soft Browns D.

Real Life Stud: Ryan Grant
Mike Brown rocked him a handful of times. The kinds of hits that makes Grant's mother wince and eyes well up with tears. Grant was hard to get up, but still trounced us for a buck forty five and a touchdown.

Yes, the same Ryan Grant that we all dubbed as fantasy bust of the season. I recommend him as a second half trade option. He will have more good games. Grant does have one more game against the Bears, after all.

Real Life Dud: Terrell Owens
Romo is back and TO still looks tired at best. Is Owens' time as a dominant receiver over? Will his bark end up being much bigger than his bite? Do we cue the sad music from the Hulk as TO walks towards the sunset?

I'll remember his prime, dubbed over with some awful Lil' Wayne song

Marvin Benjamin

News Thu Nov 20 2008

Short Hops

  • And the Cubs post-season post-mortem examination continues, with Lou Pinella blaming that old standby, the media, while Ryan Dempster says the team flatout wasn't ready. Hey guys, sorry, no do-overs.
  • Meanwhile, the White Sox, who seems to have come to grips with their playoff loss, work on keeping Bobby Jenks around. But did Nick Swisher phone it in for much of the season?
  • Four area college soccer teams have made it to the NCAA tournament.
  • It was bound to happen after that embarrassing loss to the Packers: The "Fire Lovie" talks are heating up. Here is one blogs' 10 reasons why he deserves the ax. Meanwhile, Fanhouse questions Lovie's assessment that the Bears receivers are "pretty good".
  • The Bulls' Derrick Rose sits atop most Sports Illustrated NBA writers' list of early top rookies. Naturally.
  • It's not the major draw it used to be, but prep football is still a big deal in Chicago. The Catholic League is gearing up for its title game, pitting Loyola Academy against De La Salle.
  • A disabled cyclist bikes 1,064 miles from Jacksonville, Fla. to Chicago. His final destination? Where else: Oprah.
  • The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation gets a new name.
  • The Chicago Outfit wants YOU... well, that is, if you're a female and don't mind getting knocked around a little. There's a recruitment Q&A tonight at 9:30
  • The Onion reports on an unusual source of nourishment for the BearsHungry-Bears-Defense-R.jpg and God's plans for the Cubs.
  • If you haven't had enough of cornhole, and really who has (OK, put your hands down), there's a Thanksgiving tournament coming up called the "Turkeyhole Classic" coming up here in Chicago. No, really.

Ken Green

Football Tue Nov 18 2008

Footballic Ramblings: The Curious Case of the Detroit Lions

For those faithful Bears few who, in spite of their own better judgement and maybe, just maybe fueled by one-too-many Old Styles, hold hope for the Bears to claim the NFC North crown, the playoff berth that comes with a division title and the inevitable thrashing at the hands of "Insert-New York Giants or Carolina Panthers-here"; take a moment to forget the ugly thrashing of Sunday and consider the lowly Detroit Lions. Detroit, a franchise that has not had a winning record since 2000, is now seriously threatening to have an entire season without a win.

Beyond the cerebral cortex-scorching notion that a team, in this age of NFL parity, could go winless, the Lions have not even been close in their season-long march towards oblivion. The Mo-Town Leos have been incredibly inept in even attempting to stay in the game, week in and week out. They've held a fourth quarter lead in a mere three games and, of course, have choked away every lead. For the season, their offense is ranked 28th in the NFL; and, remarkably, that is the statistical highlight as the Detroit defense is 31st out of 32 teams, giving up a healthy 401.7 yards per game.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Bears Mon Nov 17 2008

Footballic Rambllings: Beat DOWN, Edition

If you're too depressed to go through the gory details here, a quick summary:

Bears Defense: 0 sacks, 30 points, 200 yards rushing against, humiliation of making the always adequate Aaron Rodgers look Montana-esque.

Green Bay Offense: 200! yards rushing, 24 first downs, 427 total yards from scrimmage.


Plenty more later in the week, but WOW! Bears = TEH SUCK.

Brian Lauvray

Bears Fri Nov 07 2008

Football performance breakdown: Week 9

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Donald Driver
Basic Bears fandom dictates that I should never put a Packer here, but Driver put in a valiant effort against the undefeated Titans. He caught nine balls for 136 yards and a touchdown. I've always respected Driver's game and his low low prices on a new Buick.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor
Despite being fully aware of their offensive line injuries, this once feared tandem couldn't muster 50 combined yards against the bumbling Bengals. They have been iffy every week and are slipping to third and fourth running back spots on fantasy teams

Putting up a total of 45 rushing yards? That's bad.
Being out-rushed 104 to 45 by Cedric Benson? That's embarrassing.

Real Life Stud of the Week: Tyler Thigpen
I know wacky formations (et al Wildcat) are all the rage in the NFL now, but Thigpen had one of the more memorable plays of the 2008 season. He almost lead the lowly Chiefs to a win against Tampa.

Ok, now you can ask "Who the hell is Tyler Thigpen anyway?" like I know you want to. He's the Chiefs starting QB. Kinda like the white Tavaris Jackson.

Real Life Dud of the Week: Brian Urlacher
The Lions deserved to beat us, they out played us for the majority of the game. Thankfully, we played well in crunch time and sealed the win, but it was with no help from Urlacher. His three tackles and poor patrolling of mid field did little to help us. It's no wonder that everyone refers to Mike Brown as the emotional leader of the defense.

Shocking stat: Corey Graham (a back up corner back) has the same number of tackles this year as Urlacher. For shame, Brian.

Marvin Benjamin

News Thu Nov 06 2008

Short Hops

While some of you might be ODing on BO (that's Barack Obama), there are others who can't get enough. So for them...

  • ESPN's Lester Munson discusses the effect of Obama's election on the sports world...
  • ...while the New York Daily News does the same.
  • Fellow former South Sider Donovan McNabb can relate to Obama's Chicago experience.
  • Sox fans now have a friend in the White House.
  • Now that the campaigning is over, it's back to the gym for Obama.
  • Finally, the Trib's Mike Downey gives a glimpse of Obama's first 100 days.
  • DePaul offers a four-credit course on the Cubs. Wonder if it's Pass/Fail, Fail, Fail, Fail, Fail... (Sorry, couldn't help it.)
  • It looks like a long season for fans of UIC and Loyola men's hoops. One prediction has them finishing 6th and 7th, respectively, in the Horizon League.
  • The Chicago Slaughter indoor football team will host open tryouts this Sunday. The head coach? Steve "Mongo" McMichael.
  • OK, sorry, one more Obama item, this time a three-on-three game he took part in in Indiana. Gotta admit, for a chief executive, he's got some moves.:

Ken Green

Bears Mon Nov 03 2008

Not This Again

Rex? Starting again? Really?

Losing Kyle Orton is like having your car break down. The issue isn't with you not having you car, it's dealing with having to ride your bike to work. The unreliable contingency plan can make any one uneasy.

Sometimes, you catch good luck. There's little traffic, the weather is good and you seem to get to work in great time. Sometimes, perhaps like next Sunday, you might have to ride through a snowstorm traffic jam. Enter said snowstorm traffic jam.

Any of us Bears fans can rant all week about this horrifying development, but it's exhausting. The close games this season alone have taken too much of a toll on me to start complaining about this new predicament. That's not to say I'm feeling good after we were doled out this bad hand, losing our potential savior in Orton.

The same arguments against Rex we've been using for five years still ring true. I don't need to reiterate those painfully familiar points. It's funny how a simple ankle sprain may have knocked us out of the playoffs. That's not pessimism, that's being realistic. Rex's body of work has taught us to be nothing but cautious and worried.

I'll be sitting around next Sunday afternoon watching the biggest game of the Bears season coming up against the undefeated Titans. I actually think that we have a realistic chance of beating the undefeated Titans (pending our defensive execution, but that's another story all together). Thanks to Rex, come Sunday, I'm certain I'll be sighing excessively. It is, as of yet, indeterminable if those will be sighs of relief or disappointment.

Marvin Benjamin

Bears Fri Oct 31 2008

Three And Doubt: Orton Proving Them Wrong

At the risk of having to admit I was wrong, with regards to Bears quarterback Kyle Orton, well, I was wrong.

There. I've said it. Never though I would, but there you have it.

It takes a big man to admit that he is wrong, and at 6-3, 226, I figured it was about time. See, there's this thing I wrote here a while back, that was typed out with such conviction that I figured there was no way it wouldn't come to pass (no pun intended). I mean Kyle Orton? Starting NFL quarterback? Fifth in the NFC in passer rating (91.4), better than Eli Manning, Jake Delhomme and Marc Bulger? Averaging 238 yards per game? Fifth in the conference in touchdowns with 10 and only four interceptions? That's Kyle Orton? Seriously?

Yeah, seriously, which makes my "prediction" not worth the paper it's not printed on. (Note to Gapers Block editors/webmasters: Consider deleting all postings a week after they've gone up to save, you know, space or something).

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green

Football Wed Oct 29 2008

Football performance breakdown: Week 8

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Santana Moss
Lil' Moss is a player I make a habit to avoid every year. Even when he was slipping into round ten and later, I'd rather take a foolish stab at James Hardy or DJ Hackett then invest in the inconsistent Moss. Santana sought to personally prove me wrong by catching 9 balls for 140 yards with a TD as well as an especially spectacular 80-yard punt return TD.

While I am happy he is succeeding, I wish he wouldn't shame me this bad. Not cool, Santana. Total douche move.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Michael Turner/Brandon Jacobss
In must win games, never bet against a Philly or Pittsburgh. For future reference, don't start your running backs against the Eagles or Pittsburgh. It's not easy to win in Pennsylvania.

The same applies to the election

Real Life Stud of the Week: Leonard Weaver
104% of football fans have no idea who Weaver is. Weaver, a big fullback, single-handedly beat the Niners with 4 catches, 116 yards and 2 TDs. Considering he is a big boy, this stat line has to be the biggest anomaly this season.

No wait, nothing beats LenDale White's 80-yard run a week previous. That run broke fundamental laws of motion, rocking the physics world and baffling scientists worldwide.

Real Life Dud of the Week: Vernon Davis
Everyone has heard about Davis (bust in the making) slapping a defender in the face (mask) and the ensuing verbal tirade from new head coach Mike Singletary. I won't bore you with the details, but I do want to point out how stupid Vernon is.

Legend has it that during his playing days at Baylor, Samurai Mike broke 16 of his own helmets because he hit so hard. This is the last man on Earth you want to upset, Vern, I assure you.

Marvin Benjamin / Comments (2)

Football Fri Oct 24 2008

The Boy Who Cried "Staph".

I have been a fan of Kellen Winslow Jr. since his days at the U of Miami. Oddly enough, I tend to dislike loudmouth, cocky and arrogant players. I like class acts, guys who keep their nose to the grindstone and eye on the brass ring.

I like Tim Duncan more than Garnett. Call me boring.

However, I have always backed Kellen through the countless things he has said and done. When said he would kill some Tennessee Volunteers in the name of the U, I thought to myself "hey, if they were trying to kill me, I would try to kill them first too". When he lost a season to an injury sustained after a reckless motorcycle accident, I reminded myself that motorcycles are super fun and awesome. So what's the big deal?

Kellen has always been one who doesn't know how to hold back, and I've always been willing to overlook that because his all-world talent supersedes his big mouth. After being hospitalized because of a dirty locker room, Kellen actually has something to complain about. However, no one listens because sports society has grown so tired of his antics.

I, for one, believe Junior. It seems that this suspension is based entirely on Kellen blabbing on something he was asked to cover up. Six different players with staph infections in one year is a lot. It's especially horrifying when reading the symptoms on WebMD. A football locker room is filthy, everything is coated in mud, sweat, blood and more sweat. Everyone walks around naked too. These things are bound to happen with out proper cleaning.

Kellen isn't the most credible opinion in sports, but this sounds legitimate to me. We won't listen to Ron Artest if he said someone stole his wallet because he's an ass. A lot of people won't care that Rasheed Wallace complains about unjustified technicals because of how many justified technicals his attitude earned him. I give Kellen the benefit of the doubt because this sounds like a real conspiracy-nut cover-up.

Plus, the Browns are a somewhat shitty organization, so I tend to go against Phil Savage and crew are saying. I'm gonna go with Kellen on this one and remember not to take my pants off in Browns Stadium.

Marvin Benjamin

News Thu Oct 23 2008

Short Hops

  • Not a big fan of the ultimate fighting myself (Saturday nights in Wrigleyville about 10 years ago... Been there, done that). But for those who are, this is a big weekend in UFC-land, including a weight-in and Q&A open to the fans on Friday at the Chicago Theater. The main event, of course, is Saturday at the Allstate Arena.
  • If you think you want to give it a shot yourself, there are tryouts on Monday. Note: There will be blood.
  • Not to be outdone, UFC's bastard cousin, pro wrestling, has a bunch of events lined up in the coming days as well on the local level.
  • USA Today is as surprised at Kyle Orton as we are.
  • A Chicago woman is at the center of a controversy on how marathons are timed. The recent Chicago Marathon also has a mini-controversy base on the timing system.
  • Chicago State University has a new AD and a new conference.
  • A new fan joins Bear Nation...but hangs on to his Detroit Lion allegiance. Why?
  • Cool Hunting has a story on Chicago's new Dutch Bike shop.
  • The Windy City Rollers crack the seal on their new home, the UIC Pavilion, with a match against the Carolina Rollergirls. Oh, and there's supposed to be free beer!
  • The bye-week Bears talk about their scariest Halloween costumes. Probably not as scary as their game against Atlanta, but still...

Ken Green

Football Thu Oct 23 2008

Football performance breakdown: Week 7

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Steven Jackson

Jackson made interim coach Jim Haslett look good with a thorough trouncing of the drowning Dallas Cowboys. He ran for a very impressive 160 yards and had three TDs. He runs just as hard as anyone in the NFL. He seems to try to work through extra invisible defenders for drama's sake. Jackson is incapable of running in a straight line, he flops around like a buffalo with a broken neck.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: LaDainian Tomlinson.

You remember that guy in your draft that got the first pick overall well, don't you? As soon as he drew a little piece of paper labled "ONE" out of a sweat stained hat, you can see the smug smirk that said to the other draft participants "I will win this league outright".

Guess what? That guy is screwed. People complained that LT doesn't get the ball enough. He had 20 touches and amassed a pitiful 67 yards. It's hard to determine if time is finally starting to get the best of the dynamic Mr. Tomlinson, but he is ruining fantasy seasons world wide. Let's hope that he doesn't pull a Shaun Alexander.

Real Life Stud of the Week: Clinton Portis

Portis is not just the savior of my big money league but is single handedly bringing the Redskins legitimate contender status. Portis effortlessly rushed for 175 yards and TD. He's acting like a true team leader and, at this point, is my favorite to be MVP this season. That's right. A guy who dresses like this or this off the field will be MVP this year. You heard it here first.

Real Life Dud of the Week: Mike Nolan

How a coach with a top five running back, top five middle line backer, a top five corner back and an owner willing to spend big money to win not put together a few wins? Mike Nolan was an awful coach, one that deserves to be forgotten and be tucked away as a Defensive Coordinator for a lousy football school like Duke.

Happy Trails, Mike. San Fran won't miss you or your Reebok suits.

Marvin Benjamin

News Fri Oct 17 2008

Short Hops

  • The Minnesota Vikings' Bernard Berrian expects boos when he returns to this old stomping grounds at Soldier Field this Sunday. C'mon Bears fans, don't let him down.
  • If his contract doesn't discourage the White Sox from resigning him, Ken Griffey Jr.'s recent knee surgery might.
  • Evanston remembers one of his favorite sons, former MLB pitcher Kevin Foster.
  • Speaking of favorite sons, new Wolves head coach Don Granato is happy to be back home as he prepared for the team's home opener Saturday night.
  • Remember the Cubs' "fan" who tried to auction off his loyalty on eBay? He may have found a buyer and a kindred spirit in the Boston Red Sox.
  • In the battle of sports radio on Chicago (well, it's actually just a two-horse race), WSCR-AM has taken the lead.
  • De La Salle's Mike Shaw is being touted by ESPN as the "next big thing" in Chicago high school basketball.
  • Even if you're not entered in this weekend Urbanathlon, you can still go down and enjoy the party.
  • The Windy City Rollers are holding tryouts. If you think you have what it takes (and can come up with a clever alias like "Val Capone" or "Lucy Furr"), come to a scrimmage preview on Monday. Incidentially, the WCR All-Stars made it to the national finals in Portland, Oregon.

Ken Green

Football Thu Oct 16 2008

R.I.P Chris Mims

Just yesterday, former NFL player Chris Mims was found dead in his downtown Los Angeles apartment. He was 38.

Being honest, I really don't remember Chris Mims very well. I remember the name and, reading into his story, realized he was a talented and troubled player. While he may be an afterthought in most peoples minds, myself not excluded, I know that he deserve the slandering depiction that AP gave him. In a short, half page article, his faults were brazenly pointed out. AP didn't hesitate to point out that he was constantly over weight. They could never overlook his poor driving record, littered with DUIs and violations. The best yet was this short quote:

"In 1999, a man claimed Mims attacked him outside a fast-food restaurant and stole his tacos."

I understand this was a news story in this sad sap's life, but come on! Instead of remembering this poor young man that died before his time as a player, we remember as a fat drunk taco thief. Way to go AP, I'm sure Momma Mims respects the lovely portrayal of her dead son.

This isn't just another case of intentionally playing on words on a small mistake for readership's sake, this is sculpting a dead man's legacy. I'm sure most people will posthumously remember Mims as a welfare check-cashing, Mexican food stealing, drunk driving fiend as opposed to decent player. That is, if people remember him at all.

Marvin Benjamin

News Wed Oct 15 2008

That's The Ticket... Or Not

cubsseatingchart.jpgIt doesn't help that the economy is currently in or headed directly for the proverbial crapper, but the price of tickets to sporting events show no sign of coming down to meet the slightly thinner pockets of the buying public, according to an article on "Medill Reports".

Currently, the average ticket to a Cubs' game rose to $42.49 in 2008, according to the report, a 42 percent increase from 2004. And that two-parents-two-kids-at-the-game measuring stick they're always using in the yearly reports on how much a day at the ballgame will cost (officially known as the Fan Cost Index)? This season it was $251.96 for a Cubs game. And it doesn't appear likely to come down even with the "occurances" of this past season.

The Bears were the most expensive ticket in town at an average price of $88.33. The White Sox were a better baseball bargain with an average ticket price of $30.28 and an FCI of $214.61. The Blackhawks were the city's best professional sports value at $34.88, although that could change next year if the team makes the progress everyone expects.

Ken Green

Bears Tue Oct 14 2008

Football performance breakdown: Week 6

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Philip Rivers

I never was a Rivers fan, but he is saving my season and setting secondaries ablaze. Who would have figured he would have thrown 306 and 3 tuddies (with no INTs) against the New England defense? It's not like the absence of that handsome scamp Tom Brady should have made the defense that much worse.

There are Chargers and there are Super Chargers. Super Chargers are the types of warriors that songs are written about. Rivers is of the latter.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Eli Manning

Eli reaffirmed his position as the lesser of the brothers Manning by tossing away a gimme win on Monday night. His three interceptions cost the reigning champs a win over the struggling Browns. What's embarrassing is he threw those three interceptions to players you have probably never heard of. More embarrassing yet, I started Eli over Philip Rivers.

Real Life Stud of the Week: Mario Williams

Mario Williams is not just showing the world that he was worth that first pick overall and all that money, but is slowly convincing pundits that he is the best end in football. He had two sacks and fumble forced and helped his Texans get their first win. Mario Williams eats good quarterbacks and craps out David Carrs.

Real Life Dud of the Week: Cedric Benson

Yeah, I said "Cedric Benson"! He rushed for a paltry six yards against a painfully so-so Jets defense. His team really could have used a spark from the running game and he disappointed in typical Benson fashion. His eternal rival, Thomas Jones, helped the Jets destroy Benson's Bengals with three touchdowns.

And yes, I will continue to beat this dead horse until there is no horse left

Marvin Benjamin

Bears Tue Oct 14 2008

Metcalf Mess Adds to Bears Woes

200px-Terrence_Metcalf_in_2007.jpgAs if the Bears' now-you-see-it-now-you-don't victoryloss (a new word coined just for Lovie Smith's boys) to the Atlanta Falcons weren't enough of a bummer, guard Terrance Metcalf has been suspended for four games for violating the league's steroid policy. Metcalf, who had won the starting guard job and appeared in every game so far this season, denies he used anabolic steroids, while Smith says, "When you make a mistake like that, there are consequences that go with it," indicating there seems to be a difference of opinion on whether Metcalf broke the rule intentionally or not. In his defense, Metcalf didn't test positive for steroids, only a diuretic which is often used to hide steroids.

Ken Green

Bears Wed Oct 08 2008

Football performance breakdown: Week 5

Fantasy Stud of the Week: DeAngelo Williams
While there wasn't a monster performance this week, but perennial waiver pick up DeAngelo Williams sealed a victory for the Panthers against the lowly Chiefs. His three total touchdowns helped a small minority of fantasy owners brave enough to start him. That start was almost as brave as picking your nose while in a live studio audience. You know despite how much you want to, you will end up on You Tube.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Ryan Grant
In what should have been a gimme 100 yard game against the Falcons. Instead, he rushes for 84 pitiful yards and has yet to eclipse 20 fantasy points. He is definitely looking like this year's Michael Clayton: amazing rookie year, horrible second year that ruins my fantasy team and, thusly, contributes to me losing my precious pool buy in.

Real Life Stud of the Week: Kyle Orton
I really don't need to point out what he did on the field. I won't discredit him picking apart the Lions like vultures would a man with no legs crawling through the desert. I'm more shocked that I am actually giving Orton this much credit, going as far as calling him a "stud". I never thought I would see the day. Our drunk unkempt little boy is becoming a man before our eyes.

Real Life Dud of the Week: Sage Rosenfels
The Texans were in cruise control in the fourth quarter. They were up by two possessions on division rival Indianapolis. Sage tried boldly to create a first down by dramatically driving into Colts defenders, but got beaten up badly just like a guy named Sage would. He fumbled again, allowing the Colts to tie and then threw an interception to hand the Colts the easiest victory they've had since Superbowl XLI. Sigh...

Marvin Benjamin

Bears Wed Oct 01 2008

Football performance breakdown: Week 4

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Brett Favre
It turns out Favre is still nimble enough exploit the worst secondary in the NFL for six touchdowns. While his feat did look effortless, I'm surprised that someone who has played during five (six coming soon) presidential terms has not had one six touchdown game yet.

I could have sworn even Steve Buerlein threw six in a game.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Michael Turner
Turner looks like a dynamo everyday starter then ends up stinking up the joint every other week. When Turner has at least 20 rushes, the Falcons win and Turner rushes for an 8.0 yard average.

When it's under 20, the Falcons lose and he doesn't crack 3.1 ypc. I'm no mathematician, but maybe Coach Mike Smith should check his work and change his game plan.

Real Life Stud of the Week: Larry Johnson
I'm surprised that my co-Week 2 Fantasy Dud of the Week actually performed as well has he did this last week. Larry rushed for 198 yards on a so-so 49ers defense, giving his Chiefs their first win.

He helped take the wind out of division rival Denver's sails. I'm surprised this happened as I pegged Larry Johnson to be on the Shaun Alexander "washed up by age 29" program.

Real Life Dud of the Week: Kurt Warner
While the old timer did keep the game close against the Favre-led Jets with 472 yards passing, he single handedly lost the game with three lost fumbles and three interceptions.

That is what we here in Chicago call a Grossman-esque performance.

Marvin Benjamin

Bears Sun Sep 28 2008

Fantasy Football Week 4: Sits, Starts and Sleepers

Definite Start: Marshawn Lynch
The Rams are in complete turmoil. Marc Bulger has been benched, offensive leaders are fed up and the defense is in disarray.

This is a perfect opportunity for Beast Mode to steal away a few tuddies while the Rams aren't looking. It's like stealing candy from a baby who is too busy arguing with other babies.

Avoid like a fantasy football leper: Any Bears player
I was very wrong last week about who to sit, so I'm playing it safe this week. Considering how scary the Eagles defense looked and how pedestrian Kyle Orton was, I would take a pass on any Bear. That includes Matt Forte. I know you're inkling to use him now before Lovie overuses him and grinds him into dust. Next few weeks will be better, I promise.

Proceed with caution: Adrian Peterson
This "proceed with caution" designation I put on Peterson is in, no way, a knock on his abilities. I'm just wary that with the nicks and scratches he already has will slow him down against, possibly, the best defense in the NFL in the Titans.

I'm sure Peterson will read this and seek to personally prove me wrong by having an amazing game. In fact, I'm fairly certain I will be wrong. Just like I was wrong about how that girl in accounts payable liked me.

Sleeper of the week: J.T. O'Sullivan
While J.T. is breathing new life into the Niners, this could be the game where he ascends to Kurt Warner-esque legend. He is playing against the incredibly soft Saints secondary and may be poised to establish himself as the newest rags to riches quarterback.

Somewhere in a dark room, Mike Martz is laughing maniacally as his plan is coming to fruition. Lord knows what he'd do with

Marvin Benjamin

Football Fri Sep 26 2008

Matt Millen, We Hardly Knew Ye.

It finally happened. Public enemy number one in Detroit was received his just earned and long overdue dethroning. No, not Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, I speak only of the now former Lions General Manager, Matt Millen. Millen was fired as Lions President and GM Wednesday.

It's hard to believe that I, a diehard Bears fan, actually care, but I genuinely sympathize with the entire city of Detroit. The Lions were once a proud and storied franchise (probably not true, but it sounds good) that were driven into the ground by Millen.

He took Charles Rogers (out of the NFL for years) instead of Pro-Bowler Andre Johnson in 2003. Joey Harrington, Kevin Jones and uber-bust Mike Williams all failed to pan out. He drafted four different wide receivers in the first round in five years. Millen constantly neglected defensive and offensive line needs during his entire tenure. For God's sake, he's been using Jon Kitna as his starting QB for three season now. What Isiah Thomas was to the Knicks, Millen was to Lions. That is, if Thomas was piss-drunk during every draft.

The people of Detroit deserve better. Considering the Tigers have grossly underachieved and the Pistons look to be on the slow escalator down, citizens of Detroit should have a football team they can be proud of. Matt Millen saw fit that no Lions fan has joy in their heart. He made it that no wedding in Detroit is on a sunny day. That no child in Motown has a reason to laugh.

For the first time in seven years, Lions fans will see the sunrise. It is always darkest before dawn. Yes, I might have gone overboard on the dramatics, but we Bears fans felt the same way throughout John Shoop's reign. People in Detroit deserve this, there isn't much else to look forward to.

Seriously, have you been to Detroit recently? Everything is grey, smells like dumpster and the only lively place in the whole city is the unemployment line. Let Detroit have this one, Bears fans.

Marvin Benjamin / Comments (1)

News Thu Sep 25 2008

Short Hops

  • The White Sox ship may be sinking, but Juan Uribe is worried about a different boat.
  • Cubs' manager Lou Pinella talks about his future with the Cubs.
  • "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks has added to this personal roster.
  • With talk of the sale of the Cubs heating up again, a YouTube video offers one possible outcome.
  • That All-Time Cubs/White Sox team has irked one fan... in Indianapolis.
  • The White Sox will take on the Reds in next year's Civil Rights Game.
  • Donovan McNabb says he's fired up to play against the Bears this Sunday. Great... just great.
  • An AIDS activist is running from New York City to Chicago to raise awareness of the disease's devastating affect in Africa
  • The Chicago Red Stars of the Women's Professional Soccer league obtained the rights to four international stars.
  • "Cicero Fury" comes to, well, Cicero in the form of an evening of boxing on October 17.
  • Brush up on your Big Wheel skills. The Urban Assault Ride is coming to Chicago this weekend.
  • More pedal-powered fun: bike polo.

Ken Green

Football Thu Sep 25 2008

Football Performance Breakdown: Week 3

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Ronnie Brown
The Dolphins pseudo-starting running back is unquestionably Week Three's top performer. He rushed for four touchdowns and threw one more in a Tomlinson-esque performance.

Sadly, it appears that only 22 percent of Ronnie Brown owners (in Yahoo leagues) started him. You missed possibly the best fantasy performance of the season because you preferred to start Selvin Young. Good pick, pal.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Vernon Davis
In three games, Vernon Davis has caught four balls, including one miserable catch against the abysmal Lions' D. I think it's high time we've labeled the 2006 6th overall pick a bust. It's Mike Mamula all over again.

Real Life Stud of the Week: Brian Griese
As much as it pains every fiber of my die-hard Bears fan body, I will give credit where it is due. I'm surprised his arm didn't fall off after tossing 67 passes. He marched downfield, systematically picking apart the Chicago defense.

However, it doesn't hurt that Jeremy Trueblood threw a few punches that instigated a fracas for which the Bears were penalized. Trueblood says he retaliated when his genitals were grabbed by a Bears player. Tommie Harris denied it happened, but provided this gem of a quote.

''Yeah, the same way my junk got grabbed during the game. That happens, so guard your junk.''

You can't make that up.

Real Life Dud of the Week: The Steelers O-Line
The Eagles had their way with Ben Roethlisberger. They belittled Big Ben with seven sacks (not including one on Byron Leftwich) and constant pressure. When you have $102 million invested in a franchise quarterback, I might recommend throwing some blocks to protect him, even if they're holds. It's like the President was protected by blind Secret Service agents.

Marvin Benjamin

Football Wed Sep 24 2008

Footballic Ramblings!

The luster of the Bears week one throttling of the Indianapolis Colts is finally beginning to wear off after two straight weeks of "come-from-ahead" losses to the Panthers and Buccaneers. And Bears fans must be asking themselves, "How can we preserve a double-digit lead in the second half?" For me the answer is simple: "Durr, play better on offense.*" Instead of running conservative plays and formations that defensive coordinators and linebackers alike get giddy at the mere sight of; mix it up a little (okay, a LOT). On Sunday's loss to Tampa there was a string of possessions at the end of the fourth quarter and in overtime where the Bears rushed 7/10 times. Granted, the team was having success with the run and Matt Forte is a beast-in development, but c'mon! the crowd I was slinging beers to all day long knew exactly what was coming and so did the defense. Meanwhile, the rote play-calling led (for the second straight week) to Chicago's aging --BUT! still talented-- defense to being on the field for far too many snaps. When Tampa went to a no-huddle in the middle of the fourth it was because the Bucs coaching staff saw exactly how winded the Bears defense was after every snap.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Bears Mon Sep 22 2008

Extra Time = Extra Agony for Bears

For the second straight game the Bears took a double-digit, second half lead and managed to squander it thanks to an old culprit: unimaginative offensive play-calling, and a new culprit: stupid penalties in overtime. [Hey! We can lose games in all sorts of manners heretofore unthought of! Go US! --ed.] Yes, for the Bears faithful it was a case of deja vu all over again as a dominating run game + TWO! touchdowns from NeckBeard + plenty of turnovers caused by the defense = Defeat? At the hands of Brian Griese?

This time around the Bears had managed to build a 10-point lead with a mere five minutes left in the game and fans across Chicagoland were beginning to breathe easy, when that lurking monster known as foolish game-management reared its ugly head and the Bears offense began to piss away the game. Granted, with a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter your one concern is to merely get the win; but with a stagnant passing game and a predictable running attack you would hope that the offensive "geniuses" on the Bears sideline could come up with a better attack for the final five minutes of regulation and overtime than rushing plays on 9 of 12 snaps. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers went with a no-huddle offense for the majority of the fourth and overtime forcing the Bears winded and rapidly aging(?) defense to continually line up and attempt to stymie the out-of-nowhere heroics of Brian F*cking Griese.

Stay tuned, Bears fans, the season is doesn't get any easier with next week's matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In any case if you're a Bears fan in need of some cheering up after, yet another, lackluster defeat, here's the first video that turns up when you search "Bears" on Youtube:

Yes, the Bucs did perform some chenga tu ursa on Sunday, why do you ask?

Brian Lauvray

Football Sun Sep 21 2008

Fantasy Football Week 3: Sits, Starts and Sleepers

Amidst the revolution of a new generation of quarterbacks ascending into fantasy stardom, guidance to help distinguish between the real deals (Cutler, Rodgers) and the unreliable starters (O'Sullivan, Cassel) is needed.

Definite start: Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall
These two are quickly becoming a prolific tandem worth starting every week. Jay Cutler has openly admitted the Broncos are trying to match the Patriots' 2007 offensive game plan. While he might not have the multiple Super Bowl rings and smoking hot supermodel girlfriend that Tom Brady has, he's looking like a lock to start every week. You also want to milk starting Marhsall as long as you can before the looming suspension after this strikes.

Avoid like a fantasy football leper: T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Carson Palmer looks out of sync and the Bengals' offensive line is porous like a sponge. I don't foresee Cincy righting the ship against the defending Super Bowl champs. This will not be the game where the struggling T.J. (6 receptions) gets his groove back.

Proceed with caution: LaDainian Tomlinson
We only found out Achilles was human after someone shot an arrow through his bum heel. The same applies to Tomlinson, who is potentially suffering his first injury that would keep him out of a game since 2004. He may be out altogether, so you would want to look into picking up back up Darren Sproles as a contingency plan. To start or sit Tomlinson is a question you'll really have to think about.

While you're thinking about that, try to explain how anyone gets killed from an arrow to the heel?

Sleeper of the week: Steven Jackson
Considering he is a high first-round pick in most leagues, he shouldn't be considered a sleeper pick. However, his being a St. Louis Ram negates that completely. I've been wary of starting this once-beastly back, but a combination of Tory Holt calling out the O-Line and a promise to give Jackson more carries will probably work in Steven's favor.

It mostly likely won't work out in his, and coincidentally my, favor though. This week is bound to end me shaking my head in disappointment after reading his pitiful stat line.

Marvin Benjamin / Comments (1)

Bears Thu Sep 18 2008

Bears Look to Sink Bucs Ship and Other Footballic Ramblings

Holy Hell! If you don't like the Bears, then please, do yourself a huge favor and completely ignore the early-slate of games on Sunday. I warn you, dear reader, watching too much of any of these games could cause you permanent retinal scarring. More on that later, first, let's talk about your* beloved Chicago Bears.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Football Wed Sep 17 2008

Football Breakdown: Week 2

Week Two of the NFL came to a dramatic close. It has been capped off with a bang with an epic game between the Eagles and Cowboys. Teams went to the air all day and rarely played defense. More or less, it felt like reading AFL stat sheets. Fantasy owners of many receivers and quarterbacks rejoiced. Owners of many defenses winced in pain. Owners of Tom Brady are still in suicidal disbelief.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Brandon Marshall: He was suspended for the first game of the year against Oakland for lying about slipping on some garbage or something really stupid. Hence, Marshall decided to add the receiving totals he would have had against Oakland to the game against the Charges. With one game, he is leading the NFL in receptions by three catches. That's seven catches more than T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Something or Another combined.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Tie between Larry Johnson and Ricky Williams: Both are respective starters of teams that can thrive on the running game. Larry had 22 yards on 12 rushes and Ricky had almost-equally as embarrassing 28 yards on 11 rushes. Both produced a yards-per-carry average so pitiful, I wouldn't disgrace my calculator watch to determine how poorly they actually ran.

Real Life Stud of the Week: Isaac Bruce: Amongst the nine different 100-yard receivers this week (unsurprisingly, none on the Bears), Isaac Bruce's 153-yard performance stands out the most. He surpasses Brandon Marshall's 18 catches and Arizona's duo of Boldin and Fitzgerald catching 140+ yards each solely because of one fact: Bruce is really old.

I can't count the number of shocked reactions I saw this weekend when people examined the 49ers-Seahawks box score.

"I thought Isaac Bruce retired," I heard many fans say.

Isaac is not retired. He is not playing shuffle board and eating mashed food as his age would indicate. He is 47 years young, a San Francisco 49er and still has enough tread on the tires to put your whippersnappers in your place.

Real Life Dud of the Week: DeSean Jackson: Eagles rookie DeSean Jackson has unquestionably earned this vaunted award. Despite having a strong game, I can sit here and lambaste him for tossing the football just before scoring a touchdown, but I don't need to. I'm sure this play being on every blooper reel for the next 40 years and Mike Tirico's excessive use of the word "boneheaded" is punishment enough. Congratulations DeSean, you are this generation's Leon Lett.

In case you missed the game and every ESPN replay in the last 24 hours.

Marvin Benjamin

Bears Mon Sep 15 2008

Bears Bumble in Charlotte

When you're talking about football games and what happened and how team A beat team B, there lurks the constant menace of slipping into cliché. However, in the case of the Bears' ugly loss Sunday under the hot, hot, sun of North Carolina, the Bears, indeed, became the rote cliché of the team with an early lead who then grew far too conservative in sitting on said lead.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

Feature Thu Sep 11 2008

Short Hops

  • No, we didn't expect the Bears to beat the Colts last Sunday night either. But if they're going to build on that, there are three things they must do to beat the Carolina Panthers this Sunday.
  • Even if they don't win the game, the Bears are still scoring touchdowns at the bank.
  • Arguing over who gets the last drumstick is one thing. But a Cubs-White Sox World Series could drive one family nuts.
  • REALLY old school White Sox fans will mourn the death of former manager Don Gutteridge.
  • Current White Sox star Carlos Quentin hopes to be healthy by the playoffs. Question is: will he be playing or watching?
  • Patrick Kane and Jonathan Towes, the Blackhawks' Teen Titans (OK, they're not really teens but it's not far off) get some more (inter)national publicity.
  • From Kansas City to Chicago on a bike: Are gas prices THAT high?
  • The marathon gold-medalist from this year's Olympics, Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania has joined the field (pdf) of runners for the 2008 Chicago marathon. Hopefully, we'll have better weather this year.
  • The Sky take on the New York Liberty in their next-to-last game of their WNBA regular season.
  • Chicago teams finished third, fourth and fifth in the 2008 North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association Gay Softball World Series.
  • You're in Lisle. You're riding your bike. You have a hankering to see a play. What are you going to do?

Ken Green

Bears Wed Sep 10 2008

NFL Notes and Fantasy Nerdin' Out: Week 1

In case you were living in a cave on Mars with your fingers firmly plugged into your ears this weekend; -- or, conversely, you're a Cubs fan simply too wrapped up in what could be a collapse of epic proportions -- the NFL season did start this past weekend and your* Chicago Bears managed to upset AFC alpha-dog Indianapolis in Indy's brand, spankin' new stadium, in front of an national audience. If you neglected to read my, ahem, "must-read," take on da Bears season opening victory, I'll paraphrase it for you and state simply that these Bears have got a ton of work to do and truly received a gift from the Gods of Football to have caught the Colts when they were still a bit rough-around-the-edges. Trust me, the Colts are a very good team that will more than likely advance far into the playoffs. The Bears -- if they make the playoffs at all -- will be the sacrificial lamb of the postseason and will all too mirthfully check out against the power players of the NFC (see: Cowboys, Dallas.)

However, there were some true positives for fans of the Midway Monsters and not least of all was the emergence of rookie Matt Forte as a burgeoning celestial entity in the Bears Universe. Forte dropped 123 yards and a TD in his first career start, allowing all Bears fans to, at least for one night, forget the reign of terror that was the Cedric Benson Era. Additionally, hirsute and hard-drankin'** Kyle Orton made the term "game manager" never sound more sweet as he simply didn't f*ck up in handing the ball off and making easy passes look, well, easy. The season is young, oh, so young! and a lot remains to be seen, but I maintain, that even with the Bears seemingly easy win on Sunday night: Buyer Beware!

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Lauvray

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