Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Eenee, Meenee, Minee...Socks?

I love being a criminal defense lawyer. I loved being a prosecutor. Criminal law is the only branch of the law that I will ever practice. As if the rest of the legal community would have me. That would be fine, because I cannot stand 90% of lawyers. The lawyers I have associated myself with over the past 15 + years are in the criminal field. As a whole, they are good and honorable people. The best trial lawyers are criminal lawyers. That is my biased opinion. If you ever consider watching a trial, just ask me and I will find the best lawyer match-up for you. When it is done right, a criminal trial is great viewing.

The problem is that you you needed one, you won't know where to look for the best criminal lawyers. It is a crapshoot for the layman. Hopefully, someone close to you will have a referral to a good lawyer. A lawyer who will give you his best, and his best is actually worth the fee. I hope your blood curdles when you see a lawyer advertise on cable, billboard or, worst of all, in a mass mailing to your home when you have been pinched for DUI or stealing a pack of gum from the Walgreen's. Put your life into that person's hands and good luck on the outcome of your case. McJustice, churn em' and burn em'. It is a disgrace to our profession. Those lawyers are about the money and nothing else. I value my reputation over that kind of a practice. I know that I will not get rich doing this job my way. It doesn't matter. I hope to have the respect and reputation of a good and professional lawyer. Besides, I ain't crying poor.

You can always read the paper and hire a lawyer based on how good he says he is. Like the lawyer for one of the "Family Secrets" mobsters. He had a field day talking to John Kass about his pink and red socks and other wardrobe selections. He even mentioned his fashion sense in his opening statement to the jury. How is that helping the guy charged with 12 murders sitting next to him? He also is writing about the trial on a blog. He calls himself "the Shark," and has titled his column, "Shark Attacks." I will now stick a fork in my eye.

I will not retract my opening statement just because most lawyers are balloonheads. I don't despise my profession because most lawyers are money grubbing whores. This is the business that I have chosen. I do it my way, the right way, and have to answer only to myself. My clients know what I am all about, and they know me. That is all that I can control. It doesn't mean that sometimes I want to light myself on fire.

Tank You Very Much

In the words of Dr. Smith, "Ohhhh, the pain." Our team is left depth-crippled by another buffoon. One good season and it all turns to shit. I have no problem with the decision. The Bears did the right thing. Cut ties, rid yourself of the cancer. It just sucks is all. "He is gone, and there is nothing that can be done about it."

Nothing good happens after midnight. My dad told me that a few times, and he was right. I never had that good of a time after midnight. Usually, I became quite tired. Even back in my teens and twenties, I was a party pooped pooper after 12 bells. I would usually be home or in bed by 1:00 a.m. at the latest. A square, if you must label me. Of course, I avoided being pulled over at 3:30 a.m. Obviously, I can't play a one-gap DT for the Bears.

Despite all this post-Super Bowl nonsense, I am looking forward to the arrival of my season tickets. Any day now. They come in two big perforated sheets. I get to carefully fold them over and tear them apart. Then I sort them out and hold them in a fan, like a deck of cards. I look at them and feel them. I get excited about the season. Did I just say this out loud?

To further ruin anyone's remaining high opinion of me, I find myself listening to the NFL channel on Sirius RADIO. I refuse to listen to local sports talk radio and anything with Jim Rome. Asshole talking to assholes. But I can't get enough of these NFL guys, Pat Kirwin, Adam Shine, Solomon Wilcots, etc. When it's not Howard Stern, it's this channel. I find myself chiming in with my opinions on the topic of discussion. Outloud and alone in my car. Is this bad? I think I need more rest.

One more season of "The Wire" before our HBO "sleeps with the fishes."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sipping on Juice...With My Mind on My Money

I am sitting here at the computer with Mary Cate, who will be two years old tomorrow. Mary wants to write about juice and the two dollar bill that she is holding. I am feeling good about the contract extension for CB Nathan Vasher. Five years, $24 million with $14 million of that up-front and guaranteed. The next move is Peanut Tillman's extension. Locking up two excellent man-to-man cover corners is a Jerry Angelo move, "Reward production." The Bears sign their core guys to extensions before the player's free agent season. Read Vasher's comments to the press. Here is a guy who was realistic in his wants and was thrilled with the financial security provided in this deal. He wants to be a Bear and is paid like the Pro-Bowler that he is. Everybody Wins. Now after Tillman is extended, there will be no money to EVER pay Lance Briggs. Boo Hoo.

Now for the juice. The murder-suicide of professional wrestler Chris Benoit is a disgusting story. When I here people say that Benoit was an all together good and down-to-earth guy, I blame steroids. That "sport" is rampant with unchecked drug use. Look at the list of wrestlers who have died before the age of 45 over the past decade. It is horrible. This is the result of indiscriminate steroid use. Prove me wrong.

Money and juice.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Back From B-BQ Land

Back from a family trip. Springfield, IL. to Memphis, Tn. No football in the state capital. Memphis has the Liberty Bowl but no NFL team to speak of. That is all the football news I have. I love the South; Great town, great food and Beale Street (Great music). I would love to go back with my wife and no kids. That would be called a "vacation."

I also found out that my last child will be a feminine child. Some people (see: Males) have expressed some sympathy for me. Also, they have mentioned my love of football in this context. Please, don't waste your sympathy on me. I couldn't be happier. As far as I can tell or have been told, the baby is doing great. My wife is doing fine. That is all I need. Football is a hobby. The family is my life. I can share my life and life lessons with my girls. That is a unisex type of job.

As for my hobby, I really need it to begin. It is a great diversion for my mind. This new eating and exercising lifestyle is doing wonders for my physical health. My mental health is kind of shot. I feel stressed out, man. Football is my great escape. One day, I hope one of my kids goes to an SEC school, Vanderbilt maybe. That would be some Dad's weekend trip. B-BQ, beer and ball. A guy can dream.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Father's Day XI

I miss my father every day. It is not because we spent a lot of time together or talked constantly. It's just that when my dad died, I felt cast adrift in the world. It's because I always knew that my dad was steering the ship. Since childhood, I always believed that I was safe because my dad was at the helm. When he left, I was 39 years old, but I knew then and still know now that this feeling will never pass. That is just the way it is with your father. I feel lucky to have had such a steady hand on the steering wheel.

One of the most important things I have ever done was to eulogize my dad. It was a special opportunity to share my feelings about him with others. He deserved it. I did have practice, however. I told my dad what he meant to me while he was alive, on a Father's Day. My dad was an acquired taste, and it took some time for me to figure him out. When I did, I had to tell him. I wanted him to know; I wanted no regrets. It felt good to say how much I admired him and how much he influenced my accomplishments. I know he was proud of the man that I had become. The guy that blogs before you owes his dad so much. He taught me how to sail.

I steer the ship now. I was ready when it came my turn at the wheel. The kids don't see the unsteady hand; they just see the man standing tall, facing down the squall. They don't need to feel the burden of navigating through the icebergs; they need only to feel the joy of finding new and fun lands. I try to get them to keep an orderly deck. I keep trying. I love being a father. They would get the lifeboats, and I would go down with the ship. I love them so much.

I have been blessed with great mentors and role models in my life. My college football coach Randy, my father-in-law Pat, my friends Tom and Will are all people who I look up to and admire for the kind of men that they are. I love, respect and honor them on this Father's Day. They are great fathers and great men. I have told them that. No regrets.

This Sunday, find your dad and honor him in your own way. But let him know that he is doing a great job. He deserves to hear it. He wants to know that his hard work, love and care has meant something. Trust me, it will mean the world to him.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Will I Name my Child Brian or Brianna?

Recently, has been running a series on the "Best of" NFL players and teams. Best QB, first player chosen to build a franchise, most valuable running back have been some of the topics. Four "experts" make the choices. When it came down to most valuable defensive player, Brian Urlacher received two of the four votes. Champ Bailey, Bronco cornerback, got the other two. Urlacher deserves the accolade. In my opinion, he is and will remain the greatest middle linebacker to ever play in the Cover-2 defense.

In the past, the Cover-2 showcased the weak outside linebacker or "Will" backer. Our local, successful example is the dead Lance Briggs. Cover-2 is a two-deep, zone pass defense. Think of two safeties splitting up the deep halves of the field. It is not a blitzing D; you rely on your front four down lineman to get pressure and disrupt the run game. They should be fast and physical. The linebackers are responsible to make the tackles. They also have pass responsibilities and have to be very skilled. The scheme was set up for an athletic and speedy Will to run free, make a bushel full of tackles and make big plays.

The greatest Will backer in Cover-2 history is Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks. Canton is waiting for this guy. Tons of tackles and, listen up Briggsy, tons of interceptions. The middle linebacker position in a Cover-2 scheme was never acknowledged. Not until Urlacher came along. He can do it all. No player gets to the ball faster than him. He covers sideline to sideline. When he gets there, he is a violent tackler and is an expert at creating a turnover. I hear people say "Urlacher cannot stuff the run" or "he can't get off a blocker." These are misguided criticisms. First of all, the days of the "run-stuffing LB" are over. Those guys would have to come off the field on 3rd down and were a liability in pass coverage. Secondly, name me one linebacker that can get off a 325 pound lineman. This is not 1979. The idea is to keep the O-line off the linebackers. I hate people who don't understand the modern game. Get over it.

The real "freak" quality of Urlacher is his pass defense. He drops so deep in the secondary because of his speed, he can eliminate a threat in the middle of the field. He can neutralize a fast and skilled tight end. He can also shut down a slot receiver. That enables the two safeties a cushion to cover less area. When he blitzes, which is not often, he will get sacks. Name me another MLB who can do all of that. Ever. Don't say Butkus. The Bears sucked when he played. I love that rationalization, "you beat the Bears, but they punished you." Big fuckin' deal. How about winning a game on defense? How many of those have we seen since 54 got here.

If anyone had doubts about the greatness of Urlacher as a MLB, last year's Arizona Cardinal, Monday night football game should have dispelled them. If it did not, well then, you should not be allowed to watch the NFL. Down by three touchdowns, Urlacher single-handedly took that game away from Arizona. He made all the tackles. All of them. Arizona refused to throw so Urlacher said "I'll clean up." Rex gave the ball away; Urlacher took it back. He pulled it out of their arms. So, not only did he stop them, he started us. He skilled and willed the Bears to an unbelievable victory.

That is what is great about Urlacher and great football players. Denny Green was right; the Bears "are what we thought they were." He had game-planned perfectly, knew the Bears weaknesses and exploited the matchups. But you can't beat a great player on paper. You have to do it in the game. The Cardinals knew what Urlacher could do, but they couldn't stop him. It was a virtuoso performance. Skill and desire, an unbeatable combination.

So, stop with the critiques. This season, everyone sit back and watch a one-of-a-kind football player. You won't be dissappointed. Sometimes, Urlacher does not have gaudy stats. But if the Bears are dominating on defense, it is DIRECTLY because of what he is doing. If we are getting schooled, they have an answer for him in that game. He ain't gonna be around forever, enjoy it.

I have never owned a Bears jersey, never wore one. If I thought about it, I would only wear a Payton 34. This off-season, a friend gave me an Urlacher 54. I think I may wear it to a game. He is the best defensive player in the league. Despite this post, I do not have a man-crush on Urlacher. Not that I am above such feelings, but he is not my type. Too many babies-mamas, bad decisions in clubs or Trader Joe's or wherever this dumb ass meets chicks. And he is dumb, as a post. But give me 11 solos, 6 assists, 1 interception, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble on a Sunday, and, hell, I'll cook you dinner.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Return to Campus

On Friday, I will return to Knox College for a reunion of Alumni football players. I am very proud of my college football career. Knox is a small school (900-1100 enrollment), and football holds no special status there. However, my last season of football stands as one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. It was achieved with a special group of classmates and a coach who remains a mentor and role model.

I went to Knox for school, not to play football. I had a miserable high school experience, and I hated the game. I was going away to college, leaving my neighborhood and football behind. I was talked into playing by the coach, Joe Campanelli. That first college season was for me. I just enjoyed playing the game again. The team was awful. The upperclassmen accepted losing and did not invest any effort into the program. I hated to lose and hated them. There was one saving grace. Every freshman felt the same way that I did. That spring Joe Campanelli quit. The college hired Randy Oberembt as new head football coach.

The change was immediate. Coach O was an intense guy. He looked you directly in the eye and demanded your best. I gave my heart and soul to Knox football. For the next two seasons, we struggled to turn the corner. Despite a 180 degree change in effort, three losing seasons marked my Knox career. It came down to the last season, 1987, our senior year. Knox last winning season had been in 1976. The pressure was palpable. If we didn't get it done, all the hard work and commitment would be for naught.

Additionally, our last game of 1986 weighed heavily upon me. We were destroyed by our arch rival, Monmouth College, by a score of 46-0. We quit as a team in that game. I quit in that game. We were physically manhandled, and emotionally crushed. It was an embarrassing and shameful performance. It haunted me then and is still hard to talk about. But it motivated me. We would not let it end that way.

That last year, we achieved the winning season by the sixth game. When we faced Monmouth at home in the Knox Bowl for our final game, we were 6-2 and had a chance at the conference championship. We played a great game. We lost in the last 2:00 minutes. I took it hard. It was my last football game. Looking back, I have no regrets. We accomplished our goals and played our hearts out until the end. I still see four of my teammates every year. I look forward to seeing some of my other fellow 1987 football teammates. It was a special year.

After that season, I was in Coach's office talking about life, the future, and football. I looked around the room and saw the pictures on the wall. On display were photos of the five Little All-American players from the past three years. There was one other photo on the wall. It was mine. I was surprised; I had been a three-year starter but was never All-Conference or anything. I asked Coach what was up. He told me, "You are Knox Football. You are the example of what I believe a great program is all about. Your leadership and commitment are what made this team special." It was the greatest compliment I ever received in sports. Although Knox is still a little program, I am proud of being a Siwash. (Don't ask.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

December 20, 1998-The Greatest Game Ever Played

At the age of 32, my greatest dream as a football fan was to see an NFL game from the sideline. On December 20, 1998, that dream came true. My job as an assistant state's attorney brought me into contact with a deputy Cook County sheriff who was a security supervisor at Soldier Field. His son was a victim of a felony battery, and I prosecuted the case. He heard that I dreamed of watching an NFL game up close and personal. He made it happen. I was given a magic pass and one for a friend. The pass said "McCormick Place Maintenance." I asked my Dad to come with me. I was officially "Hooked Up."

When we arrived at our special mini-gate, the door opened and we were escorted through. At the field, a guard allowed us onto the gridiron with a flourish. Amazing what a laminated placard hanging from your neck can accomplish.

We found a spot on the sideline and looked around. I couldn't believe my eyes. There were a hundred civilians all over the place. I was crushed. This was supposed to be an impossible feat. The sideline was top security only. Who were these jokers? All pre-game, women and children are walking up and down the sideline. These people with no reverence for what was to take place on this field in a few minutes. Get them out of here. They were killing my buzz.

My disappointment was short-lived. After the National Anthem, the ghost of Ditka appeared and removed all the infidels. All that remained were the Bears, the coaches, NFL Films, John McQuaid and son. We had the joint to ourselves. The Bears with a 3-10 record vs. the Baltimore Ravens with a 2-11 record, a hugely anticipated affair. The Bears trotted out for the kickoff. Jim Schwantz, the Bears special teams stud, took a knee and prayed.

Once the ball was kicked off, I knew what he prayed for. HIS LIFE. Schwantz ran after the ball, found the biggest player on the Ravens return team and ran into him as hard as he could. It sounded like an M-80 explosion. I was ecstatic. It didn't matter that both teams blew chunks; this was football at its highest level. The players were huge and fast. It was like watching car crash after car crash. I was in awe of the quarterback's ability to do anything with the ball. It was like standing in the middle of the freeway and trying to get the license numbers of the cars whizzing past. Impossible.

I don't think my dad was quite as thrilled. For starters, he had no where to sneak off for a smoke. You also couldn't drink beer on the sideline. Sorry, Dad. I, however, fell in love with the NFL for life. The Bears played well that day and won 24-3. It didn't matter. The thrill existed in each play. Every collision was memorable. I gained great respect for the players. They take years off of their lives playing pro football. They destroy their bodies, all for my enjoyment. I know that sounds sick, but hell, I'm sick.

I would love to go back down there. The experience was sports-life changing. College football is for pansies. The true gladiators still exist. They perform every Sunday in the fall at a stadium near you.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

All We Are Saying...Is Give Rex a Chance

In 1974, the Pittsburgh Steelers opened the season with a new quarterback, Joe Gilliam. The coaching staff had decided to bench their young 3-year veteran and former starter, Terry Bradshaw. The fans were merciless on Terry. Despite team success, he made a many mistakes and bad decisions with the ball. The Steelers succumbed to the pressure and sent Bradshaw to the pine.

The change lasted for 5 games. The Steelers stunk. In comes Bradshaw, and Pittsburgh goes on to win the Super Bowl. Bradshaw subsequently makes the all-decade team, wins three more Super Bowls and is elected to the Hall of Fame. Often, a little patience brings great reward.

Bradshaw is a legend; Rex is not. However, there are similarities. Both have big arms. Bradshaw was known for throwing interceptions; many interceptions. Both lack a conscience. They continue to fire despite continual failure. They are fearless. Both received unrelenting criticism, yet continued to have success. Most important, they had good teams around them.

Bradshaw had great teams. Hall of Famers on offense-RB Franco Harris, WR Lynn Swann, WR John Stallworth. Don't forget they put one of the greatest defenses on the field, the Steel Curtain. The Bears have very little talent on offense. The Bears have a good defense and good special teams. 70's Steelers crush the 2000's Bears.

Be patient. After one full season as QB1, the Grossman-led Bears won the NFC. He will only get better. A great QB is a luxury. Only a few are found in a decade. Grossman is never going to be great, but he can lead this team. He is doing that right now. The players in the huddle want to win for him. They believe in him. That's what counts. He is a leader, just like Bradshaw.

Grossman needs help. Elway, Favre, Marino and Aikman needed help. Super Bowls are won by great teams who play great. We need more weapons on offense. Rex can't catch his own passes. They need the running game. All championship offenses have one. Greg Olsen needs to be the player worthy of first round consideration. A fast tight end who presents nightmarish matchups in pass coverage. A weapon. A younger and better offensive line. I look at this offense and get depressed. And it ain't because of Grossman. Believe that.