Arlington Heights, Braxton Jones, Etc. – Five Thoughts for a Thursday in June

| June 16th, 2022

Because I only use Twitter for golf-related stuff this time of year, here are some quick hit thoughts about what’s happening around the Chicago Bears as teams prepare for their only “vacation time” of the season.

  • While I’ve been a seemingly lone voice against the Bears leaving Soldier Field, it is highly likely to happen now as the city is not budging when it comes to the organization’s needs/demands. Make no mistake about it, the Bears moving to Arlington Heights is not an inevitability. Chicago could stop the move. But right now, that’s simply not happening, and the team does not expect that to change.
  • There has been discussion about the Bears being potentially sold. It’s not happening, certainly not while Virginia is alive, and certainly not before Arlington Heights is completed. Folks always think of the NFL team value in terms of the sport’s popularity, television contracts, etc. But they forget how important real estate can be. If the Jets had moved to the West Side of Manhattan, their value would be increased by $2 billion. Instead, they stayed in the Jersey swamp.
  • It has been very funny to read about the number of reps Justin Fields is getting on the practice field. The same people who are salivating over it were criticizing DBB for harping on the subject – in reverse – a year ago. These were the “they’re not building the offense around Andy Dalton” fellas. Fields is getting the reps now because he needs them. New offense. New mechanics. New players around him. A lot for a young player.
  • While the focus has been on the Bears passing game for most of this off-season, I think it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Bears were a good running team in 2021 and they’re going to be a better one in 2022. Sam Mustipher, their worst offensive lineman, has been replaced. Khari Blasingame, a battering ram at fullback, has been added. And they have implemented the most successful rushing system in the modern sport. No, it’s not a championship structure. But it is a structure that should keep the team competitive in year one of the program.
  • Who is the early talk of practice? Braxton Jones. Don’t be surprised if Jones is given a chance to be the starting left tackle when the Bears return for camp.

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Why I Love Soldier Field (and don’t care if you do).

| June 25th, 2021

“It’s a pretty special place.”

-Bill Belichick on Soldier Field


I remember the first time I saw it.

December 1st 2001.

Noah and I had driven from New York to Chicago, with a layover in some shitty town in western Pennsylvania.  We drove north up Lake Shore Drive en route to our cheap hotel room booked, ironically now, in Arlington Heights.

It appeared out of nowhere. Not through a Lake Michigan fog or Arthurian mist, mind you, but through the naïve haze of “I don’t know where the fuck I am and WAIT IS THAT SOLDIER FIELD????”

I got emotional. I couldn’t help it. It was only a few moments but in those few moments I thought of a lifetime of seeing this team, loving this team, admiring this building, in all the weird ways an out of town fan had to in the years before NFL Sunday Ticket.

I thought about the photograph of three year-old me in a Jim McMahon shirt. A shirt I still have, and until very recently, was kept on a King Louie stuffed animal.

I thought about my Steve McMichael and Richard Dent Starting Lineup figures. And how I would play with them on this Chicago Bears football field carpet I got for Christmas.

I thought about going to Jets games in the Meadowlands, in our family’s season tickets, dressed all in Bears shit and cheering every time the out of town scoreboard updated in the building. After a while the section joined in those cheers and became Bears fans.

Until that moment on Lake Shore, Soldier Field was a character on television. Gordon Shumway. George Costanza. Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. You don’t meet those people because those people are not real. But here was Soldier Field. Real. And in a day I would get to walk through those gates.

What Do I Love About Soldier Field?

A buddy of mine, a construction guy in Woodside, met me at our local last Friday and asked me about “the Soldier Field thing”. I explained it to him as best I could, handing him my phone and Twitter feed for ten minutes while he laughed and laughed and laughed. His response was great. “You can’t get rid of Soldier Field. That’s like Fenway.” (I guess he’s a Red Sox fan but I don’t know that much about him.)

That’s what I love about Soldier Field. It’s a piece of American sports history. I travel to old, historic cities like Bruges and Dinan. I drink in old taverns, with stories etched in the barstools. When we sit and watch a football game at Soldier Field we become part of that building’s history, part of the story.

The fact that it is actually IN the city is one of its coolest elements. Soldier Field is a part of Chicago’s cityscape in a way that no other NFL stadium can claim to be. New York doesn’t have that. Los Angeles doesn’t have that. San Francisco and Houston and Dallas and Washington DC don’t have that. When you leave the building, marching with thousands upon thousands of other either jubilant or despairing fans, you’re deposited directly back into town. Back onto the L. Or into Kroll’s. Or into an Uber with Lou Malnati’s as the only logical destination.

The Bears are Chicago. Soldier Field is a big reason why.

Does Soldier Have Flaws? Of Course.

Does the building have enough men’s rooms? No. (Does any sports facility?)

Is it supremely cold in the dead of winter? Yes. (But so is the rest of the city. You want to move the whole town to the tropical climate of Arlington Heights?)

But you know what Soldier’s most pronounced flaw is? It’s the folks who sell their tickets to the out of town fans. Having been in that building 15 times, I have never seen the building more than 60 or 70% Bears fans. A third of the seats (at least) are always inhabited by those cheering for the opponents.

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Reverend’s Rant, Text Edition: Why Moving the Bears From Soldier Field is Insane

| March 1st, 2021

The following is Reverend Dave’s response to Adam Hoge’s suggestion that the Bears buy the Arlington Park property in Arlington Heights and irrationally move the team into the suburbs. 

I like Hoge, but what is the point of this article?

Question answers itself.

Didn’t stop me from getting riled up like everyone else.

“Soldier Field offers nothing in terms of convenience. It’s hard to access, with limited public transportation options…”

The fuck it does.

Hoge claims the Arlington Metra stop makes it more accessible than Soldier Field. Accessible to who? The northwest suburbs? Are those the only people who count? From Joliet south and anywhere East, Arlington is a longer drive than Solider Field.

Meanwhile, there are multiple Metra stops in walking distance of the stadium. There’s the El train. Hell, Union Station itself is only 40-minutes. I can already hear the outcries at that ambulatory demand, but as someone who has taken the train from the Meadowlands (departing a mere 50 yards from the stadium entrance) many times, a 40-minute walk is way better than 40 minutes squashed in a mass of humanity waiting on that one method of egress.

“What Chicago needs – a legitimate multi-purpose, 80,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof.”

The fuck it does.

Why do we need a roof? I don’t romanticize freezing but sitting in the cold can be fun at a Bears game, even if it’s not for Hoge. Feels a lot more like football in the cold. Would the Pack put a lid on Lambeau?  

More importantly though, how does the fan experience benefit from an extra 20,000 people? Will that make parking or accessibility easier? Do I want the air to be even thinner when I buy tickets in the nosebleeds? Do I care if the McCaskey’s make more off ticket revenue?  

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Five Thoughts on 2018’s Final Game From Inside the Building

| January 7th, 2019

Sunday’s loss to the Eagles is going to be discussed for a long time and Cody Parkey will remain the centerpiece of that conversation. But here are five (I think) unique observations from inside the building.

  • The crowd wanted to be the loudest and most intense crowd at Soldier Field in thirty years. But oddly, the defense deflated them constantly. The Eagles converted way too many third downs, and converted them with relative ease, with Foles throwing to wide open receivers under little pressure. Third down is when the lakefront faithful reached fever pitch. Building back up to that level, on a cold windy night, was not easy.
  • There was a distinct change in Mitch Trubisky after completing the 3rd-and-11 late. His confidence seemed shaken. His receivers were not winning on the outside. He wasn’t able to create with his legs because he was clearly nursing an injury. But after he completed that pass, he took control of the game. He was brilliant down the stretch and would have been the story of the game if…well, you know.
  • When the Bears spread the Eagles out, the Eagles had no answer. I wrote last week this was not a game the Bears should plan to win on the ground. That’s a great Eagles front. When Nagy spread them out, Trubisky had open receivers everywhere. Why didn’t the Bears change their approach in the second half? Why didn’t they recognize those mismatches? This was not a banner day for the coaching staff on either side of the ball.

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Aaron Rodgers, Soldier Field & An Opportunity To Become Champions

| December 12th, 2018

Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers has dominated the Chicago Bears. This is a fact that does not require statistical, analytical or anecdotal support. It’s as common knowledge a statement as Nazis are bad people, Roy Scheider was criminally underrated in the 1970s and a Saturday night on the Guinness makes my apartment smell decidedly worse Sunday morning.

I am not going to Google “Aaron Rodgers Record Chicago Bears”. I don’t want to molest my current football euphoria with a bunch of grabby statistics. Rodgers has dominated the Bears because since 2010, or for the bulk of Rodgers’ prime, he’s been one of the two best quarterbacks in the league and the Bears have been shit. Rodgers’ dominance is a fact. It’s just not particularly impressive.

Sunday, Rodgers will be a five or six-point underdog at Soldier Field. He brings in a mediocre team with mediocre players. But after beating a terrible Falcons team last week and watching every other sixth-seed contender in the conference lose, the Packers are still clinging to hope of playing in January and the laundry list of what they need to occur is not particularly outlandish.

First and foremost, they have to beat the Bears at Soldier Field. Something that has not been an issue in the past.

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On Sunday Night Against the High-Flying Rams, the Bears Re-Established Their Home Field Advantage

| December 10th, 2018

The 2017 Chicago Bears were 3-5 at home, winning only one game in their building after October 22nd. The 2016 Bears were 3-5 at home, winning (again) only one game at Soldier Field in November and December combined. The 2015 Bears? Glad you asked. 1-7 at home. That win came on October 4th.

The home of the Chicago Bears has been a wonderful place to play football. If you’re not the Chicago Bears. Not any longer.

Sunday night the Bears won their sixth game on the lakefront in 2018. It is the first time they’ve registered six home wins since their Super Bowl-losing campaign of 2006. And they did it as underdogs. They did it against the team with the best record in the league. They did it against one of the sport’s best offenses, and the game’s most lauded offensive mind. An offensive mind so fertile it can memorize TEN names.

But it wasn’t just what happened that resonated. It was how it happened. There were four primary components to Sunday night’s victory.

I. The Crowd

The Soldier Field faithful knew this was a massive game and acted like it. Their raucousness was bursting through my television set in Queens, NY.

II. The Weather

As predicted here, the boys from Los Angeles were desperate to trade-in Navy for Santa Monica Pier as quickly as possible.

III. The Defense

They held the Rams to 214 total yards and an average of 3.5 yards per play. They sacked Jared Goff three times and intercepted him four times. They were, in a word, dominant.

IV. The Running Game

The much-maligned rushing attack finally had their breakout performance, setting the tone and keeping the opposition on their cold, cold sideline.

There was also a fifth component.

V. The Nagy Element (Also called “Fun, Fun, Fun”)

In many ways, this vintage of the Chicago Bears has restored some of the most endearing qualities of the franchise’s history.

Celebrating every interception with an elaborate dance? This is an organization that once did a music video in the middle of the regular season to announce their coming Super Bowl title.

Handing off to fat guys at the goal line. Hell, the Bears did this in a Super Bowl.

But faking the hand off to a fat guy and throwing a touchdown pass to another fat guy? That’s next level. That’s the Nagy Element. That’s the kind of fun-loving, fuck-it-why-not shit that has permeated every single aspect of the franchise. You can see it on the sideline. You can hear it on the 400 level. You can see it in the “Club Dub” videos across Bears social media.

The head coach of the Bears is constantly telling his players to “have fun out there”. They are. And so are we.

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The 2017 Bears’ Greatest Sin: They Are a Bore

| November 14th, 2017

Sometimes fans and football media (bloggers too, for that matter) get so wrapped up in the particulars of NFL action they lose touch with the bigger picture. Snap counts. A-gaps. Running into run looks. Drama between GM and coach. It’s all the stuff that allows us to fill space – whether that’s a newspaper column or blog post or Twitter feed. And with only 60 minutes of game action a week, it’s not that easy to six days of space. Hell, there’s a reason the Chicago Tribune has about nine people covering the Bears.

But this whole sports thing is supposed to be entertaining. This is supposed to be something we do for enjoyment. Yes, for the media it’s a job but these guys aren’t covering Afghanistan or sex abuse scandals or gun violence in Chicago. This is all supposed to be fun. And the 2017 Chicago Bears are not entertaining. They are not enjoyable. They are not fun.

They are a massive fucking bore. And that alone should be enough to get people fired.

Image result for boring gif

The empty seats at Soldier Field Sunday – against the team’s oldest rival, with actual things on the line – were just the beginning. The Lions are coming to town in the thick of a playoff hunt with a fan base that loves traveling south to Chicago and annoying the shit out of me in Rossi’s. What is that building on the lakefront going to sound like when half the seats are silver and blue?

The Bears have the awful Niners at Soldier Field in December. Who is going to that game?

They have the worst organization in the history of pro sports, the Cleveland Browns, coming to Soldier Field on Christmas Eve!! Who is going to THAT game? Oh that’s right, I am! You’ll see me on television. I’ll be the guy in the stands.

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