Okay, all. I'm going to leave this post up for the next 24 to 48 hours and just let everybody talk in the comments as free agency gets underway. I'll update as the Bears become involved in the process or in regards to any move that effects the Bears.
7:28 pm - Lorenzo Neal and Marlon McCree were cut by San Diego which might make three members of that team Bears targets. Neal is a big clubhouse guy and arguably the best fullback in the game. If the Bears are interested in Turner, why not make it a combo?
Bears also are looking to trade Brian Griese. No one wants him. Shock.
12:46 pm - The NFL has lost its mind. The Raiders paid a no-name in Tommy Kelly the largest contract in defensive tackle history. The Jets are giving up the second day of their draft for Kris Jenkins and guaranteeing him 20 MILLION to boot! The Vikings paid Madieu Williams like he's not Madieu Williams and are looking to do the same to Bernard Berrian.
Right now I disagree whole-heartedly with Jay Mariotti. Stay sober. Making deals like these in the spur of the moment is what lands teams in salary cap hell. We have needs but we need to be smart about filling them and dropping huge contracts on mediocre talent - and that is what is available out there - is not the way to make your football team better.
Still keeping my eyes on the Michael Turner and Julius Jones situations.
4:04 pm - ESPN is reporting that Shaun Rogers has been traded to the Bengals, thus taking one of the best defenders in our division elsewhere.
Also a note reported by some of you guys in the comments and by the Sun-Times: the Briggs well is apparently dry. I'm not sure what to make of the situation. Does this mean the rest of the league doesn't believe he's worth the money he's asking? (He's not) I'll repeat my new mantra on this: every day that Briggs isn't signed by another team is a day closer he is to re-joining the Chicago Bears.
And let me add a note aboutt Bernard Berrian. If he goes to Minnesota, we're looking at a huge free agent bust. Berrian thrives on out-running defenders for deep balls and TJax ain't getting that job done. What Berrian hasn't realized yet is the quarterback instability he so despises in Chicago is what's put him on the verge of stardom: Rex Grossman can hit him on big throws and take the blame for all his drops.
6:55 pm - Bears have scheduled a visit for Bryant Johnson for early next week. I know I'm going to catch hell for this but I'm going to say it anyway: the Bears should make an offer to Randy Moss right now. They should throw a fortune at him. Can you imagine a defense having to prepare for Randy on one side and Devin on the other? Nobody...nobody...nobody...has the corners for that.
Going out for the night, ladies and gents. If anything happens, I'll find it in my morning sobriety.
Apparently Packers.com put on its homepage that Brett Favre is retiring from professional football. Sportingnews.com jumped on it immediately. They have since pulled the page down.
You never know with Favre but this could be the best thing to happen to the Chicago Bears in an awful long time. Stay tuned...
...and we're back.
The Packers are now saying this was a site malfunction and they were simply preparing for the possibility of Favre's retirement, which they in no way expect. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Brett Favre is one of the most selfish athletes in all the universe and he continues to handcuff the Packers year-in-and-year-out in order to steal a couple free agency headlines.
It looks like another year of Favre using the television cameras to show us that his receiver ran the wrong route is upon us.
I'll take a look at things as free agency opens this evening and be on the site most of the day tomorrow to monitor the happenings around the NFL.
No surprise but the Bears are not going to keep Bernard Berrian from the free agency market. Not if you believe what you read in the paper. According to Brad Biggs:
"The contract offer the Bears made to the wide receiver that he turned down included $8 million to sign and totaled $25 million over five years...Berrian is seeking $24.5 million over the first three years of a contract, so you can see the distance between him and the Bears as the shopping season is about to open."
I was a firm supporter of applying the franchise tag to Berrian to keep him in Chicago another year but these contract demands are a bit absurd. Berrian wants to make over eight million dollars a year in a league where the average salary of the top five receivers in the game is under eight. A good young player with tremendous potential? Yes. One of the league's elite? No.
But he'll probably get it because there's always someone out there looking to pay it and his name is usually Dan Snyder.
I'm not one to emplore Halas Hall to do anything (Bullshit alert! Bullshit alert!) especially at the time of the year where I prefer to put my favorite ballclub in the hands of people who are paid to work in professional football (do the Bears have any?). But there's currently a deal to be made that the Chicago Bears must consider making: trading for Jonathan Vilma from the New York Jets.
Vilma is a brilliant linebacker and would be a cost-effective solution to losing Lance Briggs to free agency. He's fallen out of favor in Eric Mangini's 3-4 scheme but could slide onto the weak side in the Covie-2 without missing a step. Vilma's 100+ guaranteed tackles would help solidify the run defense and allow the organization focus their attention on the safety position where it belongs. Take a look at his numbers. If you're not in the New York area, you probably don't know just how good this player is.
I'm not begging for the trade but I'm asking Jerry to consider it, especially with Vilma's taking a physical in Detroit today. This is a division-changing player who will have a tremendous career resurgence wherever he lands. I'd like to see him land at Soldier Field.
Matt Mosley, the newest talking head to joint up at the Worldwide Leader, has written an uncharacteristically scathing indictment of General Manager Jerry Angelo and the Chicago Bears organization and something about it struck me very odd. Mosley despises the decision to re-sign Rex Grossman and denounces the quarterback controversy between he and Kyle Orton as "one of the least compelling quarterback battles of the modern era." He's right but he doesn't offer a single counter-option. No quarterbacks attainable through a blockbuster trade. No big name cuts the team can scoop up in free agency. To paraphrase the entire column, "The Bears are dumb."
What exactly are the Bears supposed to do to solidify the quarterback position this offseason, Matt? Donovan McNabb, who hasn't played a full season in years? Derek Anderson, soon to be locked up long-term by Cleveland? Trade their future away to move up and get Matt Ryan? I don't love either player we've got but you can't argue against two facts: Rex Grossman took the Bears to a Super Bowl and Kyle Orton is 12-6 as a starter.
The real deficiency in Mosley's column? This paragraph:
"Each candidate can win games when matched with a championship-caliber defense. But judging by last season and the impending departure of linebacker Lance Briggs, among others, those days are long gone."
Mosley simply joins a long line of ESPN commentators who is asked to perform the impossible task of covering every team in the NFL without anywhere nearing an expertise on any of them. Is he referring to the Bears defense that played with a makeshift secondary for ten plus weeks? How about the team who saw it's two stars - Harris and Urlacher - hobble through the season? One was voted to the Pro Bowl and the other was the best defensive player in football for the last month. Those days aren't long gone, Matt, not even close. The Bears defense is still the most talented in their division. Their special teams are still the best in football. And if they can find consistent play from the quarterback spot, they'll win the NFC North and be back in the postseason.
When? Next year. 2008. Here we come. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm back.
So long have I sported my passion for the burnt and navy on the sleeves of my Urlacher, Waddle, Zorich and McMahon that it's a wonder the Chicago Bears can still surprise me. But sure enough they can and today they did. No, I'm not surprised that the Bears are in danger of losing high quality free agents who've been an asset to the organization. I'm not surprised that the Bears have re-signed a liability at the quarterback position. I wasn't surprised until I came across Mike Mulligan's column in today's Sun-Times, which makes it very clear that while the Bears extended Rex Grossman through next season, they'll be looking to extend Kyle Orton through 2010 in the coming days.
So you'll have an open quarterback battle between a man who is under contract for seven months and a man who is under contract for the remainder of the decade? Isn't that like having a joust and only giving one of the horsemen a lance? John Clayton reported on ESPN that Rex's contract was essentially a free-pass to the starting job. Jay Mariotti wrote today that the Rex contract constituted the end of the Chicago Bears franchise as we know it. I think everyone might be missing the boat.
If the Bears lock up Kyle Orton through 2010 then I fully expect KO to be the starting quarterback to start the 2008 season. Kyle's time is now, this offseason, to improve upon the flourish with which he ended 2007. The Bears played their best football at the end of the season for a myriad of reasons but there's no denying who the quarterback was. Orton should show up to camp bigger, stronger and shaven. He should act like this is his football team. He should tell the Mariottis and Rosenblooms of the world that the future is him. Is it true? I have no idea. But Halas Hall sure is leaning that way.
Rex Grossman has signed a tenuous-at-best one year deal with the Chicago Bears. No word on how incentive-laden it is but Jerry Angelo has confirmed that Rex will compete with Kyle Orton for the starting quarterback job in camp. Here's what the Angels had to say (from Sun-Times):
''This is a little bit different...I don't want to say it's tricky, but you're going to have to have a real plan in place to be fair with everybody and to make sure that you're making the right decision because once we make that decision, we're going to go forward with it and we're going to stay with it...[Grossman] understands it. He's talked to Lovie about it. I've talked to his agent about it. He's fine with it. Obviously we want to get the best player under center. Kyle did some good things at the end. I think he deserves the right to compete at the position. I know that this isn't going to be something ... I don't see this dragging out into the season. We will have a pretty good feel as we already do about the guys and what the tiebreaker is, that obviously has to be determined by the coaches."
For some more details, read here.
No contract information available yet but I'm assuming the Bears didn't have to re-finance Soldier Field to keep him around.
Here's five things to look for this weekend.
1. Apparently the Chicago Tribune website is on vacation so turn to the Sun-Times who are actually covering the Bears this offseason. The Trib is at its best when David Haugh is writing beat coverage and news and the roster of columnists are providing opinions.
2. According to the Sun-Times and several other news sites, the Bears will sign Rex to a two-year deal sometime in the next two days.
3. Good article from Brad Biggs making it pretty clear that the Bears are not ready to lose Briggs, Berrian or Dejo to free agency just yet and will continue negotiating over the course of the week. They are also actively looking to wrap-up Tommie Harris long-term.
4. Pay attention to two positions if you are following the combine this weekend: offensive line and running back. (The word on the street is those might be the two deepest positions coming out.) The Bears could be looking there with their first two picks.
5. If you're a betting man, play Jimmie Johnson's 48 car to rebound tomorrow after a disappointing Daytona. He's on the pole and he's traditionally strong at California.
Interestingly enough, both Brendon Ayanbadejo and Lance Briggs are headed to the free agency market for the same reason: they believe the Chicago Bears undervalue their play at linebacker. Briggs wants the contract deserving of a top tier defender and will take the route of Rosie Colvin and Warrick Holdman, neither of which has ever reached the level they established beside Brian Urlacher. Dejo simply wants to be in that linebacker rotation and deserves to be - but our elite coaching staff does not think so and thus are preparing to lose the best special teams tackler in the NFL.
Stay tuned to the site as I'll be updating as I get information regarding anything and everything Bears.
BEARS CUT RUBEN BROWN
Two points to be made about this. (1) The Bears now have released 2/5 of their starting offensive line from 2007 and this should clearly enter them in the Alan Faneca conversation. (2) Why is Adam Archuleta still on the goddamn roster?
LOVIE EMPHATIC ABOUT WANTING MIKE BROWN BACK
Didn't see in the Tribune till just now but Lovie is quoted extensively this morning at the Scouting Combine as wanting Mike Brown back on the team next year. If he hasn't been cut yet, might he not be getting cut at all?
BEARS WILL NOT FRANCHISE BERRIAN
Jerry Angelo announced the Bears will not use the franchise tag on Bernard Berrian, almost assuring they're going to lose their top wideout to the free agency market. The Bears now have major holes at every single offensive position outside of center and tight end.
JERRY ANGELO CONFIRMS HE WANTS MIKE BROWN BACK
From the Suntimes:
"We hope so,'' Angelo said when asked if he envisions a role for Brown this year. "Right now all I can say is he is under contract, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rehabbing, everything is going real well. Hopefully, by another month Mike will be given a clean bill of health and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll go from there."
Brown is rehabbing in San Diego, where he resides in the offseason now.
Very basic. Very simple. Here I come.
FRANCHISE BERNARD BERRIAN
This is the smartest football move to make right now. Bernard is the best receiver on the open market and using the franchise tag will enable the Bears to both avoid a cumbersome signing bonus and give the player another year to elevate his play to the level of a number one receiver. If he does, he gets paid.
SIGN LANCE BRIGGS
Why make linebacker a liability with this much cap space? The money's there and the player's earned it. Don't repeat the errors of eighty-six.
CUT ADAM ARCHULETA, RICKY MANNING JR.
Why these two moves haven't already taken place is beyond me?
FREE AGENCY? OFFENSIVE LINE.
The Bears aren't signing a big name running back and aren't finding a starting safety. These moves will enable the Bears to focus on bringing in some immediate help on the offensive line.
Muhsin Muhammad's disappointing tenure with the Chicago Bears has ended as the Bears released him today, while also re-signing Alex Brown through 2011.
This puts a great deal of pressure on the Bears to make a deal with Bernard Berrian or face the possibility of entering the free agency period desperate for human beings to place on the roster next to the letters WR.
ADDENDUM #1: Apologies for site problems today. We're back up and running.
ADDENDUM #2: Fred Miller and Darwin Walker are also gone. No surprise in either place.
Here's what Jerry Angelo had to say about the prospect of bringing Rex Grossman back to Chicago:
"We would definitely like to have Rex back. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve talked internally, and at some point we will visit with him and see if we can create a situation thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s workable for all of us. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve invested a lot in Rex, and we see him competing for the starting position. Given the familiarity that he has with our system and us with him, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no downside. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a good soldier for us in terms of whatever role weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve asked him to play, particularly this past season. We feel that having him in the mix makes us a better football team."
Expect the Bears to open a competition this summer between Sexy, KO and either a veteran player-to-be-named later or a rookie. This passage from Jerry makes it very clear that the team will not be in the Donovan McNabb or Derek Anderson markets and will most likely opening the 2008 season with #8 under center.
The story here is Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith who will not be officially hitching themselves to the Grossman wagon. If Rex struggles early and is replaced en route to another subpar Bears season, I'm not sure how either survives to lead the team in 2009.
We here at DaBearsBlog (and by we, I mean me) would like to throw our hat in the political arena and endorse Illinois Senator and assumed Green Bay Packers-hater Barack Obama for President of the United States of America. As a registered independent, it is my duty to support a man who seems to have upset equally the bases of both major political parties and stirred the spirits of America's youth enough to actually get them to vote.
Oh yeah, and someone showed me a picture of him wearing this...
It's hard to reconcile the constant conflict between the brain and heart in life, in sports, in anything. What the brain sees as obvious, the heart never does. What the heart feels is right, the brain can't understand. Such is the case with the Chicago Bears and Mike Brown. The brain (we hope Jerry Angelo) must see Brown as a salary cap casualty, a player he himself described unreliable, a time gone bye-bye. The heart (we fans) still remember the overtime interceptions in 2001 against San Francisco and Cleveland. We know what this defense looks like with him and fear what it looks like without him. We know he's Bob Sanders.
I wouldn't cut him. Our of loyalty? Maybe. Because I believe in the redemptive power of sports? Probably. But more importantly because I can't bare to see him come back to an All-Pro level in someone else's laundry. This is a moment for Jerry Angelo to sit with Mike Brown and come to an agreement. Adjust the contract. Keep him here. Pile money into incentives. I mean it when I say the following: if Mike Brown reaches contract incentives, the Bears will be in the postseason.
So with cuts due sometime late today or tomorrow, I'll be hoping to not see Mike Brown's name on the list, even though I fully expect it to be there. Maybe a last minute plea from a fan means something. Probably it doesn't. But I'm not known for using my brain.
The Bears have been contacted about bringing Marty Booker back to Chicago and I think a lot of us would welcome that return with open arms. Book was a professional receiver with terrific hands and would provide an Amani Toomer-like security blanket to whatever disaster is playing quarterback for this team.
What do I love about this the most? Brian Urlacher is apparently pitching the organization to sign him according to Brad Biggs. For a team that seemed desperate for offensive leadership and revealed with great honesty how much they missed Thomas Jones in 2007, any move that makes the locker room a comfortable place is a good move.
Here's what Booker had to say about being traded:
"I took it hard, real hard, when I got traded. You know, I had just signed that nice contract and I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect to be out of there like that. I hold no grudges against anybody. You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do that in this business ever, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go bite the hand that fed you. Everything comes full circle and I was never going to trash those guys. I need a job. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an opportunity there."
To quote a little musical about the French revolution...bring him home.
There are thirty-two teams in the National Football League. One of them didn't lose a game in the 2007 regular season. One of them needed overtime to secure their only win. But there is only one team in the league (ONE!) that can answer "no" to all three of the following questions:
For the Chicago Bears this is a very, very bad place to be on February 12th and when you take into consideration the plausible move of John Tait back to the right side, the Bears can now put a question mark next to the four most important positions on the offensive side of the ball. These are not positions the draft will improve for 2008 so the level of importance on the next two and half months increases tremendously if the Bears are to be competitive next season.
Three questions. No answers. If there was ever a time to hold Jerry Angelo's feet to the fire, it is now. How does a general manager with his tenure rationalize this team's lack of skill position talent? More importantly, what does he do now? The 2008 season doesn't start for seven months but it'll take less than three for Bears fans to create realistic expectations.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News is apparently some kind of special teams guru and yesterday he released his rankings of the best special teams units in the NFL, placing the Chicago Bears a not-so-surprising first. I've said before and I'll say it again: Bears special teams is what put this team in the Super Bowl a year ago and is what kept a dead team alive throughout most of 2007. Can you remember another team that forces opponents to gameplan for their kick returner before they turn on the offensive and defensive game films?
But Devin Hester is primed for a Drew Rosenhaus-driven record contract. Brandon Ayanbadejo currently faces free agency with the reputation of the best special teamer in the game. Rashied Davis and Adrian Peterson - two of the most assured tacklers on coverage units - both could be in different uniforms come next season. Like everything else in Bearsland, special teams success is fragile a fifty year-old vase.
BERRIAN GOOD AS GONE?
NFL Network and Drew Rosenhaus don't believe the Bears will use the franchise tag on Bernard Berrian, making it difficult to see Jerry locking him up for the long term. I'm in the minority here but I would absolutely franchise BB. Yes you'd be overpaying him for one season but if he has the type of breakout year he's capable of having, you'd simply be investing in your future number one receiver. If he plods along with 65 catches and 700 yards, you cut the string,
THIS MADE ME LAUGH
To celebrate the Westminster Dog Show, the Trib staff compiled a list of Chicago athletes who dogged it. Here's the best entry:
Cade McNown, Bears
Talent was the least of Cade McNown's problems. He put in so little prep time into a late-2000 game that teammates contemplated an outbreak of tweaked hamstrings if coaches started him the next week. At one point, mild-mannered center Casey Wiegmann whirled around and screamed at McNown for the non-existent audibles he was concocting. At least dogs have loyalty going for them; McNown was not so encumbered.
There's a story that snuck its way into the Chicago newspapers today that should frighten the living shit out of every person who considers the Chicago Bears an integral piece of their existence. Brian Urlacher had "minor" neck surgery and some believe we should be worried. After all, the neck is essentially the storage capsule for the spinal cord and if someone is cutting into the capsule, it ain't minor.
Let's make something clear: Brian Urlacher IS the Chicago Bears organization and one needs to do nothing more than survery the Soldier Field stands on Sunday to understand that. Any doubts surrounding the unabashed superstar puts not only 2008 in question but the entire era to come. We can talk about free agency, Michael Turner, the scouting combine and any other God forsaken thing but without Urlacher on the football field come opening day...the rest is silence.
The only thing "minor" about today's news is the coverage but I can assure you that any surgerical setbacks and "minor" becomes "major" very quickly. This is the time to hold your breath. This is the time to wait and see. This is the time to pray, should that tickle your fancy. If you hope for these Chicago Bears just one-year removed from appearing in a Super Bowl to head back to the big game, #54 is the most essential piece to that puzzle. So I say...
Hail Mary, full of grace...
It's hard to decipher what the Bears should do in the first round of the 2008 draft without being privy to the next couple months of free agency. But since there isn't a damn thing to talk about in Bearsland (David Haugh is writing columns comparing Rex to Eli and Da Site is preaching the benefits of Adrian Peterson in the passing game) I figured why not talk about something.
So where do the Bears go with the first pick in the draft? I don't mean the player, I mean the position. Here's my two-tier answer:
Their most pressing need is safety.
The deepest talent pool in the first round is offensive line.
So I say take...
Are the New York Giants a great football team? I don't know. Are the New York Giants the world champions of the greatest sport on the planet? Without a doubt. Now the question remains: what does the the Giants victory on Sunday teach the remainder of the NFL (primarily the NFC) about how to survive and thrive in a supposedly lopsided league?
The answer is frighteningly simple. If you hit the other guys' quarterback and hit him often, you can beat any team in the NFL. This is not a new lesson for Halas Hall; at least it shouldn't be. This is the lesson of Buddy Ryan. The lesson of the 46 defense. The lesson of the only Super Bowl champion this organization has ever been honored to celebrate. Watching Strahan dominate the left side, Osi battle through double teams, Justin Tuck play like a man possessed and even Kavika Mitchell surge through the Pats O-line on well-designed blitz assignments made me think of that ballgame in January of 1986. Eli Manning might have been named the MVP but the Giants defensive line won the football game. And they wont by hitting the covery boy every chance they got.
The Bears must understand that the arrogance of the Tampa-2 format is no longer a viable gameplan when tested against the elite offensive powers of the AFC. You must attack the quarterback. You must utilize the speed and closing ability of a Brian Urlacher. The Bears have an incredibly talented defensive line but any offensive coach worth his salt will find ways to block four. It's when that coach doesn't know where the fifth guy is coming from that makes your attack devastating.
The Bears have holes on defense. They are desperately in need of a safety who can bring players to the ground and depth at the defensive tackle position. They'll need to replace the sure-to-depart Lance Briggs. But perhaps their most pressing need is a re-evaluation of their defensive scheme. In the copycat NFL, the Giants have set the blueprint. Get to the quarterback, get the trophy.
The following article from the Trib is pretty interesting and Mr. Huppke quotes America's preeminent Bears authority very early on.
The standard Super Bowl recipe -- one part chili, 99 parts testosterone -- has been spiced up this year with a pinch of "man crush."
The heterosexually acceptable term, aimed with increasing frequency at Hollywood-handsome New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, has risen from awkward obscurity to become a comfortable part of everyday dudespeak.
It permits anyone, from male sports talk radio hosts to the chubby fellow at the end of the bar, to openly admit their affection, or even infatuation, with another man and his manly life.
Take, for example, die-hard Chicago Bears fan Jeff Hughes, co-founder of a Web site called Da' Bears Blog. On the blog, Hughes wrote about his man crush a couple of years ago on retired Bears wide receiver Tom Waddle.
"To an entire generation of Bears fans, he's something of a folk hero, kind of like a Paul Bunyan," Hughes said wistfully. "I wonder if he knows it."
He might, but Waddle is presently preoccupied. On his ESPN 1000 morning radio show, the receiver, legendary for his on-field toughness, has repeatedly confessed to having a man crush on Brady.
Hughes said he understands, and isn't jealous.
The term "man crush" doesn't carry any sexual implication -- it's just one man's acknowledgment that another man is attractive and leads an enviable life. Take Brady -- rugged good looks, a supermodel girlfriend in Gisele Bundchen, tons of money, can do no wrong. It echoes back to the days when men longed for the lady-draped lifestyles of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin.
Of course men back then didn't call it a crush or devote much time to examining the phenomenon. Which raises a question: Is admitting to a man crush just smart-alecky, modern-day barroom banter, or does it reflect a loosening of the normally uptight American male's sexual mores?
Eli Coleman, director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School, said language often signals a shift in sexual attitudes. In this case, it could suggest another step away from homophobia.
"If this term is legitimizing that it's OK for a straight man to find another man attractive in a non-sexual way, then I would hope it would be something that would help break down barriers," he said. "I think it's very healthy. Our men have traditionally had difficulty emotionally connecting with other men, and underneath that the difficulty has always been the fear of homosexuality."
When the good-looking "Broadway" Joe Namath was tossing the pigskin for the New York Jets in Super Bowl III, it's unlikely many gents in Newark were talking about their crush on the QB. But now, sky's the limit. Man crushes on George Clooney, Brett Favre and Brad Pitt abound.
"We have not in the past found men, even in an open kind of way, acknowledging how attractive another guy is," said Rick Garcia, political director of the gay rights group Equality Illinois. "Women could say, 'Oh look at Sophia Loren, isn't she gorgeous?' But years ago you never heard guys say, 'Rock Hudson is so handsome, isn't he great looking?' People are just much more comfortable with same-gender feelings."
And to any who might think the "man crush" term is a sign of lexicographic hedonism, take note: the No. 2 ranked guy on the Web site mancrush.com is none other than Jesus Christ. (As of late Saturday, Tom Brady was at No. 3, manwiched between Jesus and Teddy Roosevelt.)
"Men are very jealous of what other men have," said Waddle, the unabashed Brady admirer. "To see a guy who has three Super Bowl titles, the beautiful girl, everything, it makes you think, 'Hey, if I could go back and be somebody, that's who I'd want to be.'"
Marc Silverman, Waddle's on-air partner at ESPN 1000, credits Brady and the hype surrounding the Patriots' run at an undefeated season with the recent rise in man crush declarations.
"I think it's certainly adopted more by sports fans, for sure," Silverman said. "When we were kids, how many times were you pretending to be your favorite sports guy? This is the same kind of thing, only for adults."
Undoubtedly there are some grizzled men who bristle at this development, wondering how, exactly, talk of crushes seeped into the granite of guy lexicon.
The concept may have risen from an early 1990s episode of the TV show "Seinfeld," in which baseball star Keith Hernandez befriends Jerry Seinfeld. The comedian behaves like a smitten teenager, at one point saying: "I know he's a guy ... but I LIKE him!"
Christopher White, director of education and training at the National Sexuality Resource Center at San Francisco State University, has a different theory.
He believes the not-too-distant metrosexual phase, in which men were told it's OK to use hair and body products, dress nice and be sensitive, may have left some American males with a desire to return to their traditionally masculine roots. So guys today look at stars like Brady and put them on a pedestal.
"It's kind of twisted," White said. "Straight men don't seem to know how to deal with their own sexuality now. They've been told they should be primped and perfumed and dressed up, but then they see these masculine guys and they want to be them. It's a weird convergence of all these trends."
Call it bromance or bromosexuality, call it what you will, but there's no doubt that come Sunday night, many straight men will be glued to Super Bowl XLII, watching the game, the halftime ads and, in particular, a sweaty, stubble-faced Tom Brady. Some of those men will get googly-eyed and wish they and No. 12 could be best buds.
Crushes will blossom. And there won't be a darn thing wrong with that.
I'll go on record and pick this Super Bowl I have no interest in. Fine. Here's my prediction.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 40
NEW YORK GIANTS 10
The following appeared on the home page of this website on the Friday before last year's Super Bowl. I hope it makes you sufficiently sad.
Bear down, Chicago Bears...
It is on the defensive line this Sunday. The push from the perimeter will be there from Brown, Ogunleye and Anderson but there must be presence up the middle from Tank, Ian and Israel. Allow Manning to step up and throw and we're in for a very long day. Tank Johnson as MVP...that'd really put a full dump in Jay Mariotti's shorts.
Make every play, clear the way to Victory...
When the throws are there to be made, Rex Grossman must make them. He doesn't need to be brilliant but he needs to be efficient. Every first down keeps PeyRod off the field.
Bear down Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly...
The Colts have not transformed though the world wants us all to believe they have. They have soft wide receivers and are undersized. Every catch they make, every gain on the ground...the Bears must hit them and hit them hard. If they want a loan from the Bank of the Middle of the Field, make them pay interest.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation, with your T formation...
Benson and Jones must do their best impression of Taylor and Jones-Drew and Ron Turner must not make the mistakes of Herm Edwards and Brian Billick. The Colts defense is vulnerable on the edges and that is where the Bears must run, run, run. Wear the Colts down and the Bears can repeat their fourth quarter success of two weeks ago.
Bear Down, Chicago Bears. And let them know why you're wearing the crown...
Keep that chip on your shoulder. Play like your mama slapped you. Play like Daddy said you'll never be nothing. You deserve to be in this Super Bowl no matter what the pundits say. Play like it.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois...
I've never had more fun being a Bears fan. Arizona. Giants Stadium on Sunday night. Gould in OT. A snowy fourth quarter against the Saints. This has a been a brilliant season.
Chicago Bears, Bear Down!
One more game. Finish.