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By George Ofman
The first thing you think of when mentioning the Bears and Bulls is: BLOW THEM UP!
This is not to suggest recruiting some very shady characters with connections to Osama bin Laden, though the idea of relocating either of these franchises to very mountainous outposts is somewhat alluring. Deconstructing to reconstructing seems to be the hue and cry with our favorite whipping boys of the gridiron and hardwood. (The Cubs could gladly be included in this less-than-cheerful holiday column, but since they're not playing at this moment and still saddled with their own problem child in Milton Bradley, we'll save them for another date).
The paying customers - and those without a ticket who simply pay with time and emotion - have lost patience. The next time you see a coach use two timeouts to whip out a challenge flag it might cost you more than patience. The next time you see an opposing player tie his shoe in the middle of a basketball game while your home team figures out what to do next could force your fingers to punch those dreaded numbers: 911. Find out whether your health insurance policy covers sports related mental breakdowns.
The Bears and Bulls are a mess, creations of managements whose desire is to succeed but whose methods of achieving such are twisted by fatal judgments. One maddening move is followed by another and then, another. You clamor for change but instead are served the same putrid smelling dish you want to send back to the kitchen. And that's the problem: The cook!
You can blame Lovie Smith for the Bears' problems until your blue and orange in the face. Yes, he has to go. But look at the slop on the field. That belongs to Jerry Angelo. You can castigate Vinny Del Negro from now until LeBron James becomes a Bull. And yes, he has to go too, but it's John Paxson who constructed this less-than-average aggregate. And it's the same John Paxson who could not engineer trades for much better players because he fell in love with the mediocre ones.
When teams perform poorly, everyone is to blame. Players aren't given free passes because the men who chose them and coach them made mistakes. Perhaps the only star players receiving some benefit of the doubt are Derrick Rose, who clearly isn't the player he was his rookie season, and Jay Cutler, who deserves every bit of criticism heaped upon him even if he's bereft of quality around him.
The general managers are in charge. They're the ones who are also handsomely compensated to provide the managers with the necessary talent to win.
The Bears do not possess such talent and neither do the Bulls.
So what do you do? Will firing Lovie Smith yet retaining Jerry Angelo solve the Bears' short- and long-term needs? Will dismissing Del Negro suddenly elicit great interest from would-be franchise-savers such as LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and even Joe Johnson? Paxson has yielded his title as GM to Gar Forman but Paxson still has enormous influence in where the Bulls are headed.
Consider that as we demand the heads of the coaches.
And while we're at it, didn't Jim Hendry pay $136 million for Alfonso Soriano and another 30 million for Milton the Martyr?
I rest my case.
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