On Greatness, Desire, Tennis, and Trubisky

| July 23rd, 2018

We’re almost there, guys.

The Chicago Bears have started training camp, and the first preseason game follows in a few weeks! It’s great news for all of us at DBB, considering the most exciting thing that’s happened in the Bears’ universe over the last two months is Jay Cutler killing it on his wife’s new reality show.

Data and Andrew have done a fantastic job breaking down players, stats, and expectations for the 2018 season, and frankly my attention has been focused on other sports. And since at the exact moment of writing this article we’re still left with not much more than anticipation for the upcoming season, I’m going to spend a little bit of time reflecting on my other favorite sport: tennis.

Right now I imagine some of you would prefer I’d just write about politics again, but fear not, this is still DBB, and I promise to work the Bears in…eventually! Just indulge me for a bit. It’s summer, the days are long, and we still have time to meander.

While I fell in love with football as a small kid, I didn’t come to follow tennis until much later. It was 2008, and I was sick at home in the middle of a boring September afternoon, flipping through the channels. I came across the US Open. I figured I’d give it a try.

Tennis isn’t the most intuitive of sports, so I spent the first few hours bemused as to how a score could possibly go from 15 to 30 to 40 to game over, and just how many games do they have to play, anyways, and also what the fuck is a “let”?

By the end of that week I figured out the answer to all those questions, and was completely infatuated. Not only with the game, but with the eventual winners of that year’s tournament: Serena Williams and Roger Federer.

Ten years later, I’m still just as infatuated with tennis, and mesmerized by the undisputed greatness of those two players. In fact, when I initially pitched this idea to Jeff, both were still in the mix in Wimbledon and looking more and more like the favorites to win. That result would’ve undoubtedly helped me wrap a neat little bow around this column, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Federer lost in incredibly dramatic fashion to Kevin Anderson in the quarterfinals, and Serena Williams, who looked sharper in every round of the tournament, came out flat and maybe a little too eager to win her 24th major, falling in straight sets to Angelique Kerber in the final.

But really it doesn’t matter that they lost. It stings I’m sure, like it does when any competitor tastes defeat, but it doesn’t change much for either player. They both remain hungry, eager, and determined to keep adding to their legacies, not because they have anything left to prove, but because long after they’ve reached the point where they could retire and go down in the record books as the two greatest players of all time, all they want to do is win more.

Both Federer and Williams are in their late 30s. They each have families, multiple business ventures, and hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank. As of now Roger has 20 grand slam titles, while Serena sits at 23.

In 2016, Roger Federer found himself similarly and unceremoniously ousted in the semifinals of Wimbledon by Milos Raonic. Near the end of that match, Federer fell awkwardly to his knees. He’d been battling injuries all season, and after walking off Centre Court that night he ended up not playing another match the rest of the season. He was in his mid-30s, and although he had remained competitive the last few years, he hadn’t actually won a major title since 2012. Many were fearing that we were witnessing the beginning of the end of Federer’s career.

He returned after six months off to the 2017 Australian Open, ranked 18 in the world, and unsure about what to expect in his first tournament back. He ended up winning the title, and has gone on to win 3 of the last 7 grand slams.

Not to be outdone, Serena Williams also won the 2017 Australian Open while she was 8 weeks pregnant with her first child. After a long maternity break, made longer by a complicated delivery that proved almost fatal, she started playing professional tennis again just six months after giving birth to her daughter, and in her 4th tournament back, ended up reaching the finals of a grand slam.

Even if you don’t give a shit about tennis, that should impress the hell out of you. The fire and the drive that each of that these two legends have is exceedingly rare, and can’t be taught.

Philippe Dehaes, coach of the up-and-coming Russian tennis player Daria Kasatkina commented on Serena’s unparalleled drive in an interview with the New York Times during the French Open earlier this year.

“Serena has great tennis talent, but above all she has this fire. And when I watch the other young players coming up now, I just don’t see it. It’s the whole package with Serena: the confidence, the desire to win or more refusing to lose as if losing were an illness. When I see Serena winning I am angry in a way. I am happy to see her win of course because I have a lot of respect for her, but I’m angry when I think of the others. I say, ‘Wake up, girls. Serena is nearly 37 years old. What does it take for you to wake up?’”

The thing is most players will never “wake up” in the way that Serena or Federer have. That’s not to say they don’t have drive or ambition, or that they won’t work hard to improve their games and win titles. It’s that few people are born with that internalized desire to be truly great at something, and even fewer can keep that flame burning once they’ve achieved enough that the rest of the world recognizes their greatness. Serena and Federer aren’t like regular people in that way. If they were, they’d both be retired by now, off sipping Mai Thais on their own private islands. Their greatness keeps them going.

So – to all five of you who have actually stuck around long enough to find out – what exactly does this tennis-centered interlude have to do with the Chicago Bears?

Mitch Trubisky, that’s what.

Oh my God, Emily! Are you actually comparing a second-year quarterback with a mediocre rookie season under his belt to the two greatest tennis players of all time? How drunk are you?

I mean, I’ve got a summer’s buzz on, but I really don’t think that’s any of your business…

More importantly, no, I’m not trying to say that Trubisky is obviously on his way to becoming one of the greatest champions of all time. What I’m saying is that there is a reason Chicago, and more recently, the rest of the national media is so high on this kid; why his is the 6th highest selling jersey in the NFL, even though he went 4-8 last year with a passer-rating of 77.5.

It’s not just his physical skills, although he undoubtedly is a gifted athlete. When the Bears traded for Jay Cutler in 2009, fans were seduced by that canon of an arm. With Trubisky it’s clear that fans and teammates alike are inspired by his intensity and his drive. Article after article has been written on Trubisky’s obsession with improving himself, establishing himself as a leader, positing him as someone who likes the pressure, likes the challenge, and is ready to prove everyone who doubted the Bears picking him at #2 wrong.

His drive doesn’t just come from wanting to prove others wrong, though. Like Serena, like Federer, and like everyone else who is or was ever truly great at something, it’s a fire that’s been burning within him for quite some time. Per his recent interview with Bleacher Report:

“People have been telling me I have to prove myself this year. What do I have to prove? I’ve been trying to prove myself since I picked up this brown ball at the age of 7. Who are you to tell me I have to prove myself this year? I’ve been trying to prove to myself every single day of my life that I’m good enough to be at this level, that I’m worthy to be playing this game.”

Look I have no idea what the trajectory of Trubisky’s career is going to look like. I can’t say that he won’t turn out to be a flop, or an asshole, or that even if he does work his tail off, he won’t just be a guy who does OK, but never really lives up to the initial hype that’s been placed on him. But I keep going back to a fan question on a Hoge & Jahns podcast shortly before free agency this year which was, “What evidence do we have that Mitch Trubisky *won’t* be great?”

Like both Adams, I can’t think of anything. It doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It just means that so far, Trubisky has given us a lot to be excited about, and I for one, hope he proves the fans right. More than that, I hope he proves himself right.

So I’m looking forward to September. Looking forward to watching two tennis greats continue to battle under the bright lights of Arthur Ashe, and to watching a young kid carry the hopes of a city on his shoulders between the lines of Soldier Field.

Tagged: , ,

  • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

    Solid Monday morning read. (Golf clap).

  • leftcoastdave
    • Wow. Maybe be a holy roller does pay off. The Lord sent a bug to bite him so he wouldn’t have to suffer on the Bears.

      Instead , he went to the perfect team with a great Oline, OC, and HOF weapons

      No doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t be a HOFer if he ended up on the Bears.

      • leftcoastdave

        The Lord protects those who trust in His word.

    • KentuckyBearsFan

      That story is completely ridiculous. Considering the QB history of the Bears.

  • BenderMcLugh

    Good stuff, Emily. And you’re right, it’s none of our damn business what you’ve been drinkin…..

  • willbest

    I am a Cutler appreciator, and I would have liked to see him in a broadcast booth, but it never crossed my mind to watch whatever he is doing now with his wife

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      The woman I am seeing likes those crappy shows and forced me to watch it the other weekend, along with a couple other reality shows. Needless to say I don’t see this relationship going far if that continues. However the only part of his wifes show that was any good was Jay.

      • CanadaBear

        A likely story! Word on the street is you watch all of those “Housewives” shows!

        • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

          You know me too well.

        • AlbertInTucson

          Because I enjoy the old, original, LAW & ORDERs that WE TV shows, I am subjected to promos for shows like, BRIDEZILLAS, MAMA JUNE: FROM NOT TO HOT and REALITY STARS MARRIAGE BOOT CAMP.

          The promos ALONE are enough to make one think “Who watches THIS crap?”

          Unattractive people with repellent personalities.

          Isn’t that what C-SPAN is for?


          • SC Dave

            Or Jerry Springer

          • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

            Funny thing, I dated a girl that went on the Jerry Springer show. I forget what the topic of the show was. You would have never guessed she would have gone on it, soft spoken and somewhat shy when I met her. Evidently she was a bit of a wild one years ago.

          • When you boned her did she scream “Jerry Jerry!”

          • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

            That would have been an improvement. Besides give the best head I have ever had she was pretty much a dead fish in bed.

          • CanadaBear

            We obviously aren’t their demographic. I’m stunned by all those show. If they were on 24/7 I’d pay money not to see them.

      • Let us know when Webb Nation makes a cameo

        • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

          I can see it now. Jay hires him as a bodyguard, then Jay gets blindsided and killed.

          • SC Dave

            Now THERE is a plot line!

    • I wonder why he’s not in the booth this year. Cuz he renigged on the gig last yr?

      If so, he may have cost himself a cushy good paying job.

      Look at Aikmen. He’s been doing it for like 20 yrs now?

  • KentuckyBearsFan

    I can’t play tennis. I think I tried maybe 3 times and the mechanics just made no sense to me.

    I miss the Steffi Graf days though.

    Men’s tennis got ruined by the tech of the rackets.

    • Short skirts, in shape tanned girls groaning for hours, what’s not too like!?

      I guess volleyball is the same but they’re usually skinny gigantors

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        Add in the porn moaning most from some of them and what more can you ask for.

    • AlbertInTucson

      Never played much tennis.

      • Never appealed much to me.
        Basketball was the probably the funnest sport I played because it was pretty convenient. Just hit the courts, lotta times don’t even need a ball, and keep playing until your pick-up team loses.

        Organized football vs street football were totally different for obvious reasons. The former felt a lot like a job, and my coaches sucked all the fun out of it (I loved my Pop Warner coach though. He made it fun)

        Baseball was cool, but if you couldn’t round up a lot of friends, couldn’t play it at the park.
        Organized baseball I may have liked more than organized football, now that I think of it.

        The parents always seemed more involved in organized baseball (for better or worse), and felt more like a family affair than the other sports.

        Baseball also was rather laid back compared to the other sports, but it was still competitive.

        • AlbertInTucson


          Even when I had game, I had no game.

          • It was like a perfect storm for me. I started playing Bball right when Jordan was a god, and the Bulls went on that run.

            I pretty much turned my close friends into Bulls fans, and that ain’t easy in Laker town.

          • KentuckyBearsFan

            I used to be a half court wizard.

            But … full court I didn’t have the endurance to make a shot.

            Back in college there was a half court right outside my dorm. What we considered a 3-pointer was more than an NBA 3. Making a shot around the manhole cover. I was good at that shot. And I had a midcourt game.

            And I could steal the ball like a son of a bitch.

        • CanadaBear

          Baseball was pretty easy to play with just a few guys. Half the field was OOB and each team pitched to themselves. Grounders were outs, etc.

          • Hmm. Never played it that way. Guess we were less creative with it.
            It was also hard to get a field where I grew up.
            We could go in lots, but it was never the same (and kinda dangerous. Rebar sticking out, broken beer bottles, used needles…)

          • KentuckyBearsFan

            I think I tried to swing a bat once. That and a pitch made no sense to me either.

            Not as bad as tennis. I think I could have learned to field grounders like a shortstop….but when in junior high I had some bad tendinitis. And swinging the bat while avoiding the ball hitting my head would not have been instinctive.

      • CanadaBear

        I tried when I was a kid but my sister used to beat me like a drum. At some point it wasn’t much fun.

  • KentuckyBearsFan

    I think the tennis scoring system is vaguely based on Roman numerals.

  • Juan Stone

    Dear Emily….

    After reading your piece I was somehow reminded of the time the Crowd booed “The Clash” off the stage as we waited for “AC~DC” to play at the Rosemont Horizon back in the day. Oh how times have a changed. He he.

    Go Bears!

    • KentuckyBearsFan

      “London Calling”

  • Good lil read opening camp. The NFL seems like a big circle jerk of nepotism, but when you think of it, a lot of new coaches only really get ONE shot, so it makes sense that they would be conservative and only hire ppl they know well.

    Enter, Nagy…

    “Nagy knocked on Helfrich’s door. We waited. I couldn’t help but think how downright weird this whole thing is. Weird in a football-test-tube/experimental way, with the potential of the next wave of the trendy Run Pass Option system. And also weird in how much Nagy—who might get only one chance at this dream job—trusts a man he never worked with before and just met in January. In football, coaches invariably hire their friends, or men they worked with for years. Nagy, for the biggest job on his staff, hired a man he didn’t know, who never coached in the NFL, who was on zero NFL radar screens.”


    And b4 you give ButtonShoes and other “pessimists” too hard of a time, just remember that the Bears have only had ONE PB QB in the last 100 yrs, and that Pace’s record is 19-45…so in reality, we’re probably the Homers…but I suppose it beats being Frank Grimes…

  • AlbertInTucson
    • Seems like the NFL should be the last job a person who suffers from anxiety, and that the Factory of Sadness would be worst of said NFL.

      Also, is it just me, or do more ppl have “anxiety attacks” ?

      Good thing weed is becoming legal in most states…

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        That’s my new reason for smoking, I have “anxiety”

        • CanadaBear

          Who needs a reason? Have you ever tried live resin? I hit the dab bar once in a while and that stuff gives a great buzz. NTM the woman running the rig is a cutie (even if she is 40 years younger and foot taller!!!!!!!!!

      • John F

        Legal weed would have made it much easier to deal with being a Bears in the last 25 years …………

        • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

          too good for the illegal stuff….

      • AlbertInTucson

        TV docs, Oz and Gupta, endorse cannibus as having medical value with no empirical evidence as a “Gateway Drug” and a better alternative for chronic pain than opioids.

    • SC Dave

      Good luck, Josh. Seems like he is genuinely trying… of course, he’s got a ton of incentive now.

  • Good article, Emily (and I don’t think I have watched a tennis match since Agasi had hair)

    So Trubisky is the bizarro Cutler “I CAAAAAAARREEE”

    Pops in nicotene gum, smiles for cameras…

    • SC Dave

      I only paid attention when Connors, McEnroe, and Borg were going at it.

      • I actually did watch those. I stopped watching shortly after Sampras took over.

        Gotta love McEnroe, the McMahon of tennis players

  • AlbertInTucson

    And now, a word from our sponsor…

    On Optimism, I am not so very keen,

    it’s an area into which I rarely delve.

    But, 2 season ago the Jags were 3 and 13,

    and the Rams were just 4 and 12.


  • “What evidence do we have that Mitch Trubisky *won’t* be great?” – E

    Cmp %
    —59%——7TDs-7Ints—–SK%8.6—QB rate 77.5
    —59%——9Tds-5Ints—–SK.%8.7—QB rate 88.5

    One of these is Trubisky, the other is rookie Cutler

    • catfish44

      no evidence either way. just have to wait and see.

    • Malice Halice

      To Mitchell defense he had nobody playing wideout, as well as a HC who’s only used to playin wit established QB’s n a OC who should’ve never been OC in the first place. Also, making most of his passes on 3rd n long against blitzes galore. Mitchell made a couple fuck-ups but last year but dem numbers ain’t showing the true testament.

      • Nobody loathed Albino Lovie more than me (I nicknamed him that the first day he was hired).

        So yes, Trub’s * is Fox.
        However, in 5 games, Cutler had 2 more TDs, and 2 less INTs than Trubisky in their respective rook campaigns – while their comp and sack % were nearly identical.

        Just some perspective going forward.

        • Malice Halice

          DillyDilly! Numbers don’t lie, but Mitchell has credible excuses for his production last year. This year, ain’t no excuse for a single unit.

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      Guess which 2 time SB winning QB these rookie stats belong to.

      —48.2%——6TDs-9Ints—–SK%6.2—QB rate 55.4

    • Johnnywad

      What a shitty comp. Culter’s rookie season has exactly zero bearing on Trubisky’s potential.
      Cutler was a four year college starter and played his rookie season for Mike Shanahan and WITH Javon Walker and young Brandon Marshall.
      Talk about Apples and Oranges.

      • There is no other rookie who only had 8 games as a college starter.
        And Cutler was our last true QB, so the C on their helmets is what links them

        • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

          uh, oddly Cutlers numbers in limited games in 2006 ranked as some of the highest since the 70’s.
          2007 saw him improve and 2008 saw him in a pro bowl.
          Trubisky, has a shot to be productive. Just give him a line, some weapons and make teams punt once in a while and you’ll make the playoffs.

    • SC Dave

      Don’t start with facts yet. The fucking season has not started yet!

    • Irish Sweetness

      ’84-’87. Won 100% of the games he started at QB.

      His middle name rhymes with ‘Lobert’, and his last name rhymes with BacBahon.


  • Malice Halice

    Hey fellas! Has my 3 years of tenure on DBB good enough to join y’all FF? I’m in 1 league this year and would love to join y’all! What’s the fee?

    • Yeah, first come first serve.
      No fees or anything. Just major trash talking and bragging rights (I’m the current Champ cuz I’m badass!)

      Small run down of it.

      10-12 team (depending on how many join)
      All DBB regs
      ESPN $200 Auction draft (again, no REAL mula)
      2 QB
      Usually start it up during the 3rd PS game (does the HOF game skew Bears schedule?)

      When I get close to starting it up (Late August), I’ll start making announcements.

      If you haven’t done auction drafts b4, they’re fun as fuck. Only drawback in our league is that Bear players prices go UP.

      ESPN FF has “mock options” you can practice on if you haven’t done them before.

  • AlbertInTucson

    The Bears had a good, steady defense under Fox/Fangio.”

    Unfortunately, they coupled it with a bad, unsteady offense.

    • CanadaBear

      And shitty ST’s.

      • AlbertInTucson

        And in this case, 2 out of 3 IS bad.

  • BerwynBomber

    Federer belongs right up there with Ali, Jordan, Ruth, etc. He’s that great of an athlete. His 2017 AO championship is one of the most remarkable athletic achievements I have witnessed in my lifetime, and the fact that he has never retired from a single match in his entire career speaks volumes to his old-school toughness.

    The funny thing is that his slam totals will most likely be surpassed by Nadal but the latter will have never faced the depth and variety of competition that Federer has.

    But wait. Comparing Trubisky to Fed? Hah! I like Biscuit too. And I am excited to see what Nagy can do, and thought Pace had an excellent free agency and a very solid draft.

    But a Bears QB?

    At this point I would be near ecstatic if Bisky’s tennis comp works out to be Tomas Berdych or even Kei Nishikori.

    P.S. Really need to catch up on the camp stories. Been out of the loop. #Bears

    • Emily

      Hahaha. Yeah… It’s more a mindset than anything else that got me thinking about Trubisky in comparison to Fed/Serena. I actually thought David Ferrer would be a potentially good comparison because the guy just grinds away, but I’m pretty sure 99% of readers would have no idea who I was talking about.

      It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the final grand slams are tallied. I think Fed is up 3 on Nadal right now, but Rafa is pretty much guaranteed a French Open title every year, so it’ll be close for sure. I’m interested to see if Djokovic can keep his momentum going, and if Murray can get back to any semblance of his former self.

      Also you gotta figure a young guy will break through at some point, right? (Even though everyone’s been saying that for the past 5 years….)

    • SC Dave

      No, fuck that. Rod Laver or bust!

      • AlbertInTucson

        The Rocket!

    • SC Dave

      Do you really think Federer faced better competition than Borg?

      Edit: Well ok, I read it wrong. Borg and Wilander did not cross over, so…

      • Emily

        *Clears throat* As someone who loves that surly Scot Murray, I’ve got to defend his honor here, Dave. He’s got three majors. Two Wimbledon titles, one US Open. Not to mention two singles gold medals, the first of which he absolutely destroyed Federer in earning 😉

        Rod Laver is great, though. It’s always useless comparing between generations.

    • Irish Sweetness


      I don’t get it, Ber, you think Ali was Jordan-level? He was beaten 5 times. He wasn’t even better than a one-eyed Joe Frazier.

      He called himselfThe Greatest. Nobody else did.

      • KentuckyBearsFan

        Well he had his young career derailed.

        Most people don’t know this, but he actually made more money speaking than from boxing.

        • AlbertInTucson

          Didn’t a lot of his money go to Elijah Mohammed and the Nation Of Islam?

          • KentuckyBearsFan

            No idea.

            He also had a rep of being a lousy husband.

            But as a heavyweight, I never thought twice about him being the greatest.

          • AlbertInTucson

            Pretty sure The Nation Of Islam kept him boxing longer than he should have because he was cash cow for them.

          • KentuckyBearsFan

            I can understand that. And Ali suffers from Parkinson’s.

            The real tragedy from my reading of Alex Haley’s book was Malcolm X. When he wanted to leave, he got killed.

            There’s a short bit about Ali in the book. After winning a fight, Ali and I think his brother were eating ice cream.

          • Irish Sweetness

            Thinking twice would change your mind, man. Ali got whupped time and again. The Greatest don’t get beat that much if at all. No?

        • Irish Sweetness

          Derailed by himself and only himself.

          Foreman walked away too … ’77-’87, came back and was champion of the world at 46.

          That’s amazing.

      • Whose the greatest for you – Rocky Marciano?

        • AlbertInTucson

          Marciano was the smartest. He beat everybody there was to beat and walked away.

          But I think Ali is the greatest heavyweight, ever.

          I never saw another heavyweight who could move like that.

          He just “stayed too long at the fair”.

          So did Willie Mays.

          • Jack Johnson also usu comes up in the greatest debate. 100 fights. That’s a shitload, and I can’t imagine the pscychological pressure he was under…

            “The outcome of the fight [him beating the white James Jeffries] triggered race riots that evening—the Fourth of July—all across the United States. Johnson’s victory over Jeffries had dashed white dreams of finding a “great white hope” to defeat him. Many whites felt humiliated by the defeat of Jeffries.[5]…

            Race riots erupted in New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, Little Rock and Houston. In all, riotsoccurred in more than 25 states and 50 cities. At least twenty people were killed across the US from the riots,[35] and hundreds more were injured – Wiki

          • Irish Sweetness

            Let’s pick one boxer. How was he greater than Joe Frazier?

            Frazier wins one. Controversial second fight. Then in the third, Ali can’t stand up after the 14th, close to death, but Frazier’s corner throws in the towel when he could have come out. How can anyone say Ali is greater at that point?

        • Irish Sweetness

          HW? For me, Big George. But that starts arguments. I’d like to see Ali v Foreman in a normal venue, at a normal temperature. Ali couldn’t knock Frazier down in 3 fights. George knocked Frazier over 5 times before knocking him out in the second round of their bout. If Frazier and Ali are equal – and they were about as equal as you can be – and then George rag-dolls Frazier ….

          Boxer? I suppose you have to go with either Floyd Money or Marciano.
          If ya don’t gets beaten ….

          • CanadaBear

            Did you ever see George’s exhibition where he fought 5 tomato cans in one appearance? Fucking Pathetic! Greatest my ass!

  • AlbertInTucson

    How many series do you play Trubisky in the HOF game.

    • Depends

      I know the “traditional” route is to play the starters only 1 series in the first PS game, but Trub is young in a whole new O.

      So I would give him like 15-20 plays.

      So for instance, if they go 3-and-out, then they play like 2 more series.

      If their first drive is a sharp 15play march down the field topped off by a TD, then maybe think about sitting Trub.

      I think the big part is to end on a high-note to build confidence and momentum

    • Irish Sweetness

      I think two passing touchdowns is enough, Al.

      One to White, and one to A-Rob?

  • Irish Sweetness


    Is there a more selfish sport on Earth?

    Even pro-golfers have a caddy.

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