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A Salaam Story
On April 22nd 1995, the day Rashaan Salaam was drafted by the Chicago Bears, I was playing Little League baseball in Kearny, New Jersey. For younger readers, the draft did not used to be a prime time affair. It was a two-day, all weekend long, NFL fanatic binge experience the likes of which the league has never duplicated. It was amazing.
There were four Bears fans in Kearny. Me. Anthony Aiello. Phil Caputo. John Cali. Yes, I grew up in a place that had a few Italians. It’s also the town where about 75% of The Sopranos was shot. (My mother did the real estate deal with HBO for the property that became Satriale’s.) Three of the four of us were at a place called Gunnell Oval – a large park area with six baseball fields – when Salaam became a Bear.
You know that scene in That Thing You Do! where the members of The Oneders run through the streets of town at the shear excitement of hearing their track on the radio? That’s what the Salaam pick was like in Kearny. We thought, none of us older than 17 at the time, this pick was going to change the franchise. We thought a Super Bowl was near.
It didn’t come to pass but I like to think I’m still that 13 year-old kid down the Oval, endlessly believing greatness is just one draft pick away.
Rashaan Salaam died of an apparent suicide at the age of forty-two. Our love goes out to his family and all the people in his life. Too many young men who’ve played this game we love have left the world too soon.
The Fangio Rumor
Mike Mulligan, not known to make shit up, shocked many Bears fans with a bit of a bombshell late Tuesday: