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The Gilded Hamster Wheel That Is The Chicago Bears

Like a fine watch, the Stockholm Syndrome set in well before Sunday's game.

On Saturday, the Tribune's David Haugh, as usual, took a swipe at the fans.

"If Fox had connected as well with the public as he did his team, perhaps the embattled coach would have encountered more support in his final weeks than the apathetic acceptance of his fate."

Apathy by who? Except everybody. Wrong word. It's patience, fans waiting for Fox's key card to be confiscated.

"Instead, nary a soul outside of loyal players dared to speak out in defense of Fox as his days in Lake Forest dwindled."

Again, who? Who would? This only reinforces that if the Bears knew weeks ago they were going to fire Fox, they should have done it weeks ago. And I wouldn't want any player loyal to Fox on my team.

"By showing players a side of him Chicago seldom saw, Fox restored the Bears locker room with structure and respect."

In front of the comma, huh? Oh, so Fox was a two-faced hypocrite, basically treating the fans, through the media, like shit, while the writers fell for his charms. Which I heard a lot from electronic and print - Fox is actually a nice guy. The beat boys didn't even have the guts to ask him about his Bizarro World play calls in the final game. After the comma, wrong, the roster turned over in Fox's years, as they do with all NFL teams. They simply got rid of some of the "cancers." These guys always operate under the assumption it's the same team year-to-year.

Haugh: " . . . an interloper who collected big checks from the Bears but produced little in the way of results. It would be fitting if Fox could throw a proverbial red flag to challenge such an unflattering description of his Bears tenure."

Again, no. His tears weren't nearly drowned and the ice in his single malt not even melted when the Bears called just hours after Elway's posse ran him out of Denver. The Bears practically hired him on the phone, a name, a wise old owl they could market. Tom Coughlin was winning in New York and Tom Landry was dead. Otherwise . . .

Then, in today's firing story, the Trib's Rich Campbell should be docked for this lede: "The results-based business of the NFL caught up to John Fox when the Bears relieved the head coach of his duties Monday." Emphasis mine. How much money does Campbell make? Was he partying with Mark Giangreco last night?

Four grafs later in "Fox's" statement: "Today is the tough part of our results-based business but I wish the Bears organization the best for years to come."

Also: "General manager Ryan Pace will immediately begin the upcoming coaching search, guided by his deep-rooted belief in the importance of quality quarterback play."

Really? That's the entire nature of the whole effing league, and how do we know what Pace believes in, besides the desperation of gutting drafting depth to throw a dart at a questionable larger-than-average man on campus? How do you know Pace believes in that? Did he tell you that? If he did, and he didn't, tell us what he told you. Why didn't he draft a quarterback for two years? (McCaskey cheesparing has a lot to do with that, Bears fans.) Then ask him why, by extension, wouldn't he get players for the quality quarterback to throw to?

Not one to procrastinate, Campbell has a jump on 2018 propaganda: "Trubisky started 12 games as a rookie and steadily improved, flashing the potential to develop into an accurate, athletic pocket-passer." He did? Not really, for some reasons not all attributable to young Mitch.

Fox joins the same fraternity as Abe Gibron and Jim Dooley, and even 1969, a season we've been able to forget up until now, rears its ugly head once more. It's obvious our local hacks have no idea the depth of ineptitude we're dealing with in Fox.

I remember 1969 and the Bears' 1-13 that year was true agony. 2017 was 16 games, 1969 only 14. Whew. My uncle screamed at the ineptitude of his beloved Bears, and I was too green to know how badly his bets were going. It just was not good, at all.

Head Coach Dooley, a decent receiver in the 1950s, was a lifelong Bear. Washed out in 1962, he coached the receivers and was then named defensive coordinator in 1966 after Halas jettisoned George Allen for arguing with him. By 1969, Allen was hauling the Rams and then the Redskins into the new AFL-NFL merged reality. Dooley was one of George Halas's "guys" who survived two years after '69.

Gale Sayers made a truly heroic comeback from two devastating knee injuries, rushing for more than 1,000 yards, although it was clear that he had lost a good amount of his truly world-class speed and quickness. Dick Butkus was still Dick Butkus, his knees killing him, shoulders sore, but it was hard to see any falloff.

Brian Piccolo started suffering on the field of the cancer that eventually killed him and played in only nine games. Then, as now, the Bears didn't have a quarterback, with Jack Concannon and Bobby Douglass, who had a rocket arm but could and did overthrow O'Hare from Wrigley Field, sharing the load. So Douglass rushed for 408 yards that year, second on the team. It was a humorous distraction, what's Bobby going to do now? His receivers talked about how hard it was to catch his bullets, and how it hurt when they did.

It boiled down to "Yeah, we're losing a lot of games, but at least these teams know they played the Bears." That's code for beating people up at a time when the game was tougher - and dirtier - than it is now.

The Bears had a truly awful draft in 1969, with Ron Pearson sticking out to me as the only one who did anything, although don't ask me what.

But in 1970's college meat market, they pulled perhaps what Ryan Pace was channeling last April, Bears tradition and all.

The one 1969 win was a 38-7 drubbing of the truly awful Pittsburgh Steelers. But that win would have catastrophic ramifications for the Bears and historical impact on the league as we know it today.

It "dropped" the Bears into a tie for the first pick in the 1970 draft. Then, quaint as it was, the Bears, typically, lost the coin toss to pick first to: the Pittsburgh Steelers. They took Terry Bradshaw, setting the Steelers on a path of glory the Bears haven't seen since The Marshall Plan.

To compound the problem - and don't discount the idea Halas didn't want to pay second-round money when the salary wars were heating up - The Monsters traded their picks in both the first and second rounds!

They picked up has-beens Lee Roy Caffey, Elijah Pitts and Bob Hyland from Green Bay (!) in the first round for what became Mike McCoy, who was a slab of granite for the Packers and Raiders for years to come. In the second round, they got Craig Baynham and Phil Clark from Dallas for second-round pick, which the Cowboys used to draft Bob Asher.

First round, the Bears could have had Bobby Anderson, Bruce Taylor, Jack Reynolds, Duane Thomas or Raymond Chester. Second round, they could have had Jim Mandich or Richard Caster. All told, they could have had Doug Sutherland, Charlie Waters, Gerald Irons, Manny Sistrunk, Billy Newsome, Pat Toomay, Jake Scott, Stu Voight or Tom Curtis. Minnesota, Miami and Pittsburgh were polishing or crafting their dynasties. The Bears were entering their own dark decade: The 1970s.

The Steelers? They drafted Bradshaw, Ron Shanklin, Mel Blount, John Staggers and others.

The Bears, besides picking nobodies, did trade Richie Petitbon to the Rams and drafted Ross Brupbacher, a very capable linebacker (12 interceptions) who spent three years in Chicago, jumped to the World Football League and won a title in Birmingham, and came back to the Bears for one more great season, leading the league with seven INTs. Pursuit of a law degree and a knee injury drove him out of football.

Chicago's Monsters (a nickname they stole from the old University of Chicago Alonzo Stagg teams) were Foxesque for years, mere debris, going 34-63 up to the cusp of disco, when Walter Payton, the most valuable football player of all time, escorted the Bears through what seemed like six tiebreakers and into the 1977 playoffs, where they were murdered 37-7 by the eventual Super Bowl winner Cowboys.

To those of you of a certain age, those still alive, the Chicago Bears' history is a gilded hamster wheel. Running years and decades and going nowhere. The scenery is the same, a train ride in a Twilight Zone toy town.

The only time I ever saw the Bears succeed was when they brought in a football guy and put him in charge. Jim Finks, who had already built those great Vikings team. He built the 1985 Bears and also taught Mugs Halas himself how to do it.

Somehow, I don't see the Bears doing that in the next few weeks. Actually, if they had any guts, they'd tamper, play the sympathy card, lose a fourth-round pick and $500,000, and get a real football guy. Yeah, right. Although Papa George would, and probably did, do it.

So for all you hack sportswriters out there, until you know what you're dealing with beyond the free shrimp cocktail, lukewarm sliders and cheese cubes, I ain't listenin'. I convulse at the mere thought of your paychecks.

I've haven't made a New Year's resolution in years, and I've never kept one. But for 2018, it's gonna be nothing but Beachwood Sports and the Radio Hour, where you learn as much in 57-107 minutes as you ever need, no bullshit. We laugh with Chief and the Coach. Not at them.

Hot Tip
The 1967 Ice Bowl - a well-done piece.

The family had just been uprooted and set down in Northeastern Wisconsin. The game was our first real memory of the place.

I remember how achingly cold that day was, where you needed oil heaters to keep the crankcase warm, plastic on the windows and don't go outside for long.

I asked my dad if they were really going to play. He said "looks like it." We all just shook our heads, and still do.

"These people are crazy!"


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