Football

The Vault: Chicago vs Washington, 2001

Welcome back to THE VAULT, the place where I wax nostalgic over players that eventually let us all down in one way or another (save for Peanut Tillman, he could never let me down). The overarching theme of these so far has been “remember this time the Bears sucked?”, so today I’ll highlight a win from a Bears team that had a strikingly similar vibe to the team that the field in 2018. Seriously, look at the 2001 and 2018 Bears side by side. They each had:

-Dalton-Line level quarterback play given their respective eras
-A young defense that just absolutely wrecks shit
-An inability to sweep the Packers
-Offensive players who were useless in fantasy football
-A young, potentially dominant middle linebacker
-A free safety known for defensive touchdowns
-Beaten in the playoffs at home by the Eagles

The 2001 Bears were the first squad that really gave me hope. It was destiny: the back-to-back Mike Brown overtime walk-off pick sixes were only two of the five comeback wins that season. Jerry Azumah was about to be Devin Hester before Devin Hester was a thing, and Anthony Thomas ran for over 1100 yards, which looks like a typo but I swear is accurate. Looking at the Bears offense in 2001 is awful, but we’re two weeks into 2019 and I don’t want to watch current game tape because it’s SO SO SO BAD, so not much has changed.

A lot of the 2001 team is etched into my memory. I won an award in 2016 that the Bears sponsored, so when I won they asked me who my favorite Bear of all time was. Out of the 16 teachers that won, there were three players listed: Brian Urlacher, Walter Payton, and Mike Brown. Guess which one I picked. I really do believe Mike Brown could’ve been Ed Reed if he stayed healthy, because he was always around the ball. Book it: the Bears win Super Bowl XLI if Mike Brown doesn’t get hurt in the Arizona comeback game and Daniel Manning isn’t put back there and toasted to a crisp by Peyton Manning. Tony Parrish used to lay motherfuckers out, and Rosevelt Colvin looked like an all-time great pass rushing LB. It was literally impossible to run up the middle on this defense, sporting 700 lbs of combined BEEF between Keith Traylor and Ted Washington. Just looking at the defense lined up on Youtube today looks downright goofy with all that space those two managed to occupy. It’s also weird to see the 4-3 look so good, since the NFL seemed to make the switch wholesale to 3-4 being the dominant defensive front a few years after this season.

This shit-ass offense managed to beat Washington in 2001, but it took Brian Urlacher’s first ever offensive touchdown on a pass from the illustrious Brad Maynard on a fake field goal to push the Bears to a win. The box score tells you all you need to know about this game:

Jim Miller: 13/26, 98 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT- 59.3 QB rating
Brad fuckin Maynard: 1/1, 27 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT- 158.3 QB rating

Brian Urlacher was the second leading receiver for the Bears in this game, but the defense managed to sack Tony Banks six times and force two fumbles. This was the second of four straight wins for the 2001 Bears, a streak that took them straight into the woodchipper against the Eagles in the playoffs as demolition crews sat outside Soldier Field to begin renovations. I heard totally unfounded rumors years later that the Bears were paid to throw the game so construction could start (I’m pretty sure the dude who told me that was wearing a Korn shirt so take that shit with an entire shaker of salt), but if there’s anything that could undermine a team as fated for the Lombardi Trophy as the 2001 Bears were, it would be Chicago political graft.

To end on a positive note: two weeks after this game the Bears played the Jaguars, and Keith Traylor returned an interception 67 yards. No politician, regardless of how corrupt they are, could ever take that from us.

Football

A new season is upon us, friends. Back to school sales and 90 degree days highlight the end of July and beginning of August, but as a teacher I gotta tell you that the anxiety I get from the end of summer is always easier knowing that football is starting up again.

It’s also the time of the year where the constant search for “Song of the Summer” has really hit it’s groove; we’re all looking for that iconic track that we can play as the days of aimless BBQ and Naturday pounding roll on. So, in an attempt to reconcile these major phenomenon, I’ve made a summer mixtape themed by previous Chicago Bears training camp moments.

1. Miley Cyrus- “Wrecking Ball”: Curtis Enis reports to training camp in 1999 in a Hummer. The only thing that dude could wreck were the hopes and dreams of Shane Matthews asking for decent blitz pickup. Also worth mentioning: that dude can wreck a buffet. The best thing Curtis Enis brought to my life was the time my friend’s dad stitched a “P” on the back of one of his jerseys. My dad’s friend was a Packer fan, so it took me a few years to appreciate his comic genius.

2. Chance the Rapper- “Groceries”: Darnell Autry looks like he can play pro football in 1997. I was 11 and I would’ve bet all the Beanie Babies on Earth that he was going to be a future MVP. Whoops. Two local products, one of which is a globetrotting artist with a Grammy, and one that couldn’t stay in the pros.

3. Meat Wave- “It’s Not Alright”: Mike Glennon touted for his leadership during 2017 training camp. Does this need an explanation?

4. Pelafina- “Significant Weather”: The 2015 shift to a 3-4 defense for the first time in franchise history. The chorus to this song is “this heaven is ours”, and all I can do is picture Roquan Smith and I skipping through a field laughing. Somewhere, Ted Washington and Keith Traylor are upset and hungry. The Bears shifting to a new defensive front 4 years ago has been absolute heaven for me.

5. The Beatles- “Tomorrow Never Knows”: 2007, fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, the Bears move Devin Hester to wide receiver. Did this move ruin the greatest return man in history? Would he have continued his tear as a punt returner if he wasn’t also tasked with learning the offense?

6. Jar’d Loose- “Coming Like a Nightmare”: 2003, the rookie campaigns of both Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman. Fun fact, Jar’d Loose named their band as an homage to the “Peanut Punch” created by Tillman. This one is less training camp based and more of me bragging that I know a metal band named after the greatest Bears defensive back of all time.

7. The Red Army Choir- “National Anthem of the Soviet Union”: Roquan Smith (or any Bear) holds out of training camp because of a salary dispute. Now, I’m not a Communist, but when a player holds out for more money I inherently take their side, because the McCaskey’s sure as hell aren’t taking long term body/brain damage for my entertainment. PAY THE MAN!

8. Any Hatebreed song: Training camp brawls. Look, I don’t want to see fights during training camp, but if you aren’t at least entertained knowing that Kyle Long is ready to demolish anyone by early August, I got nothing for you.

9. Judas Priest- “You Got Another Thing Coming” RE: all the pundits predicting a Green Bay division title in 2019.