"We had a great team when I was in Chicago," he said. "I loved, loved, loved my teammates in Chicago, but something was missing. Maybe we were just a little too cool in Chicago. Or we just didn't give it our hearts and soul. Whereas here with Ray Lewis being that emotional leader and as spiritual as he is takes us over the top with that emotional advantage we have over the other team on Sundays. "-Brendan Ayanbadejo
I have said repeatedly that the Bears have major issues with their scheme and talent evaluation. These are still major problems. However, the above cited quote from this Pro Bowl ex-Bear confirms my suspicions regarding the biggest problem on this team- their heart. I never get the feeling that this group of Bears actually loves playing football. I don't see the inspired play. I don't mean that you need to see them jumping up and down, yelling and screaming. You can see the joy and inspiration in every play, every snap. The Bears have no player that inspires, no player that sets the bar high and no player to hold the others accountable on every play. Not just every game, but every play.
A player like Ray Lewis. Lewis dances, yells, jumps around before the game. One may think that such antics are unnecessary in the pro game. Think again. Great football is not played for the money. Great football is played for wins and championships. Lewis, despite the antics, plays every play with all of his heart and soul. You can see it on Sundays. Lewis's antics may invoke chuckles and disdain. It is who he is. More importantly are his actions on the field, when the ball is snapped. Ray Lewis inspires his team to greatness. He demands the same level of effort and commitment that he displays. He will never be forgotten when the history of the game is written. This is a fact, and it cannot be disputed.
The Bears have no such player. My attorney, Bill Stanton, pointed out that the last time he has seen true inspired leadership in a Bear jersey was Brian Urlacher's greatest game, the come-from-behind win at Arizona in 2005. He's right. That was a Ray Lewis-like performance. Urlacher decided to take over the game and willed his team to victory. Great football is like the definition of pornography, "You know it when you see it." Name me another similar performance by a Bear player in the past two seasons. You can't. The Ravens get one every week.
The Bear players probably feel that it is too "college" to act all rah-rah. As Brendan says, "we were too cool." They probably laugh at Ray Lewis' dance moves or blow off the phenomenon that is Tim Tebow. They act funny. Similarly, I didn't want to like Tebow at first. All Christian and fist-pumps, he was made out to be a football God before putting on a Florida Gator helmet. Now, I am one who believes that Tebow has a chance to be the "Greatest College Football Player in History." He has won me over. From putting his team on his back after an early season-"bad loss" to Ole Miss, to his bloody pep talks to his teammates, to being the grand marshal of the Gator parade to the national championship, Tebow motivates those talented yet cynical young men to greater heights. Tebow is a Geek God of football. I have played with guys like that and would love to have played with Tebow. When players like Lewis and Tebow are on your team, it seems like you win more games than you lose. Now that's the funny thing.