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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:
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is rumored to be winding down his time with the team as part of a massive overhaul anticipated at the end of the season. It sounds like a tall tale when you consider the Bears’ problem has been a lack of continuity because of injury and suspension, along with a number of less-than-stellar game plans on offense.
Most observers expect changes at quarterback, and Dowell Loggains has appeared on shaky ground virtually since the day he was promoted to offensive coordinator. The idea that Fox is displeased with Fangio or the coordinator is unhappy in his job sounds absurd but has been the subject of speculation for over a month.
Both Fox and Fangio vehemently denied this report. Fangio went all-in on Mulligan, well-described in this Sun-Times piece by Mark Potash:
…it’s no surprise that while both Fox and Fangio denied a Tribune report that Fangio could be out as defensive coordinator after this season because of philosophical differences between the two, Fangio’s more aggressive denial and charge of “irresponsible reporting” by Tribune contributing columnist and WSCR-AM host Mike Mulligan resonated the most Wednesday.
“It gives you guys a bad name,” Fangio told reporters during his weekly press conference. “He’s one of your colleagues, and irresponsible reporting doesn’t shine well for all of you, and that’s too bad because … I enjoy talking to you guys.”
Reporting on the Bears in the Pace era has been awful. Why? Everybody is desperate for the scoop. Few seem desperate for the facts.
Thoughts With the Hoge Family
I have narrowed my exposure to Bears beat writing over the last few years and I’m essentially down to the three people. One of those people is Adam Hoge, doing tremendous work at WGN. He wrote a very personal Facebook post Tuesday that I don’t feel right posting in this space. Please read it by CLICKING HERE.
Nobody is rooting harder for the entirety of the Hoge family.
- Our sponsor, Art of Men, now has members engaged in community projects in forty of the fifty states – thanks in part to a trailer running in movie theaters nationwide. Check out the trailer HERE and sign-up yourself. People need you, even if you don’t know it,
- Very interesting to now go back and read scouting reports on Matt Barkley prior to his draft selection. This one from Bleacher Report seems to have the most in-depth analysis. The knock on Barkley? Arm strength. (Something ex-scout Greg Gabriel felt need to point out while Barkley was tossing darts in a storm last Sunday.) The positives stand out, however. Personality. Leadership. Polish.
- If you’ve always wanted to go to a Bears v. Packers game, StubHub has midfield seats (upstairs) for $100 and less. And by next week at this time, those tickets could drop another 20 or 30 bucks.
- It is fine for Brad Biggs to not believe Matt Barkley should be in the conversation as QB for Bears. But two things about his mailbag. (1) The Titans were NOT in a prevent defense the entire fourth quarter and basic film study would show him that. (2) He drastically undersells Barkley’s performance in the storm.