Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Dad, I can't believe you wore THAT outside the house!"

The ZUBAZ are dead. Long live the Zubaz. I have officially thrown away my Bears-themed Zubaz pants. You know the pants. Baggy, pajama material covered in blue and orange tiger stripes. Hideous, granted, yet essential to any football fanatics wardrobe, circa 1987.

Truthfully, this expunged pair was my second. My first pair were bought in the 1980's. I believe they were featured on an episode of VH1's "I Love the 80's." I wore them quite often. I did not throw out that pair; they just evaporated like most men's underwear. I enjoyed those Zubaz. They off- set my friend's Packer Zubaz, the green and yellow tiger stripes. Of course, I had no girlfriend or any dates with girls.

The second pair was purchased recently. New with tags on E-bay. When I reintroduced the style to Kathleen, she rolled her eyes. Not much of a reaction I'll admit, but she has known me for 16+ years. Appropriately, I was admonished not to be seen in those pants by anyone that she knew. The kids freaked out. They were not yet worn to the nub by my fashions. Now they understand the potential of true embarrassment. I only share the valuable lessons.

Nobody forced me to purge the pants. The Bears lost both games that I wore those goofy things. (At home, in front of the TV) I did not test the luck of the pants at a live game. I value sleeping under my own roof. The pants had to go because they were "losing" pants. If the outcome of those games had been different, they would have made it to Soldier Field. You would have seen other mentally ill men similarly attired. I would have fit right in.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Off-Season

I probably made a mistake by starting an all-Bears blog in May. The post-draft/pre-camp months are very uneventful. This might be bad for blogging, but it is good for recharging the gridiron battery. I need the break. A full season of football wears me out.

In younger days, sports dominated my life. "All sports, every season" was my motto. I would watch anything, rodeo, lacrosse, whatever, as long as they kept score. Now it is just football and college basketball. I gave up on baseball; pro basketball is pure crap. You already saw my hockey post. I really don't like professional athletes. Most of all, I despise golf. It is a huge waste of time. I think that the powers-that-be should rename the game of golf. They should call it "AMF" (Avoiding My Family).

I refuse to watch Arena football. It makes no sense to me. The reality is that it is not football. It's indoor soccer with pads. The NFL Europe is just minor league football, slower and less skilled professionals. I won't watch that either. Why blow my diet with a McDonald's cheeseburger? If I'm going down, it is with a Morton's burger. If they offered real football (NFL, high school, whatever) in the spring and summer, I would be doomed.

It is a 6 month season. Some will say, and you know who you are, a 6 month obsession. What can I say? I love it. It makes me feel like a kid. But now when the season is over, I need a break from football and caring about sports. After all, I am not a kid anymore. Those damn bills that keep coming in the mail remind me of that.

Monday, May 21, 2007

If a Mediocre Defensive End Falls In the Woods...

Alex Brown, a serviceable defensive end, has asked the Bears to trade him. This scintillating bit of news has caused no phones to ring at Halas Hall. No suprise there; he just isn't that good. He is O.K. but is about to lose his starting position to second-year player Mark Anderson. Why? Because Anderson is better. There now, that was simple.

However, I don't get it. Alex Brown has three years left on a contract that pays a very good wage, overpaid some might say. He is not going to sit on the bench; the Bears rotate their defensive lineman in every series. Moreover, no NFL team will pay him more than the Bears. I don't think any will pay him close to what the Bears pay him. What does he want? Who is advising him? In Lombardi-speak, "What the HELL is going on out there?" I guess we'll find out sometime.

The question I have is why does an average football player want to leave a winning team with Super Bowl potential unless he is going to dupe some stupid team to overpay him (see: Washington Redskins)? Because he isn't a "starter?" C'mon, this is not high school. NFL teams play a lot of players in today's game. If it means that much to you Alex, beat the guy out for the job. Compete, you boob. I guess he wants to be traded to a team with lousy defensive ends so he doesn't have to work that hard. Then he will be happy because he "starts" for 7-9 non-playoff team. Amazing.

If you get to watch one episode of "America's Game" on NFL Network, you will understand my amazement. The look on the face of player when he displays his Super Bowl ring is priceless. You see a man who truly realizes why he played the game. The ONLY reason to play professional football is to be called a champion. I know that these players have a short shelf life and don't have a lot to fall back on. Money becomes a priority. But if championships aren't your goal, why would any team want you or pay you? I would want players who care about winning first and try to get as many of those guys on my roster as possible.

Alex Brown does not inspire me. He is an average player who wants to leave a winner for no good reason. Obviously, winning is not a priority for him. The Bears have invested money in a loser. He is now an obstacle in reaching another Super Bowl. To bad he has a family, otherwise, he would not be missed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

R.I.P. Chicago Blackhawks. Nobody Cares.

Allow me a non-Bears post today. I read an article about the Blackhawk's owner Bill Wirtz threatening to sell the team. Some threat. Please Bill, make it a promise. That guy has ruined an Original 6 franchise. The Hawks have been one of if not THE WORST organization in professional sports. The reason for this lowly status is the owner. Plain and Simple.

The NHL as a whole has done nothing to elevate hockey from it's current "niche-sport" platform. I think the X-Games and bull riding have better TV contracts. The NHL is on Versus (formerly OLN). I can find a darts match easier than a hockey game. They lost a year to a lockout. Take that ineptitude, quadruple it and you have the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks are a dead subject in this town. It is a damn shame, because I used to love going to a Hawks game more than attending any other sport. Yes, that includes football.

My dad had season tickets when I was young. He shared them with some other guys. He had two seats for around 10 games. He took me to Chicago Stadium for the first time when I was around 8 years old. It was a magical place. First balcony on the blue line. Few players wore helmets, and the building rocked. My dad would fill me in on the history; he had been going to Hawks games since he was a teenager. Duke loved hockey and the Hawks. I loved it, too. I loved sharing that team with my father. When I was around 13, our house was burglarized; the tickets were pilfered. My dad never went back. The game was changing, and he just kind of lost interest. To this day, it was the only team for which my dad and I shared an equal passion.

Despite my dad's withdrawal, I was hooked. I listened to every game on the radio. My friends and I would get standing-room only tickets for the big games, Islanders, Oilers and Northstars. The Stadium was made for hockey. This was pre-Jordan. The Hawks would fill the joint. I went to every St. Rita hockey game for four years. We were really good. I played street hockey every day. I was a superfanatic. The game was fast, violent and thrilling to watch. The release of emotion when a goal was scored was euphoric. I challenge anyone to find a more exciting live sport than hockey. It does not exist.

In college, I got all my buddies watching the NHL playoffs. These were small town Illinois dudes. They loved it. The Hawks were good, making the playoffs every year. I remember going to bars with Kathleen when we were dating, to watch the playoffs. Then, all of a sudden, it was over. They cut salary and stopped making the playoffs. For Good. It made no sense.

The owner refused to strengthen the organization. He now says that he lost $50 million over the past two years. That is a complete lie. If a businessman as shrewd as Bill Wirtz was losing that kind of money, he would make a positive change. He would market his product. He would put home games on T.V. (I cannot believe I am writing that in 2007) He would pay a good general manager to fix this program. They sell no tickets and haven't really tried. He hasn't done it because he doesn't have to, and he doesn't care. He owns half of the United Center and the concessions. Money is being made.

As for me, I have moved on. It is the Bears and that's the list. However, I have to admit to feeling very nostalgic about our long forgotten NHL team. I miss the thrills, chills and cheers in a great old building. I miss watching a very good team in a clean, new building with a few bucks in my pocket. Mostly I miss driving down Western Avenue in a brown 1967 Chevy Impala with a great hockey fan. I miss tagging along with him between periods so he could have a smoke in the stairwell while I sipped a Coke. I miss being taught that there are plenty of opportunities to get out of my seat while the action is stopped. I remember the extra buck for easy-out parking. Mostly, I miss the time when I really fell in love with sports, inside the Stadium watching the Chicago Blackhawks with my dad.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Healthy Diet+Tailgate=No Fun.

I am sure that the few of you who may happen to read this blog know that I have changed the way I eat. To my future football guests, do not flail your arms and lament. I will still perform on Sundays to your high-fat and cholesterol delight. I too will join you in the bacchanal. Save up those cheat calories for gameday.

I am going to tweak the menu this year. I see large BBQ shrimp in my future. Also, maybe some small steak sandwiches with crumbled blue cheese. These are not my ideas. I am stealing from some good stops this past season. Original ideas to follow. Folks, I do requests. Don't be afraid to let me know. Also, just some advice, don't be shy when you are eating my food. If you can eat the whole right side of the Cheesecake Factory menu (i.e. Bill Stanton), tailgate is not the time to be polite. I know you are a good person, just eat, goddammit.

I want to hit at least one pre-season game. The great weather and empty parking lot makes for some relaxed grilling. Plus, there is nothing on the line football-wise. Except for a season-ending injury to a starter, god forbid.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bears Visit Tank. Not Conjugal, Hopefully.

Front page of the Trib sports page-"Bears visit Tank in the County Jail." They got the jail visitor logs for Tank Johnson. Tell me the Bears are not the biggest thing in this town. Another compelling headline.

The list of visitors was impressive. Even Mike McCaskey came to see the Tank. 147 visits in 60 days and a hefty 19 visits on one Sunday. Grossman, Urlacher, Lovie, Jerry Angelo all paid their respects. The Trib did highlight a conspicuous absentee, Lance Briggs. I think a jail visit is alot to expect from a dead guy. Besides Briggs' estate and Drew Rosenhaus were too busy trying to find a shoulder to weep on. That unfair 7.2 million dollar offer for one year sticks in their craw.

I like this group of Bear players. Visiting the Cook County Jail is no picnic. Take it from me. I find any reason I can not to go in there. Hmm, let's see, I need to see two clients but, hey, I'm late for an appointment to get my leg broken. That takes priority. Yet, Tank's teammates and the organization came out en masse to see him. That is very cool. I have always believed that this team gets along, and their locker room is strong. This article only confirms that belief. That is why this team can weather adversity. That is how a team can survive the growing pains of a young QB. That is Super Bowl caliber stuff.

Tank Johnson may be suspended by the league for 8 games or more. He may never be a player. It is not about Tank. It is about his teammates. If Tank ever makes a Pro Bowl or gets a ring, he will owe it to this crew and a Bears organization that believes in him. Tank or no Tank, this team will continue to win games. They know what it takes. Tank should appreciate what he has here and make it the best of his future. He owes it to his teammates. You cannot put a price tag on that.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Looks Like Tarzan. Plays Like Jane.

I am going to refrain from commenting on the Lance Briggs situation. He is dead to me. All of this money, agent, franchise player discussion confuses and scares me. I'm just a caveman. I will comment on the news out of Halas Hall that freshly drafted OLB Michael Okwo of Stanford "fits the Bears' OLB mold." How can they say this? Well, of course, he looked great at the rookie mini-camp held over this past weekend. Now there is a true and accurate test of a player. A newly-minted rookie plays touch football in his underwear with a bunch of other college players. Whoopee! I feel better about our defense already. I may be a loyal, spout the party line when it comes to fiscal responsibilty, Bears fan, but I am not blind. This whole situation sucks.

Here's why. When in doubt, let's go to the tape. This weekend, I watched two games from last year, the Bucs and the playoff game vs. Seattle. I watched our dearly departed OLB. When he wasn't making the tackle, he was always around the ball. He plays loose and explodes to the point of impact. He is football-fast and is good in pass coverage. In the Seattle game, he made the game-winning stop on Shaun Alexander. Enough said. He deserves his Pro Bowl recognition.

So, Jerry Angelo and Love Muffin, I don't want to hear about Michael Okwo's "measurables." You don't know if he fits the mold. You don't know if can play. The dead guy can play. The dead guy posed for the mold. Just let me mourn the loss. In fact, you should join me.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Season Ticket Bill Gets Paid so I can Return to Playoff Football.

I paid for 2007 season tickets. The price rose a few bucks per ticket. That is what happens when you finally win a home playoff game after 15 years of sucking. Yet, I do enjoy the new Soldier Field. Great sight lines for football, clean, and more bathrooms. I do not miss leaving my seat 300 yards from the action and finding a port-a-potty with a 300-foot line of drunks. A trip always punctuated by my nameless partner (Kevin Golden) rocking the port-a-potty while I was inside. Beautiful Old Soldier Field. What a shithole.

If you get a chance, watch the next NBA playoff game hosted by the Golden State Warriors (Oakland). They have best crowd I have seen in years. They propelled their team to the biggest upset in NBA history. When was the last time a Chicago crowd made a difference? Some will say years ago when the Old Stadium was around. I will say the 2007 NFC championship game. That crowd was relentless. Normally, Bear fans are a fickle bunch. We are usually somewhat quiet, except when singing "Bear Down." Also, we can be negative in our response to adversity. See Rex Grossman.

But not that day. It was the biggest football game in this town since 1985. The fans did not disappoint. We put all our energy into every play. We were especially loud while the Saints were on offense. We did not need a Jumbotron or piped-in music to elevate our volume or tell us when to cheer. When Reggie Bush ripped us for a huge TD catch n' run, we did not give in to despair.

The result was that our Bears played their best 4th quarter of football in years in the biggest game of the season at the time. I was proud of that crowd and proud to be there. There was one Bear fan who was not. This guy that sat down our row threw up all over himself and a buddy...right before the opening kickoff! His buddy, the puked-upon, had to walk his wasted comrade out, and they never returned. That guy should have dumped his jerkoff, drunk buddy over the collonade and quickly returned to his seat. They missed a classic.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Draft is over. Thank God.

The NFL draft is out of control. For three months everyone talks about players who have not played one down of pro football. Speculation and unending prehash. Then, after the draft, they grade the teams selections. Say what?? That is comparable to a schoolteacher giving a grade on a test based on how the student held her pen and sat in her chair while taking the test. How about waiting until you actually can grade the performance. The rehash...equally exhausting.

I stopped reading the local papers coverage of the Bears. The columnists are spinning tall tales and creating controversy where there is none. The most recent example of this nonsense is the Greg Olsen rap video. Now Olsen has to apologize for doing something dumb but harmless as an 18 year-old college freshman. Olsen now joins millions of current and former 18 year-old college freshman in the stupid act department. What a story. These writers are talentless. David Halberstam is spinning in his grave. Dopes.

I love the Bears, but I will try to get it right. I will try to write well.