WBEZ | Chicago Bears http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-bears Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: The big personalities and big wins of the 1985 Chicago Bears http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-28/morning-shift-big-personalities-and-big-wins-1985 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bears Flickr The Downstairs Lounge.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We talk with Rich Cohen about his new book on the Chicago Bears&#39; magical 1985 season. We also hear reactions to the long-awaited Lake Shore Drive extension and delve into the complications that come with labeling sexuality.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-43/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-43.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-43" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The big personalities and big wins of the 1985 Chicago Bears" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 28 Oct 2013 08:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-10-28/morning-shift-big-personalities-and-big-wins-1985 Bears fans react to debate over concussions http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-fans-react-debate-over-concussions-108905 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_mikemorbeck.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A senior football player at Lane Tech high school <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-10/news/chi-injured-lane-tech-players-family-to-attend-game-20131010_1_waiting-game-sister-critical-condition">remains in critical condition today</a> after suffering a severe head injury at last Friday&rsquo;s game.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the latest, and perhaps most local, in a string of news stories about football-related brain injuries.</p><p>On Tuesday, PBS FRONTLINE began airing a much-anticipated documentary, called<em> <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/">League of Denial</a></em>, based on a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/League-Denial-Concussions-Battle-Truth-ebook/dp/B00DXKJ6IQ">book</a> by the same name, about football&rsquo;s connection to long-term brain damage.</p><p><a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2013/10/league_of_denial_documentary_is_a_cautionary_tale_for_every_parent_and_should_give_pause_to_every_nf.html">Some</a> <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1803918-league-of-denial-strikes-at-the-heart-of-the-nfl-and-football-as-we-know-it">say</a> the documentary, and the companion book by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, could fundamentally change how people view the game of football.</p><p>WBEZ wondered what kind of impact the overall debate has had on local football fans. We headed to Soldier Field two hours before kick-off Thursday night to find out.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s what a few Bears fans had to say:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;(The NFL is) doing a lot to improve the game, but it&rsquo;s a little too late for the guys that have been playing for 20, 30 years.&rdquo; - Paul Loftus</p><p>&ldquo;It changed the perspective a little bit, but we love football. We&rsquo;re a football family.&rdquo; - Chris French</p><p>&ldquo;I think everybody, before they get into high-level football, should be aware of the risks. But I think, everything in life is kind of a risk-reward decision. So (players) should be aware of the risk before they make their decision, because I feel like up to this point, it&rsquo;s been a lot of, we don&rsquo;t really know how bad concussions are, but now they know.&rdquo; - Val Pinskiy</p><p>&ldquo;If I had a son, I would look at the way, they play football. But as far as watching a game, that&rsquo;s what you pay for. They&rsquo;re kind of like gladiators.&rdquo; - Kurt Schlickman</p></blockquote><p>What do you think about the link between football and long-term brain damage? Has it changed how you view professional football? College? High school? Pop Warner?</p><p>Have you seen the PBS FRONTLINE documentary? What did you think? Note: League of Denial: The NFL&rsquo;s Concussion Crisis airs again tonight, Friday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on WTTW. Find other local times <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/local-schedule/">here</a>.</p><p><em>Share your thoughts in the comment section below or e-mail WBEZ producer Becky Vevea at <a href="mailto:bvevea@wbez.org">bvevea@wbez.org</a>.</em></p><p><em>Monica Eng contributed to reporting. Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-fans-react-debate-over-concussions-108905 Does Marc Trestman hold the Bears' Golden Ticket? http://www.wbez.org/news/does-marc-trestman-hold-bears-golden-ticket-108783 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Trestman AP Photo_Don Wright.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-7fcd7129-5c84-6b53-f704-d4025a62f3f1">Marc Trestman is a former college quarterback who was certainly known in and around football. He had 17 years of experience in the NFL with eight different organizations. He worked as a running backs&rsquo; coach, a quarterbacks&rsquo; coach and an offensive coordinator; he coached college ball too. He was a football savant but rubbed people the wrong way. And then...he disappeared.</p><p dir="ltr">The football world knew he was in Canada but didn&rsquo;t pay too much attention to that, according to Yahoo! Sports writer <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/news/football-thursday--bears-coach-marc-trestman-needed-exile-in-canada-to-overcome--doesn-t-relate-well--reputation-174051955.html">Les Carpenter</a>. Trestman had spent the last five years in Montreal coaching the Alouettes; he led the team to back-to-back Grey Cup championships, that&rsquo;s Canada&rsquo;s version of the Super Bowl. He was the CFL&rsquo;s Coach of the Year in 2009.</p><p dir="ltr">So what changed? Why after years of being bounced around the NFL was he suddenly this successful head coach? Carpenter traveled to Canada to find out.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think he went up there and he realized, &lsquo;I need to understand people. I need to deal with football players as people--not as names on a roster sheet or numbers in front of me on jerseys.&rsquo; And I think a lot of the players really embraced that. They felt, &lsquo;gosh, this is a guy who really cares about me,&rsquo;&rdquo; Carpenter explained.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s certainly how Alouette wide receiver Brandon London felt&hellip;eventually.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t think that we were going to get along...because I was thinking in my head, here&rsquo;s a coach that&rsquo;s going to try and change me. But after that three years of being together, Coach Trestman&rsquo;s become a really good friend of mine, (a) really good mentor of mine,&rdquo; London said.</p><p dir="ltr">And London&rsquo;s not starving for football mentors. His father&rsquo;s Mike London, a former NFL player and the current head coach at the University of Virginia.</p><p dir="ltr">But, London said Trestman made him think about football in a very different, very detailed way. Or as he put it, &ldquo;obsessive.&rdquo; And Carpenter concurred.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;He wants things to be very meticulous...almost to the point where there can&rsquo;t be typos in the schedule that they put out every day for the things that they&rsquo;re going to do,&rdquo; Carpenter explained.</p><p dir="ltr">Trestman&rsquo;s current players had even more to say about his character.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I always say Coach Trestman reminds me of the first Willy Wonka...not the Johnny Depp one, the Johnny Depp one&rsquo;s really cool...but the first one. Cause if you really look at coach, he&rsquo;s a genius...I thought Willy Wonka was brilliant,&rdquo; tight end Martellus Bennett said recently.</p><p dir="ltr">And, the candy man, like Trestman, for those who don&rsquo;t remember, had an eye for detail.</p><p dir="ltr">It makes sense that Trestman is a meticulous guy. He is, after all, an attorney. He got his law degree while working as an assistant coach under Jimmy Johnson at the University of Miami. &nbsp;Between NFL gigs in the &lsquo;90s, Trestman also spent a few years working as a stockbroker, selling municipal bonds and managing investment portfolios.</p><p dir="ltr">Oh...and he <a href="http://www.coachmarctrestman.com/">wrote a book</a> about perseverance and leadership and he is frequently referred to as a genius. But Carpenter said that Trestman&rsquo;s smarts often rubbed people the wrong way.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think it was some of the bookish look, the lawyerish look as somebody described it to me...I think some of it was that idea that he wasn&rsquo;t going to come out drinking, he wasn&rsquo;t going to hang out in bars with other coaches,&rdquo; Carpenter surmised.</p><p dir="ltr">That seemed to be something Trestman was able to work through in Montreal. Because London called him a friend and Bears tight end Martellus Bennett now says the Bears look at their coach as one of the players.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;He&rsquo;s just like of the guys out there...he&rsquo;s like a teammate to us, he&rsquo;s not just a coach...he&rsquo;s part of this team,&rdquo; Bennett explained.</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ sports contributor Cheryl Raye-Stout has covered the Monsters of the Midway for the better part of three decades. She wasn&rsquo;t sold on the Wonka analogy but said, &ldquo;If they [the Bears] could make the playoffs, then the Golden Ticket I think would be punched then.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">She said the surest way to do that is to get Jay Cutler to buy in--and that shouldn&rsquo;t be too difficult for Trestman. He coached some of the NFL&rsquo;s best quarterbacks. He coached Steve Young and Rich Gannon; Gannon won the NFL MVP during Trestman&rsquo;s time with the Oakland Raiders.</p><p dir="ltr">And, Raye-Stout said, Trestman has already put in extra time with Cutler.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Trestman took all of every negative play that Cutler had last year...all the sacks, all the interceptions, all the bad plays and showed it to him. To kind of show him, this is what we&rsquo;re gonna work on. Jay was taken aback at first and then realized, he was dealing with someone that was not just on his level but above his level,&rdquo; Raye-Stout recalled.</p><p dir="ltr">At the end of the day, Bears fans won&rsquo;t care if Trestman is Willy Wonka, a lawyer, a quarterbacks coach, a stockbroker or a genius...so long as he&rsquo;s a winner.</p><p>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez.</a></p></p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 18:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/does-marc-trestman-hold-bears-golden-ticket-108783 Morning Shift: The music of Curtis Mayfield http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-26/morning-shift-music-curtis-mayfield-108776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/vinyl music thursday Flickr by Peter Organisciak.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tony Sarabia and Richard Steele welcome Reggie Torian to talk abou the soulful, complex sounds of Curtis Mayfield. We also hear about Bears head coach, Marc Trestman, and check in with an organizer of the world&#39;s second oldest LGBT film fest.</p></p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 12:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-26/morning-shift-music-curtis-mayfield-108776 Chicago film pioneer Ronn Pitts dies http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-09/chicago-film-pioneer-ronn-pitts-dies-108745 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6674_121115-Ron-Pitts2_0.jpg" style="height: 260px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="File: Filmmaker Ronn Pitts at his Columbia College Chicago office in 2012. (WBEZ/Alison Cuddy)" /><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YCTALHzoeg">Ronn Pitts</a> was such a popular and beloved teacher at Columbia College Chicago, some of his students created a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/66576121688/">Facebook page</a> praising his &ldquo;cool&rdquo;.</div><p>Pitts, a native of Bronzeville, died yesterday at the age of 76. He lived a remarkable and adventurous life, including breaking the color barrier in Chicago filmmaking and academic circles.</p><p>But his biggest impact may well be as a teacher and mentor, a man committed to community and social activism.</p><p>Pitts was both cool and warm. When I met him in late 2012, I felt as if I&rsquo;d immediately made a lifelong friend. I&rsquo;ve yet to meet a faculty member or student at Columbia who doesn&rsquo;t remember him fondly.</p><p>Jerry Blumenthal of Kartemquin Films met Pitts when, with Margaret Caples, they set up the <a href="http://www.cfwchicago.org/">Community Film Workshop</a> at the &ldquo;old&rdquo; Columbia College (then located at 540 Lake Shore Drive).</p><p>&ldquo;He made you feel very good and very happy about being a member of the film community,&rdquo; said Blumenthal. &ldquo;He was a great comrade, extremely friendly and funny and warm.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many others, Blumenthal says Pitts was also humble and never got the recognition he deserved.</p><p>Pitts led a life with Zelig-like qualities: He found himself in the midst of history-making events time and time again.</p><p>He was the first African-American hired to teach film at Columbia College and was still teaching there at the time of his death. He also broke color barriers as a filmmaker. Pitts and Joe Stratton, the man he called &nbsp;&ldquo;my best friend of all friends,&rdquo; were hired by George Halas in the 1960s to shoot film for the Chicago Bears.</p><p>&ldquo;We were the first blacks to shoot for any professional football team ever,&rdquo; Pitts said in a 2012 interview.</p><p>He also recounted adventures like filming during the 1965 march to Selma, Ala., and being &ldquo;kidnapped&rdquo; by Muhammad Ali to document the boxer as he prepared for his big fight against George Foreman in 1974.</p><p>Pitts got into film by working as a shipping clerk at a camera rental company, a job his mother got him (before that he was a bookie placing bets on horses). But shooting film was a major struggle.</p><p>&ldquo;There were no blacks shooting (news) cameras until 1973,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;There were no women, no blacks, nothing but white males.&rdquo;</p><p>In our 2012 interview, Pitts told me his own students got the same treatment when he sent them out to cover news, including fires or speeches by the mayor.</p><p>&ldquo;That was a great experience, because then I recognized what prejudice truly was,&rdquo; Pitts said. &ldquo;Those old men, they would cut their cords,&rdquo; and challenged him for training minorities.</p><p>Pitts eventually left Chicago, settling in San Francisco for 17 years. While there, he captured the death of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk on film. He was in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem the night Malcolm X was assassinated (Pitts said his footage was seized by police). And, he was behind the camera the day <strike>Chicago Bears</strike>&nbsp;Detroit Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes died of a heart attack on the Tiger Stadium field, during a game against the Chicago Bears. Pitts said those moments were the &ldquo;shocking things&rdquo; about filmmaking. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t take it back,&quot; he said. &quot;And you sleep with that at night, knowing that you captured death in your lens.&quot;</p><p>Pitts received his share of accolades &ndash; there&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.colum.edu/Student_Financial_Services/create-a-plan/scholarships/ronn-pitts.php">scholarship in his name</a> at Columbia and he&rsquo;s been recognized by other film organizations. &nbsp;October 10 was declared Ronn Pitts day in Chicago, and Charles Celander, the Operations Manager in Columbia&rsquo;s Cinema Art and Science program, says they always celebrate with cake and good cheer.</p><p>That&rsquo;s a fitting tribute for Pitts, who despite some truly heavy experiences, remained a light and joyful spirit. &nbsp;When we spoke, Pitts said he considered himself a real live servant, a mission he encouraged others to accept.</p><p>&ldquo;We are here on this planet to take care of each other,&rdquo; said Pitts. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s it.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-hosts the WBEZ podcasts <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels</a> and <a href="https://soundcloud.com/strangebrews">Strange Brews</a>. Follow her on<a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p></p> Mon, 23 Sep 2013 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-09/chicago-film-pioneer-ronn-pitts-dies-108745 Morning Shift: Car-free and gravity-free http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-23/morning-shift-car-free-and-gravity-free-108739 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Spacewalker Flickr by Luke Bryant.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Andy and Alden from the Better Government Association give us the nitty gritty on lawsuits and the city. We also hear from a man who&#39;s walked in space-a lot! Retired astronaut Jerry Ross.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-130923/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-130923.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-130923" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Car-free and gravity-free" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 23 Sep 2013 08:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-23/morning-shift-car-free-and-gravity-free-108739 The origins of Chicago's sports mascots http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/origins-chicagos-sports-mascots-108693 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F111260692" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Craig Scanlon from Chicago&#39;s Ravenswood neighborhood noticed something odd about a couple of the city&#39;s sports teams. One: The Bears and the Cubs are awfully similar mascots. Two: Are there even any bears in Chicago? Seeking some clarity, he asked Curious City this question:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><em>What are the origins of Chicago&rsquo;s professional sports mascots?</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the true spirit of sportsmanship, we asked a team of WBEZ producers to take on Craig&#39;s question. And we start with Benny the Bull.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Bulls</strong>&nbsp;<strong>mascot - Benny the Bull</strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Benny%20the%20Bull%20original1.jpg" title="Benny the Bull (AP/File)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />Despite becoming one of the league&rsquo;s most successful franchises, the Chicago Bulls took some time&mdash;and some sweet talk&mdash;to get running.<br /><br />The Bulls were the fourth attempt to establish an NBA team in Chicago. First there was the Stags&hellip;then, if you can believe it, the Chicago Packers and lastly, and ever-so-briefly, the Chicago Zephyrs. According to Bulls lore (and The Chicago Bulls Encyclopedia), the club&rsquo;s first owner, Richard Klein, wanted the team&rsquo;s name to reflect strength and power and the city&rsquo;s reputation as Hog Butcher for the World.<br /><br />&ldquo;At first,&rdquo; Klein explained at the time, &ldquo;I was thinking of names like Matadors or Toreadors, but if you think about it, no team with as many as three syllables in its nickname has ever had much success except for the Canadians. I was sitting around the house, kicking these names around with my wife and three sons, when my little son Mark said, &lsquo;Dad, that&rsquo;s a bunch of bull!&rsquo; I said, &lsquo;That&rsquo;s it! We&rsquo;ll call them the Bulls!&rsquo; And that&rsquo;s how the team got its nickname.&rdquo;<br /><br />The team&rsquo;s mascot required more hot air than that. After the few other failed attempts to bring pro basketball to Chicago, the city&rsquo;s sports fans&mdash;and writers&mdash;weren&rsquo;t interested. So the Bulls brought on a former big-time fight announcer to be the team&rsquo;s public relations man. Ben Bentley, affectionately known to the boxing world and beyond as &ldquo;Benny,&rdquo; said he used to struggle to give tickets away in the early days; he used to turn up daily at Chicago&rsquo;s four newspapers to talk up the team and hand out tickets. His thought was, if he got them in the seats, he&rsquo;d make sure they had a reason to come back for more. One time, he wrestled a bear at half time to get people talking!<br /><br />And so, the team&rsquo;s original hype man lives on in its luv-a-bull mascot, Benny the Bull.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>-Katie O&#39;Brien</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Blackhawks</strong>&nbsp;<strong>mascot - Tommy Hawk</strong><br />&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tommyhawk1.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 450px; float: right;" title="Tommyhawk (AP/File)" />The Blackhawks are named so in honor of a the 19th-century Sauk Indian warrior, Black Hawk. His tribe made their home along Illinois&rsquo;s Rock River. He began his quest to keep that land for his people as a teenager&mdash;and did so well into his 60s. After tribes in the region signed over lands east of the Mississippi River to the federal government, Black Hawk led a rebellion. He and some 1,500 followers&mdash;500 warriors and 1,000 women and children&mdash;on a 15-week campaign which caused panic in the area. Ultimately, Black Hawk was captured and most of his followers were killed. &nbsp; &nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />It was his captors that turned him into a mascot of sorts. He was taken to Washington, where he met with President Andrew Jackson. Black Hawk became a media sensation, the symbol of resistance and rebellion, strength and resilience.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />When the team&rsquo;s founder, Major Frederic McLaughlin, he drew inspiration from his time serving as an Army commander in WWI. His division called themselves the Black Hawks in honor of the warrior.<br /><br />Beth Carvey, directs the museum at Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island. She said Black Hawk believed in fighting for his people and doing what was right by his people, even if it was a lost cause.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Blackhawks introduced Tommy Hawk, a hawk clad in a Blackhawk&#39;s jersey and pants and sporting the four feathers of the logo on his head, in the 2001-2002 season.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>-Katie O&#39;Brien</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>Bears mascot - Staley</strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bears%20mascot1.jpg" style="height: 311px; width: 210px; float: left;" title="Staley (AP/File)" /></div><p>George Halas, one of the founding fathers of the NFL, didn&rsquo;t first start with the name Bears for his original franchise. The team began playing in 1919 in Decatur, Illinois and was known as the Decatur Staleys since it was a owned by the A.E. Staley food starch company.&nbsp;</p><p>Halas took over the club in 1920 and moved the team to Chicago in 1921. According to the present team chairman, George McCaskey (and Halas grandson), the team had to keep the name Staleys for one year after they moved to Chicago, while they played at Wrigley Field.&nbsp; Halas thought about naming his Chicago team, the Cubs, but thought football players were tougher and decided to anoint them as the Chicago Bears.</p><p>The team in recent years has had a kid-friendly team mascot that is a huge, almost cuddly bear, named Staley. His name was to honor the original team&#39;s name and also the hope that the name may inspire children to seek the history.</p><p><em>-Cheryl Raye-Stout</em></p><p><strong>White Sox mascot - Southpaw</strong></p><p>The Chicago White Sox installed &ldquo;Southpaw&rdquo; as their U.S. Cellular Field mascot in 2002. The green, lizard-like character&rsquo;s name references left-handed pitchers and the ball club&#39;s location on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side. But you have to go back decades to get a taste of some of the mascot controversy that has embroiled the White Sox over the years . Andy the Clown was Andy Rozdilsky dressed in clown makeup, a bowler hat, glasses and a ruffled collared polka-dotted costume. For over 20 year he would run around the park inciting shouts of &ldquo;Gooooo yooooouuuuu White Sox&rdquo; from children and adults alike as the unofficial mascot of the Chicago White Sox. Rozdilsky clowned around Comiskey Park from 1961-1981, until Jerry Reinsdorf&rsquo;s ownership group bought the team.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/South Paw.jpg" style="float: right; height: 405px; width: 300px;" title="South Paw " /></p><p>Reinsdorf hired a design firm to come up with a new mascot for the White Sox in an effort to keep up with the times, and plushy dinosaurs, chickens and other assorted abstract animals were all the rage.</p><p>White Sox management introduced Ribbie and Roobarb, two almost inexplicably strange characters in 1981, but they were instantly unpopular as fans overwhelmingly rebelled against them, hurling insults, mock fighting and spitting on the duo. Fans waged a phone-in campaign to have the White Sox reinstate Andy, who had been banned from the park (while wearing his costume). Eventually the club compromised, saying Rozdilsky could continue to perform in the upper decks only, but fans would go out of their way to sneak Andy into the lower grandstands.</p><p>When the Sox moved to the new Comiskey Park, the White Sox officially retired Andy the Clown, and Rozdilsky retired from clowning (in costume) a few short years before he passed away in 1995.</p><p><em>-Justin Kaufmann</em></p><p><strong>Chicago Cardinals - Pom-Pon Girls, Cardettes and Gary Mann</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Cardinals &quot;Pom Pon&quot; Girls (Photo Courtesy of Chicago History Museum)" chicago="" class="image-original_image" courtesy="" girls="" history="" of="" photo="" pom="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cardinals%20Pom%20Pon%20Girls1.jpg" style="float: left; height: 353px; width: 400px;" title="Cardinals &quot;Pom Pon&quot; Girls (Photo Courtesy of Chicago History Museum)" /></div><p>Chicago&rsquo;s pro-football stepchild, the Chicago Cardinals, which became the St. Louis Cardinals, which became the Arizona Cardinals, didn&rsquo;t have an official mascot, according to sources with the team as well as at the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Chicago History Museum, but in the 1940s &amp; 50s they had the &quot;Pom-Pon Girls,&rdquo; the team&rsquo;s &quot;official vocalist, Gary Mann&quot; who sang the National Anthem, and the Cardettes, a &quot; 30-girl twirling and precision group.&quot;</p><p>The Cardinals played in Chicago until 1960, when for the sake of its financial survival, the team moved to St. Louis.<br /><br />The team&rsquo;s origins go back to 1898 when owner Chris O&#39;Brien formed the Morgan Athletic Club. Some years later, he bought used jerseys from the University of Chicago. Because the jerseys were old and used, they lacked the University&rsquo;s deep maroon color and were a strange faded red. O&rsquo;Brien decided the jerseys were &ldquo;Cardinal Red&rdquo;. The new &ldquo;Cardinals&rdquo; started playing their games on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side at 61st and Racine. They were known then as the &ldquo;Racine Street Cardinals&rdquo;.<br /><br /><em>Special thanks to Jon Kendle of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Lesley Martin of the Chicago History Museum and Allison LeClair of the NFL&#39;s Arizona Cardinals.</em></p><p><em>-Steve Bynum</em></p><p><strong>Chicago Cubs - No Mascot</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cubs%20logo.jpg" title="(Logan Jaffe)" /></div><p>The Chicago Cubs are one of four teams (Angels, Cubs, Yankees and Dodgers) with no official mascot. However, with the new 5-year, $300 million expansion plan for Wrigley Field, the club has reportedly partnered with Northwestern University to conduct a poll about what kid-friendly experiences to add to the ballpark. Among those items discussed, an official mascot, according to the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-09/sports/ct-spt-0310-cubs-spring-training-chicago--20130310_1_new-mascots-sox-fans-tommy-hawk">Chicago Tribune</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Chicago Fire - Sparky</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sparky1.jpg" title="Sparky (AP/File)" /></div><p>The official mascot for the Chicago Fire is Sparky, who resembles an upright Dalmatian. The mascot generally wears a Fire jersey, but it can often be seen entering Toyota Park in fireman attire. The Chicago Fire made Sparky the official mascot in 1998.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Chicago Sky - Sky Guy</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sky%20Guy1.jpg" title="(Courtesy of WBEZ's Jennifer Brandel)" /></div><p>Sky Guy is a yellow and blue-suited sky diver with a jet pack. Sky Guy has been the official mascot since the Chicago Sky became an offiicial WNBA team in 2006.</p><p><em>-Tim Akimoff</em></p></p> Tue, 17 Sep 2013 09:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/origins-chicagos-sports-mascots-108693 Morning Shift: A Superbowl champ tackles concussions in the game http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-06/morning-shift-superbowl-champ-tackles-concussions <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Football - Flickr- LITTLE MIAMI LACROSSE.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Bears Superbowl champ Dennis McKinnon discusses a new film that takes on the concussion epidemic in the NFL. Also, financial expert Sandy Botkin gives tips on saving for one of the mor financially taxing expenditures any of of us makes - higher education.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-59/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-59.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-59" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: A Superbowl champ tackles concussions in the game" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 06 Sep 2013 08:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-06/morning-shift-superbowl-champ-tackles-concussions NOM caught in lie about Chicago Bears' donation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/nom-caught-lie-about-chicago-bears-donation-106514 <p><div><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1337256000000.cached.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="File: From left, Martha and Stan Harper hold signs in support of the National Organization for Marriage on Aug. 10, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (AP)" />On Wednesday, <a href="http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/04/03/another-homophobic-nfl-team" target="_blank">Dan Savage</a> and Equality Matters gave Chicagoans a <a href="http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/nom-bears-false-witness-chicago-bears-call-nom-claims-about-support-false/marriage/2013/04/03/64368" target="_blank">heart attack</a> when they informed us that our beloved Bears (the sports team kind) may be collaborating with a hate group. Equality <a href="http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201304030002#.UVyLtJG0-FZ.facebook" target="_blank">passed along</a> an email from Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage, who runs NOM&rsquo;s Ruth Institute Gala. The &ldquo;esteemed&rdquo; doctor (probably a mail-in thing) specifically trumpeted coveted donations from the Bears organization, which included signed memorabilia from Brian Urlacher and Walter Payton.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dr. Doom wrote:</div><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This year, we&#39;re planning on sending our graduates off with a bang! And we&#39;ve got some help! Several donors have stepped up and donated terrific items for us to raffle as prizes in an effort to raise funds for ITAF &#39;13...</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;For now, you should know that we have two fabulous raffle items from the Chicago Bears Organization (and a huge THANK YOU to the Bears for supporting our message).&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">It was news to the Bears organization, who had no idea what Roback Morse was talking about. When WBEZ contacted the Bears for comment, we received the same message that went out to the rest of the press:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The two items featured in The Ruth Institute gala invitation were personal donations to (President) Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. Neither was a club donation, nor do they represent the team&#39;s view on any social issues. Any remarks stating otherwise are false.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/chi-chicago-bears-same-sex-marriage-20130403,0,4979361.story" target="_blank">Chicago Tribune</a> backed up the team&rsquo;s assertion that the relationship was in Roback Morse&#39;s head:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&quot;I sign a lot of stuff for charity and I don&#39;t always know where it goes,&quot; Urlacher told the Tribune. &quot;If I would have known it was for this cause, I wouldn&#39;t have done it.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Payton&#39;s older brother Eddie Payton said he did not know of any memorabilia regarding his brother used to support an anti-gay marriage group.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;This is the first I&#39;ve heard of it,&quot; said Payton, a former NFL kick returner. &quot;Walter treated everybody equal. Â…Only Walter could speak for himself, but it&#39;s a touchy subject. It should be a non-subject.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Before the explosion got too big, Roback Morse decided to walk away from it slowly and coolly, like in a Michael Bay movie, lest anyone realized what had happened. To minimize damage, the goodly doctor issued a complete retraction:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&quot;The Ruth Institute is not working with the Chicago Bears organization or any of its players past or present to promote our upcoming auction. The memorabilia we are auctioning off was acquired by me personally, not through the team or players. We understand that the Chicago Bears organization takes no position on social issues, and we regret any confusion we may have caused on this point.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">But what did happen here? If you translate this email from PR doublespeak into plain English, it comes out to:</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Ruth Institute lies lies lies lies lies lies lies. Et cetera, et cetera. Clarification of previous lie. Deeply sorry, et cetera. Never do it again, et cetera. Didn&rsquo;t mean to cause harm, et cetera. America, et cetera. Love football, et cetera. We&rsquo;re still bigots, et cetera.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Latin roots can be a little misleading, but according to my scholars fluent in hate, that&rsquo;s the gist.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicagoans have taken solace in knowing that the Bears were completely let off the hook here for any wrongdoing. But the reality of NOM is still sick and depressing. The <a href="http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pro-family-leaders-warn-that-hate-group-label-defines-christianity-as-bigotry/" target="_blank">National Organization for Marriage</a> is a <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2013/03/26/national-organization-for-marriage-has-a-rough-start-to-2013/" target="_blank">notorious hate group</a>, as measured by the <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/summer/shading-the-truth" target="_blank">Southern Poverty Law Center</a>&rsquo;s &ldquo;Flaming Bigotry Meter.&rdquo; (Their hate <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/summer/shading-the-truth" target="_blank">goes up to 11</a>.) <a href="http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201304030002#.UVyLtJG0-FZ.facebook" target="_blank">Equality Matters</a> surveyed the organization last year only to find that <a href="http://www.hrc.org/nomexposed" target="_blank">NOM</a> conferences &ldquo;peddled&rdquo; anti-gay propaganda to attendees.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: justify;">According to <a href="http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201304030002#.UVyLtJG0-FZ.facebook" target="_blank">Equality</a>, this is what everyone&rsquo;s favorite Dirty Bigot Liars were telling people:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li style="text-align: justify;">&quot;Same-sex parents are more likely to molest their children than heterosexual parents</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Children raised by gay parents are more likely to identify as gay</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Homosexuality is a sin akin to polygamy or incest</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Same-sex relationships are &ldquo;dysfunctional&rdquo; and &ldquo;inherently unstable&rdquo;</li></ul><p dir="ltr">In addition, one of the speakers at <a href="http://www.ruthinstitute.org/ITAF12/" target="_blank">ITAF</a>, Robert Gagnon, <a href="http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201304030002#.UVyLtJG0-FZ.facebook" target="_blank">once compared</a> high schools&rsquo; Gay-Straight Alliance groups to &ldquo;Nazi skinheads&rdquo; and opines that LGBT people are &ldquo;worthy of death.&rdquo; Gagnon will be presenting at the conference again this year, because one good hate speech deserves another.</p><p dir="ltr">This might not be surprising to anyone familiar with NOM&#39;s radical, exclusionary politics, nor will it be a shock that opponents of marriage equality are willing to lie and spread false propaganda to curtail the nuptial rights of queer people. We&rsquo;re seeing that in Illinois. Remember those robocalls about &ldquo;homosexual money?&rdquo; If it was a promise, I&rsquo;m still waiting to receive mine. I&rsquo;m hoping they show up with a big, gay million dollar bill like Ed McMahon.</p><p dir="ltr">However, despite what the organization&rsquo;s name suggests, it&rsquo;s not just about marriage. It&rsquo;s about keeping queer people afraid. It&rsquo;s about maintaining a system that works against queer families, lives and livelihoods and rolling back the hard-earned rights we&rsquo;ve fought for. It&rsquo;s about ensuring that it will never get better, ever &mdash; no matter how many people die to get there.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s particularly pathetic that NOM is trying to bring the Chicago Bears into their anti-gay politics, especially at a time when the NFL is attempting to fight its own history of homophobia and queer exclusion. Last week, the NFL players&rsquo; union came out to <a href="http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20130326/OPINION05/303260002/NFL-union-weighs-same-sex-marriage" target="_blank">support same-gay marriage</a>, a huge step forward for an industry that&rsquo;s been afraid to even acknowledge the existence of queer people. Slowly, the NFL is coming out of the closet, and NOM is trying to shove them right back in.</p><p dir="ltr">Other than their right-wing supporters, few take NOM seriously. Who cares about Roback Morse or what she thinks? No one even knew who she was until this week. Luckily, they won&#39;t know next week, either. Obscurity is a beautiful place.</p><p dir="ltr">However, a great number of people care what the Bears think. Locally and nationally, the Bears are a symbol of masculinity and part of how the culture teaches young boys to be men (which, apparently, means covering your body in orange and blue paint and yelling &ldquo;Woop! Woop!&rdquo; in the cold).</p><p dir="ltr">As a kid reading Sports Illustrated, I looked up to my sports heroes to teach me what brotherhood and leadership were. Teams throw around these concepts but so often don&rsquo;t live up to them.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicagoans hoped that the Bears would come out on the right side of history and show queer and allied fans that everyone&rsquo;s support matters. By speaking out against NOM&#39;s claim, the Bears have sent a great message about what teamwork means to them: that a team means all of us, Bears and Chicagoans alike. If they could show their support by one day having a gay player on the team, all the better.</p><p dir="ltr">In the meantime, the Bears have exposed NOM&#39;s hate for what it is: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang covers LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang" target="_blank">Twitter</a> or find them on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 05 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/nom-caught-lie-about-chicago-bears-donation-106514 Dear Santa: Please help Chicago sports teams this Christmas http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/dear-santa-please-help-chicago-sports-teams-christmas-104492 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bears_-santa.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 438px" title="Santa has a long list from the Bears this year.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" /></div><p>Children are not the only ones hoping Santa Claus can bring them all the items on their wish-list. Sports teams have compiled a list that they hope the jolly old man may put under their Christmas tree. OK, maybe they don&#39;t have a list, but here is what I think they want &mdash; it&rsquo;s not sugar plums and candy canes.</p><p>The Bears, and specifically Head Coach Lovie Smith, have a long list of wishes. A playoff berth is top on the list in big bold letters. Smith&rsquo;s future here as the Bears head coach may be tied into a postseason appearance. Winning the last two games and loses by other teams may get them in the playoffs (lots of work for Santa). General Manager Phil Emery must have plenty of wishes, too. High on his list are numerous offensive linemen, a wide receiver and a sure-handed tight end. Basically he&#39;s dealing with the personal that former GM Jerry Angelo left for him.</p><p>It&#39;s not hard to figure out what the Cubs would love to get: wins &mdash;&nbsp;lots and lots of wins. It is probably on top of every Cubs fan&#39;s list, too. Team President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have been filling out the roster with some free agents: Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa. Face it: The Cubs are going to be a struggle this year maybe the next, so wins may be on the team&rsquo;s wish list for a few holiday seasons. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts may have something bigger on his mind: a plan for renovations for Wrigley Field. Is it time for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to stop being a Grinch and start getting down to business at Clark and Addison?</p><p>On the South side, the White Sox wish is for fans over two million strong to move the turnstile this year. It would be nice since attendance has been on a decline for the past few years. Last season the Sox were in first place in the AL Central most of the year, but were one of the worst teams in baseball in fan attendance. With reduced ticket pricing and other fan-friendly deals ($10 parking on Sundays) maybe the numbers will improve; they also have to be competitive again on the field. Winning the American League Central would be a real present.</p><p>It is not hard to figure out what the Bulls want to see under their Christmas tree: a full-strength and fully recovered Derrick Rose. That may be a tall order for Santa to handle. No one knows for sure when that will happen. So, maybe a trip to the All-Star game for Joakim Noah would be a nice gift. Fans can help Jolly St. Nick by stuffing the All-Star ballot box &mdash;&nbsp;put votes in for Luol Deng, too. Another wish would be acquiring another major star player to complement Rose&rsquo;s return. Now that&rsquo;s a big wish.</p><p>The Blackhawks and their fans have one wish: a season.</p><p>Santa&rsquo;s magic has to extend at least another week to make a special News Year&rsquo;s Day for the Northern Illinois Huskies. They want to upset the Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl in Miami. On that same day, Northwestern University head coach Pat Fitzgerald would love to snap the Wildcats bowl losing streak at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville Florida (NU is facing Mississippi State).</p><p>Keeping the win column filled with victories is the hope of the Illini basketball team; they got a nice present when they hired John Groce to coach the team.</p><p>DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern and UIC (men&rsquo;s and women&rsquo;s teams) are all hoping they get wins on the hard court floor to fill their stockings (and maybe some front-line recruits).</p><p>It would be great if Santa gave Northwestern&rsquo;s women&rsquo;s lacrosse team another NCAA Championship and let the Chicago Sky finally compete in the WNBA playoffs.</p><p>Of course, there will be coal put in at least a couple of stockings&hellip;the NHL&#39;s and Lance Armstrong&#39;s.</p><p>Whatever you celebrate, may I wish each and every one of you a Happy holiday season! Hope those going through tough times will find comfort and may your hopes and dreams come true. I still believe!</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://&lt;https://twitter.com/Crayestout&gt;">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/dear-santa-please-help-chicago-sports-teams-christmas-104492