Texas Longhorns football, wrestling icon Steve “Mongo” McMichael exclusive

STEVE-MCMICHAEL

The NFL is the richest, most powerful sports league going these days. Therefore, they have the most money to spend on spin control and message manipulation. However, retired NFL players (and this goes for older ex-jocks across the board in sports, not just football) are almost a million times more quotable than what you hear from athletes currently beholden to the corporatespeak training of NFL public relations departments.

And then there’s Steve “Mongo” McMichael, who’s on another, unclassifiable level. When interviewing him, you can’t really do Q & A with this 1985 Chicago Bears and Texas Longhorns legend.

He’s too smart and interesting for that.

Instead, the process is like a more sophisticated word association exercise. And the end result resembles the feeling of playing a radio controlled boat game at an amusement park. You put an effort in towards steering the vessel in the direction you want, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get to your intended destination. And even if you do, it won’t be via your intended path.

For part 2 go here

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Bears-Lions Exchange

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Paul M. Banks and H. Jose Bosch preview Bears-Lions on Sunday

(PMB) Wow!!! Your Lions won! What is the world coming to? Of course, Detroit also once produced a very good and well-accomplished Caucasian hip-hop artist, so I know the Motor City can be “where amazing happens.”

After all four teams in the NFC North won for the first time since Week 10 of the 2005 season (I think we can guess which team has held the league back those four years!!), the Bears remain tied for second place in the division with the Green Bay Packers (2-1), one game behind the Minnesota Vikings (3-0) and one game ahead of the suddenly sizzling Lions. With that torrid winning streak the Lions are on, should the rest of the division be wary of the footsteps behind them? Is this a new Golden Age for the NFC North?staffordgrinding

(HJB) Of course the rest of the division should be scared! OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the time will come where the Lions aren’t an easy two wins on the schedule. Is that time now? I wouldn’t go that far yet. This week’s game will go a long way in answering that question. But if the Lions give the Bears a good game or (dare I say) win, the NFC North should watch out. Especially the Bears, who travel to Detroit to end the season.

(PMB) I noticed the Lions are 30th in pass defense, so the area expected to be Detroit’s biggest weakness (and that really says something..it’s like being the shortest midget, or the fattest sumo wrestler) is their secondary. I’ve accepted the fact that the Bears WRs are not as bad as I once thought, but do you think they’re mediocre enough to give the DBs some burn marks, complementing their Honolulu Blue and silver?
(HJB) On most weeks all you need are two legs, two hands and a heartbeat and you’ll beat the Detroit secondary. But I wouldn’t put it past any receiver missing a limb to have a career day against the Lions secondary. I’ve only watched one game this season (and they won!) and Washington clearly didn’t fear the DBs. Just 13 runs the entire game for the Skins.Detroit couldn’t get pressure on the quarterback or cover the receivers. Santana Moss had a big day. The only confidence I have is that the Bears tend to play down to their opponents rather than crushing them. But Cutler may change that. Is he a fantasy free agent?

(PMB) Possibly, you’ll have to go on the open market and check. Good joke about the Detroit secondary. On the flip side, tell me about the youngster Cliff Avril, is he the real deal? And what about this year’s crop of rookies, do you think they’re ready to defend Chicago’s VAUNTED 28th ranked rushing attack?

I don’t think it’s all Forte’s fault. Yes, he’s looked bad, but how do you “run to daylight” when your offensive line never lets you see any? The OL has been pretty bad, as it’s been incessant nighttime for Forte through the first three games.

(HJB) You mean 2008 Sporting News All-rookie team member Cliff Avril? He clearly had a good first season, but he injured his hamstring the first week of the season and has been out since. If he plays this week, he probably won’t be much of a factor. You might be thinking of safety Louis Delmas, who hasn’t done anything to improve the secondary from what I’ve seen. Or defensive tackle Sammie Hill, who has just one solo tackle in two games. Whoever you mean, the defense might not have to worry about the running attack because of the awful secondary.

But the Bears can’t completely ignore the running game. They need to, at the very least, convert on short yardage situations, something Washington struggled with.  That’s killed them, especially when the field got shorter. So the Bears may not have to worry about the run, but they need it juuuuuuuust enough for the win.

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(PMB) I figured I’d close on a high note, and bring up a stat which should become even more superlative after Sunday. For the season, Cutler has now thrown for 760 yards on 65 of 101 passing with six touchdowns and five interceptions for an 86.2 passer rating. Cutler’s 253.3 passing yards per game average is currently highest in Bears franchise history. Cutler is on pace to throw for a franchise record 4,053 yards this season. I show you this chart for two reasons

1.) it highlights how sorry Bears QBs have been over the years

2.) Look at who #2 is on this list, your good old friend was indeed the most accomplished Captain of “Air Chicago”

kramer

(HJB) That’s a pretty sad state of affairs when your quarterbacks are just as pathetic as the Lions. And in great Chicago tradition you’ve signed a guy that carries himself like anything other than an NFL quarterback. If I want a beer pong partner at a frat house, I want Jay Cutler. Hell, I’d want any Bears quarterback from the last 10 years. If I want a clutch quarterback, someone who can actually win me games late in the season and not just rack up stats, well Cutler wouldn’t be my guy. I hope you guys enjoy having a quarterback sans neck beard but when the games matter most, you’re going to wish you had a winner like Matthew Stafford … who will be a winner next year … probably. As for this week, Cutler will probably look like Joe Montana.

MOST PASSING YARDS PER GAME             Bears History

Player  Season  G    Att   Cmp   Yds    Yds/G

1 . Jay Cutler 2009 3 101    65   760      253.3

2. Erik Kramer 1995 16  522  315   3,838   239.9

3 . Billy Wade 1962   14  412   225       3,172    226.6

4 . Sid Luckman 1947  12   323  176    2,712    226.0

5 . Johnny Lujack 1949 12 312 162    2,658    221.5

Bears Open Camp with Expectations, Controversy

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By Paul M. Banks

When the Chicago Bears reported to Camp Bourbonaiss today, with the first practice taking place tomorrow afternoon, they were greeted with both high expectations and manufactured controversy.

Perhaps no team had a more productive (or publicized) off-season than Chicago, as they swapped QBs with the Denver Broncos, essentially stealing Pro Bowl signal caller Jay Cutler out of the Rocky Mountain state. Your grandparents were in diapers the last time they had a QB this good, and given how that’s, you know, kind of an important position, this move was HUGE- especially considering that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is the only other legitimate starting NFL quarterback in the NFC North division.

The Bears also made tremendous upgrades to their Offensive Line in Orlando Pace and the underrated Kevin Shaffer, augmenting what was previously one of the team’s weakest units. The world of sports betting has taken notice, installing the Bears as the odds on favorite to win the NFC North.

Vegas also thinks the Bears have the best chance of any NFC North team to win both the NFC and the Super Bowl, as the “Monsters of the Midway” have the best odds among the four teams in both categories. When people start engaging in Monday night football betting this fall, they’ll only have one chance (December 28th when Chicago hosts division rival Minnesota) to attempt to capitalize on the Bears’ historic Monday night woes. Avoiding a Monday night road game (always trouble for Chicago) is one example of how their schedule looks very promising. brian-urlacher

“Bear Weather” is essentially a myth, no matter how many meatheads tell you otherwise, as the Bears’ December record is far from superlative compared against the rest of the season. But this year, the only extremely difficult game on paper is December 20th, when they visit the Baltimore Ravens.

But it wasn’t the easy 2009 schedule or the fruitful off-season that was on orange and blue minds when the preseason started. It was a non-story surrounding a case of “he said, he said.”

Minnesota Vikings receiver Bobby Wade stated on a Twin Cities radio station yesterday that while spending last weekend in Las Vegas with Bears star LB Brian Urlacher, the Bear used a disparaging word in describing Cutler as soft.

Cutler responded thusly: “We laughed about it. I didn’t put any stock into it. I know Brian didn’t. I think he was just sorry it even came out like that. Me and Brian have been on a good relationship since I got here, and I expect it to continue that way.”

Urlacher said he was simply misquoted by Wade. “I saw Bobby at a place somewhere, and I was talking to him, but I never said what I was quoted as saying. I have a lot of respect for Jay, and I think Jay knows that. There’s never been an issue about Jay and I. We have no problems. I’m excited about football starting, and I’m excited to have him as our quarterback.”
I know training camp can certainly be boring at times, especially when no one has even taken a snap, so this exchange seems to be nothing more than a way to give starved NFL fans (that just finished enduring a long off-season) something to talk about on a very slow football news day.

Douchebracket Ghost Regional

Welcome to the d-bag bracket, a tournament deciding the most insufferable douchebags in all of sports. Please feel free to comment as much as possible, because your feedback will help determine who advances to the Final Four.

This is the bracket compiled by “The Ghost in the Machine”

1. Ron Santo- Not sure what’s more annoying, his failure to realize what’s occuring at any given moment during a Cubs game or his pathetic wait by the phone every 2 years to see if the HOF will let him in.

2. Ronnie Woo Woo Wickers- This guy shows up at Sox games. Would Soxman go to Cubs games?

3. Hockey spectators who don’t wait for the whistle.-
I missed Havlat’s  GWG last week vs Anaheim b/c the clown in front of me decided he needed to leave while play was still in progress.

4. Mike Murphy- 670 the Score midday host makes me feel like I’m listening while wearing earmuffs. Not sure he’s ever had an original thought that made sense either.

5. Adult Autograph seekers-
Let’s hang out in front of a hotel or stand in line at a fan convention for hours so that maybe my baseball card will get signed and I can put it on Ebay and make $5.

6. People Who listen to games on the radio via headphones while they’re at the game.

If you need the play by play, stay at home. If you don’t know what’s happening you shouldn’t call yourself a fan of the sport you’re attending anyway.

7. Sports Talk Radio callers with ficitious trade proposals which will never happen.

Uhhhhhh, what if the Bears traded  (insert young stud player not on team here) for (insert mid round draft pick here) and (insert bad, aging, overpaid veteran here). (Heavy breathing)

8. Baseball Fans who cheer for their team after a runner beats out the throw to 1st thwarting a possible double play.

If you’re cheering for the hustle, great, but they should be hustling all the time. This play is no better than a pop-out to the infield.

9. Players who trash talk late in games when their team has no chance of winning.

Congrats Mr. WR for getting a first down. Thanks for making the over-the-top first down gesture so everyone can see you. Oh, wait! Your team is down 21 points with 2 minutes left? Get your a$$ back in the huddle.

10. ESPN/USA Today Men’s College Basketball Poll

You’re telling me that these coaches actually sit down and fill this thing out?

11. Steve Downie-This 1st round draft pick has been eligible to play in approximately 162 pro games in the past 2 seasons. He’s been suspended for 40 of them comprised of a 20 gamer for blindsiding a player from behind and another recent 20 gamer for slashing a linesman. I like the goons in hockey, but this crosses the line.

12. Bear Weather- One of the biggest fallacies in Chicago Sports. MORE TO COME
13. Fans who run onto the field during sporting events

I’m drunk! My friends will give me $100 to run on the field! OK! I now have 5 200+lb security guards on top of me. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. BARF

14. NFL Rule Committee for not allowing the ball to be used as a prop.

Come on! This is fun; it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Creativity should be encouraged!

15. Storming the court when your team has a reasonable chance to win the game in the first place.

This unfortunate trend should be reserved for when your school has no business beating the team it just did. Not when, for instance, the 24th ranked team beats a top 10 team. PLEASE!

16. Bill Wirtz

I hope you’re watching what’s going on at the UC. If you weren’t dead, you’d be top 5 on this list, because most likely, the Hawks would still be in the tank.