Friday, December 22, 2006


"Bear Down, Chicago Bears..."

(Note: This portion of the post should be read in a thick Chicago accent. Think Bill Swerski's Super Fans from SNL...)

First of all, I want to say congratulations to the Packers for der win earlier tonight over da Vikings. I was cheering for you's. Really, I was. It will just make it sweeter when Da Bears kick your teeth in on New Year's Eve, extinguishing all playoff hopes from your Lindberger hearts. Prediction for next Sunday: Bears without Mini Ditka 72, Cheeseeaters -4.

Secondly, I think I may have to add a new room to da house, because I might need to adopt dis kid.

He sure sounds perfect to me. It seems that he has been raised in a home dat reinforced traditional values and stressed da need to support goodness (da Bears) over evil (all other lesser teams).

Now that the work year is for all intents and purposes finished, I can concentrate on my impending return to the Windy City. I haven't been back to Chi-town since 2001, so needless to say that I am ecstatic to be returning, even if only for a few days. I haven't had a real slice of pizza pie in five years, so a trip to Giordano's will be made, along with planned stops at Coach Ditka's and Mother's. Plus, we get to see da Bears play...

I can't wait.

MORE: OK, a few other points. Some people have given me some heat over the past few months for being too fanatical about football. Fair enough, you are entitled to your opinion.

I am passionate about football. I have no argument there. However, to write it off as "only a game" or some nonsense like that is shortsighted. Football is much more than that. As baseball has declined with the revelations that everything we thought was pure and right about America's pastime was really nothing but a fraud the size of Barry Bonds' gigantic steroid-enhanced head, football has grown to be a great unifying force in America's cities. It knows no racial boundaries. It knows no gender limitations. It does not take a backseat to traditional political rifts. It is what unites us, what binds us. Elitists will say that I am oversimplifying the issue. Let them, because they are probably saying such things as they sit in their luxury boxes at the games.

Football is a reflection of life. The breaks in life - what determines success from failure - are fragile, and one small step in the wrong direction can alter ones life forever. The same is seen in football, often referred to as a "game of inches."

The lessons that sports in general teach last a lifetime. When in interviews, applicants are usually asked about their strengths and weaknesses. My paramount strength is my determination, my drive, my perseverance. I can tell you right now - I didn't learn that from academics. Like many people, academics didn't become challenging until I was an upperclassman in college. By then, my character traits were already in place. If it hadn't been for sports - for being the smallest kid in my class for most of my life but having no problem throwing my body around as a middle linebacker or free safety, for being told that I was too small to compete with bigger, faster guys - I wouldn't be who I am today.

I found this video (which is one of the better Bears videos on YouTube right now), and it has a quick intro piece by Robert DeNiro. I think the monologue is from the box office bomb, "Any Given Sunday," but that's beside the point. The words still ring true, and the entire piece is reflective of what I am talking about here.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

EVEN MORE: OK, let's hit on a few pigskin-related miscellaneous notes:

1) It's no wonder that I am such a football fan. My Mom went to the same school (Powell Valley High School in Big Stone Gap, Virginia) that Thomas Jones - the Bears running back that is shown breaking the ankles of a Minnesota Vikings defender in the video above - and Julius Jones (of the Dallas Cowboys) attended. Heck, I used to wear an old Powell Valley jersey as pajamas when I was a kid.

2) Later on today (3:00 P.M.), Knox Catholic's Harrison Smith will announce his choice of college, and all indications are that it will be the University of Notre Dame and not the hometown Vols. Many people will overreact and wonder why we can't keep kids in-state. Fear not, Big Orange Nation.

First off, Harrison Smith isn't making this decision. His father wants him to go to Notre Dame, and Dr. Smith is more than a factor here. Second (and I have been saying this for months, well before it became apparent that Coach Fulmer was getting more than idle resistance in his recruiting efforts from Dr. Smith), Harrison Smith isn't even the best player in Knoxville. That would be Dennis Rogan out of Fulton, who has already committed to UT. Harrison is a decent safety prospect, but I wouldn't trade Eric Berry (#1 CB in the country by or Art Evans or Chris Walker or B.J. Coleman or Brett Vinson or Kenny O'Neal or Gerald Jones or Cody Pope or Darius Sawtelle or Tyler Maples or - well, any of the young men who have verbally committed to give their all for The University of Tennessee starting in Fall of 2007 - for Harrison Smith. Don't get me wrong - I would love to have Harrison at UT. However, no amount of talent in the world would coerce me into saying that I would rather have that kid at UT instead of another young man who wants nothing more than to wear the Orange and run through the "T" for four years.

Fulmer is putting together one incredible class. If he can land Chris Donald (#1 middle linebacker in the country and #1 player in Tennessee according to, Lennon Creer (outstanding RB from Texas), Renaldo Melancon (DT from Louisiana), and one more defensive tackle, this could go down as one of Fulmer's best recruiting classes. Given his track record, that's saying something.

Just remember that when the doom-and-gloomers come out of the woodwork today after Harrison Smith's announcement.

3) There are simply too many bowl games. The only people who care about these lesser bowls are the fans of the schools that are playing in them and gamblers. That being said, I am 2-for-2 on my picks in the bowl games thus far. Let's hope that I stay perfect through UT's Outback Bowl appearance with Penn State.

4) There has been a bit of discussion about the NFL Network carrying games on Thursday and Saturday nights, mostly centered around the majority of the nation not having access to the NFL Network. Bottom line: I believe in a free market, and the NFL is just making good financial sense by carrying games on its own networks - for a variety of reasons. Now, I have the NFL Network, and I think it's great. Their Sunday wrap-up show is by far superior to the cheap version over at ESPN, and Rich Eisen as a host is a reminder of all of the talent that has left ESPN's Sportscenter and been replaced by no-talent hacks.

However, one place that the NFL Network needs work is in who it has calling live games. Bryant Gumbel is just awful. I'm one of those guys who tends to like most pro announcers, so it's safe to say that I have a pretty long fuse when it comes to this type of thing. However, Gumbel is just plain bad. You're the NFL Network, guys. Get someone who knows something about the NFL. Just a suggestion...


You're too young to remember when the Bears were the IT team with refrigerator Perry and Sweetness and Icky and the Bears Rap song/Shuffle.
Now THAT was a team to watch.

And shortly before that Bears team, the Houston Oilers with Bum Phillips led his team to 3 AFC championship games (always against Pitt) and those were the best games for that period. Period.

Then before that, Roger and the Cowboys. Roger would get a concussion in the first quarter, come back in the 4th quarter while the Cowboys were down 14, and you called the game even at that point cause of his 2 minute offense.
THAT was football.

Now that they have football players wearing dresses; not so great.
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