WBEZ | NFL http://www.wbez.org/tags/nfl Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 What Phil Emery needs to get the Chicago Bears in the draft http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/what-phil-emery-needs-get-chicago-bears-draft-106790 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_phil_emery_pre-draft_jim_prisching.jpg" style="float: right; height: 222px; width: 300px;" title="Phil Emery addresses the media before the draft. (AP/File)" />Thursday is every holiday rolled up into one for Chicago Bears General Manager Phil Emery: the start of the NFL draft.</p><p>Several free agent signings in recent months have peppered this team with some needed help.</p><p>But the loss of some players to free agency and the decision to go in an alternative direction has re-shaped the Bears. There is also the desire to find replacements for woeful players.</p><p>Emery is talking all calls to move out of the first round with the team&rsquo;s 20th pick for the right deal. If the Bears GM could grab two more selections and fill positions like offensive guard and linebacker, a trade would be welcome.</p><p>This will be the first draft in a long time without Lovie Smith involved. Emery now has his handpicked head coach Marc Trestman.</p><p>There is no doubt Emery is focused on what this team needs.&nbsp;</p><p>When former number one draft pick Gabe Carimi is moved from tackle to guard and still has to compete with new free agent signee former Jets guard Matt Slauson and second year player (undrafted) James Brown you know the Bears feel that position may still be inadequate.</p><p>Offensive coordinator coaching guru Aaron Cromer says he doesn&#39;t care where a player is drafted. He will start the best five to protect the quarterback.</p><p>The only returning starting linebacker is 32-year-old Lance Briggs. Brian Urlacher is still waiting by the phone for a NFL roster spot. Nick Roach signed with Oakland.</p><p>Emery didn&rsquo;t hesitate to sign a couple of linebackers to one year deals: former Denver bronco D.J. Williams and former Carolina Panther James Anderson. Williams has a checkered past. Maybe a new team will help him settle down.</p><p>You can&rsquo;t forget last year the Bears dealt two third round draft picks for troubled Brandon Marshall. That deal not only worked out, it showed the Emery has guts.</p><p>The Bears have a couple of back-up quarterbacks on their roster: Josh McCown and Matt Blanchard. Neither is the future (or the present).</p><p>Jay Cutler will likely enter the season in the final year of his deal without a contract extension and the Bears would love for him to have a monster year.</p><p>The Super Bowl Champions in Baltimore had the same scenario last year with Joe Flacco. They are paying Flacco a ton of money now and their salary cap was decimated. But they will get their championship rings in a few months.</p><p>Sometimes you have to gamble and gladly win in the end.</p><p>The Bears should look for a quarterback in the draft. Seattle found Russell Wilson in the third round last year. Maybe there is another gem hidden in the middle rounds.</p><p>Emery addressed the offensive line&rsquo;s biggest need by signing left tackle Jermon Bushrod.</p><p>Getting tight end Martellus Bennett adds another weapon for Cutler. But if another quality tight end is available the Bears would likely make that selection.</p><p>The Bears may need to look for some youth at cornerback. Charles Tillman is 32 and injuries are a factor. Both starters Tillman and Tim Jennings were Pro Bowlers last season, but the league is full of talented and big wide receivers. Another cornerback could be necessary.</p><p>After the draft, the Bears will likely continue to fill out the roster with undrafted players, free agents and unsigned veterans.</p><p>One Bear who is still sitting waiting for a team is defensive lineman Israel Idonije. The NFL salary cap has hampered most teams. Veterans like him will either take a big pay cut or may be forced into retirement. Urlacher is in the same boat.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></em></p></p> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/what-phil-emery-needs-get-chicago-bears-draft-106790 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 App will help parents, kids map routes to new schools http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/app-will-help-parents-kids-map-routes-new-schools-106278 <p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><a href="http://cps.go2school.org/" target="_blank"><img alt="Go to School!" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Go%20to%20School%21.png" style="border-width: 3px; border-style: solid; height: 508px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="cps.go2school.org/" /></a><strong>&#39;ATTENDING A NEW SCHOOL COULD BE A DANGEROUS PROSPECT.&#39; </strong>As Chicago prepares for its largest-ever round of school closings, Tom Kompare, a member of Chicago&#39;s vibrant <a href="http://www.meetup.com/OpenGovChicago/" target="_blank">Open Government Chicago</a> programming movement, has created a new Web application called <strong>&quot;Go to School!&quot;</strong>&nbsp;-- to help families across Chicago gauge &quot;their travel options.&quot; That includes, as he explains in an email to the group, &quot;locations of police stations, fire stations, and hospitals.&quot;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">He says&nbsp;it started out as a selfish exercise: &quot;I sometimes get to work from home and get to pick up my daughter after school. I need to hop on the L do so, and was wondering when I had to leave in order to get there on time.&quot;</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">The app&#39;s up and running now, with maps showing which schools are closing or relocating. By this fall, he expects to add so-called &quot;safe haven&quot; businesses and crossing guard locations. It works on smartphones or desktop browsers. Check it out at <a href="http://cps.go2school.org/" target="_blank">cps.go2school.org</a>.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">Meanwhile, Kompare is making <a href="https://github.com/tkompare/go2school" target="_blank">the source code available here</a> to anyone who wants to adapt it for use by other school districts.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">* <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/25/cps-school-closing-fight-_n_2950921.html" target="_blank">Student protests escalate</a>, along with fear over violence.<br />* Chicago putting <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-police-foot-patrols,0,7096814.story" target="_blank">more cops on foot patrol</a> along dangerous blocks.</span></p><hr /><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 18px;"><em><span style="color: rgb(128, 0, 0);">Suggestions for this blog?&nbsp;</span><a href="mailto:cmeyerson@wbez.org?subject=Things%20and%20stuff">Email anytime</a>.</em></span></span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>A MILLIONAIRE AT 17.</strong>&nbsp;British teenager&nbsp;Nick D&rsquo;Aloisio has sold his news-reading app, <a href="http://summly.com/" target="_blank">Summly</a>, to Yahoo for a figure <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/business/media/nick-daloisio-17-sells-summly-app-to-yahoo.html?_r=0" target="_blank">reportedly in the tens of millions of dollars</a>. And how was your Monday?<br />* <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/spotify-plans-to-take-on-netflix-and-hbo-with-streaming-video-service-2013-3?op=1" target="_blank">Spotify targets Netflix, HBO</a> with streaming video, including original content.<br />* <a href="http://thenextweb.com/facebook/2013/03/25/facebook-improves-its-commenting-system-bringing-threaded-comments-and-replies-at-last/" target="_blank">Facebook finally adds &quot;Reply&quot; option</a> to comments.<br />* Facebook founder Zuckerberg creates <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/facebooks-zuckerberg-push-immigration-reform" target="_blank">organization to promote immigration reform</a>.<br />* Mayor Bloomberg seems to suggest <a href="http://politicker.com/2013/03/did-mayor-bloomberg-warn-rupert-murdoch-to-stop-twittering/" target="_blank">Rupert Murdoch stay off Twitter</a>.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>&#39;HI, IN THE PAST 2 YEARS, YOU HAVE ALLOWED ME TO KILL 70,000 PEOPLE.&#39;</strong>&nbsp;<em>The Onion&nbsp;</em><a href="http://www.theonion.com/articles/hi-in-the-past-2-years-you-have-allowed-me-to-kill,31805/" target="_blank">makes fun of&nbsp;Syria&#39;s president,&nbsp;Bashar al-Assad</a>. Or is it making fun of everyone else?<br />*&nbsp;<a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-un-syria-20130325,0,6661725.story" target="_blank">UN pulls staff out of Syria</a> because of deteriorating conditions.</span></p><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>NFLer OUT OF THE CLOSET?</strong>&nbsp;CBS Sports reports <a href="http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/mike-freeman/21946093/some-believe-atmosphere-is-safe-for-gay-nfl-player-to-come-out" target="_blank">a current NFL player is considering coming out publicly</a>. His main concern, the report says, is that <a href="http://deadspin.com/report-a-gay-nfl-player-is-strongly-considering-comi-458750903" target="_blank">he&#39;ll be in jeopardy from homophobic fans</a>.</span></p><hr /><p><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em><br /><em>* Get this blog by email, free. <a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">Sign up here</a>.</em><br /><em>* Follow us on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbez" target="_blank">@WBEZ</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/meyerson" target="_blank">@Meyerson</a>.<br />* Looking for the most recent WBEZ Meyerson News Quiz? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/news-quiz" target="_blank">Here you go</a>.</em></span></p></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/app-will-help-parents-kids-map-routes-new-schools-106278 Bears and Urlacher part ways http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-03/bears-and-urlacher-part-ways-106198 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_brian_urlacher-seattle.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There should be no surprise that the Bears and Brian Urlacher parted ways, it is unfortunate that it had to come about this way.&nbsp; The Bears released the news Wednesday evening; the decision was made by General Manager Phil Emery.</p><p><em>&ldquo;We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,&rdquo; Bears General Manager Phil Emery said. &ldquo;Brian has been an elite player in our league for over a decade. He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears.&rdquo;</em></p><p>Urlacher was the Bears number one draft pick in 2000. (9th overall) He was a safety from the University of New Mexico, but his conversion to middle linebacker put him on a path to become an eight-time Pro-Bowler and a future Hall of Famer. He flourished under former Bear head coach Lovie Smith&rsquo;s Tampa-2, utilizing his speed and quickness. Urlacher was a leader on and off the field for the Bears. His play-calling on defense was credited for the team&rsquo;s success during his thirteen years in Chicago.</p><p>Urlacher sustained a severe knee injury during the final game of the 2011 season. This past season he missed all of training camp, though he was able to start the first 12 games of the season. Urlacher intercepted Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown in week 9, but in week 13 he injured his hamstring against Seattle and was sideline for what would be the final games of his Chicago career.</p><p>Urlacher leaves the Bears as the all-team franchise leader in tackles with 1, 779. His 22 career interceptions are two behind Dick Butkus for Bear linebackers. He started 180 games as a Bear, which is third behind Walter Payton and Olin Kreutz.</p><p>The loss of Nick Roach to free agency and the inability to reach a deal with Urlacher leaves only Lance Briggs as a starting linebacker for the Bears.&nbsp;</p><p>With the NFL salary cap making such an impact on team rosters, it is difficult for teams to retain older players, like Brian Urlacher. With his 35<sup>th</sup> birthday in May and his physical abilities seemingly diminished, the new Bear regime could not offer a contract that would satisfy the now former &ldquo;Face of the Franchise.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 20 Mar 2013 19:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-03/bears-and-urlacher-part-ways-106198 New faces shine on Bears' coaching staff http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/new-faces-shine-bears-coaching-staff-105553 <p><p>It&#39;s been nine years since the Bears had this much upheaval with its coaching staff. Last week, new head coach Marc Trestman made the new staff available to the media for the first time since they were hired.&nbsp;Here are some of highlights from the session:</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_marc_trestman_jim_prisching.jpg" style="float: left; height: 445px; width: 300px;" title="Bears head coach Marc Trestman has assembled his staff. Now the work begins. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)" />Trestman&#39;s main buzz word is <strong>teaching</strong>. Like a newly-assembled band, some of these coaches have worked together before, but others are still trying to blend their talents.&nbsp;A wide receiver coach is the only vacancy.</p><p>Since the majority of&nbsp;staff has been together just a few weeks, <strong>getting the play book</strong>, not evaluating players, has been the focus.&nbsp;</p><p>Quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh briefly spoke of his main pupil, Jay Cutler. Explaining why he has not yet evaluated the Bears&#39; quarterback, Cavanaugh said, &quot;It&rsquo;s not fair not to get to know the person, not to get to work with him personally and base everything from film.&quot; But Cavanaugh has worked with Trestman in the past, and said they are on the same page with most of the offensive schemes.</p><p>Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker may have the most difficult job ahead. But he&#39;s confident that once players see the plan they will be on the same page. Tucker also stated there are <strong>no plans to change the Bears defense </strong>from a 4-3 to a 3-4.</p><p>Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer has a tough job ahead. He wants &ldquo;five guys that can play together with a couple of back-ups&rdquo; on the line. There were no specifics about the players he has to work with from the present roster, but the new coach said he will work them out to&nbsp;find&nbsp;their attributes. As a whole, they&#39;ll use <strong>an attacking style offense</strong>&nbsp;with multiple formations and quick passing. Kromer likes to use the tight end in this offense. Of course, they need to find one first to make it work. . . .</p><p>Assistant line coach Pat Meyer may be new to the Bears, but not to Marc Trestman: They worked together in Montreal and at NC State. Meyer talked about what to expect from the new Bears coach. &ldquo;He is going to be very player-friendly, [and] he is very intelligent &ndash; smart with schemes for both pass and run,&quot; Meyer said. &quot;[Trestman&#39;s] &nbsp;excited and likes to bring emotion to the game.&rdquo; Meyer also said Trestman likes to have his staff &ldquo;share their knowledge.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, former Bear Chris Harris is starting his transition from the playing field to coaching staff. Trestman was impressed that Harris was willing to start at the bottom rung in defensive quality control. He will be spending plenty of time at a computer rather than hitting a receiver. There is still no clear picture of Brian Urlacher&rsquo;s status; he&#39;s talked with Trestman but that&#39;s the extent of it.</p><p>Next up: In a few days, the Bears staff will travel to Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine. There&#39;s still a lot of work to do in the weeks and months to come.</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>.</em></p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/new-faces-shine-bears-coaching-staff-105553 Sportsmanship spelled out in a sign http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/sportsmanship-spelled-out-sign-105404 <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_he_sign2.jpg" style="width: 350px; float: right; height: 467px" title="Hoffman Estates Park District spells out sportsmanship. (Cheryl Raye-Stout)" />Have you ever watched a kid&rsquo;s game and been totally embarrassed by another adult&#39;s antics? Or maybe you got caught up and were out of control?&nbsp; Some coaches will address the adults; some coaches are the guilty party. Most people agree that it has gotten out of hand.</div><p>My son plays in a Saturday soccer league for fun. It is not a club or travel league, it is really just to play the game. The arena has the players on a surface below and the stands for viewing are above the field.&nbsp; A few weeks ago, an adult was perched over a railing hurling insults at the referee. It was incessant and unwarranted. At one point the on-looker said, &quot;Where&#39;s the whistle?&quot; The ref didn&#39;t look up, just raised his whistle in his hand and said, &quot;Right here.&quot; You would think the heckling would have stopped. It didn&#39;t.</p><p>A few days later on Facebook, I came across a picture taken of a sign that had instructions on behavior for the on-lookers at a hockey rink. The photo didn&#39;t have a location, but it does now. The <a href="http://www.heparks.org/">Hoffman Estates Park District</a> Ice Rink has the sign that has gone viral. The man behind the sign is Jeff Doschadis, General Manager of Ice Operations. Here is what the blue sign with white lettering says:</p><p style="margin-left: 135pt"><strong>Please remember</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 135pt"><strong>1. These are kids.</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 135pt"><strong>2. This is a game.</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 135pt"><strong>3. Parents should cheer for everyone.</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 135pt"><strong>4. The referees are human.</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 135pt"><strong>5. You and your child do not play for the Blackhawks.</strong></p><p style="margin-left: 135pt"><strong>If you don&#39;t understand this, please contact the ice dept. at (847) 781-3632. We would be happy to explain it to you.</strong></p><p>Jeff doesn&rsquo;t take credit for the origins of this sign, he saw it at another venue, but his sign has caught the attention across the United States and in other countries.</p><p>The Hoffman Estates Park District has an anti-bullying campaign and this is an extension of their policy. The sign was put up in September when there was a tournament with teams in the U.S.A. and Europe playing at the arena.</p><p>However, last month pictures and news about this sign spread. There wasn&rsquo;t anything out of the &ldquo;norm&rdquo; happening in Hoffman Estates.</p><p>&ldquo;As a Park District, we have seen our share of things happening involving kids, parents and referees, not just hockey, baseball, soccer any youth sports,&rdquo; Jeff said. &ldquo;It happens thoughout Chicagoland, the nation and worldwide.&rdquo;</p><p>This sign must have resonated with other parents and leagues. They have contacted Doschadis throughout the US, Vancouver, Winnipeg, even London and New Zealand. Some want to copy the sign for their own use.</p><p>When I asked Jeff if this is a bit sad, that a sign has to point out the obvious in youth sports participation, he didn&rsquo;t think so and added, &ldquo;Anything that can bring pause, make someone think about is not a bad thing.&rdquo;</p><p>Right now it is located at the two entrances to the ice rink. One line&nbsp;reminds everyone the kids are not the Blackhawks. In fact, the NHL has sent this information about the sign to all their teams, since they sponsor youth leagues. Jeff has received gratitude from officials of the Illinois Youth Hockey League, mainly for sticking up for the referees. Doschadis pointed out that most of the refs are just kids themselves, ranging from 14-16 years old. They have a lot to deal with officiating a game, let alone a belligerent parent or player.</p><p>It was compelling to me that Jeff would post the phone number, just in case someone doesn&rsquo;t get it. You know people know it is wrong, but this was putting a contact number to almost challenge the reader. There has not been one negative response, everyone knows what they are supposed to do&mdash;they sign is an effective reminder. When spring arrives, Jeff will post signs at the other park districts sporting locations,</p><p>&ldquo;Anything that would allow a parent, kid, official a moment of clarity at a youth (and high school) event and remember why they are there,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame </a></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 08 Feb 2013 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/sportsmanship-spelled-out-sign-105404 Can the Bears make it to the Super Bowl in 2014? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/can-bears-make-it-super-bowl-2014-105293 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rsz_1lombardi_trophy Michael Conroy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Bears new head coach Marc Trestman is on the clock&mdash;he and GM Phil Emery have a year to get the Bears prepared for the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands.</p><p>Can they do it?</p><p>It seems like a tall order, but Chicago Bear fans are restless since it has been twenty seven years since they have tasted victory. Fans have watched the New York Giants win it four times, Dallas three and New England has grabbed three Super Bowls. The Packers have two Vince Lombardi trophies. Last night they saw Baltimore capture it for a second time. Runner-up San Francisco has won four since Mike Ditka and the Bears beat New England for their only Super Bowl win. And the window of opportunity is closing with several players on defense. So what does Trestman and to a larger extent Phil Emery have to do between now and next February? There are more questions than answers at this point</p><p>-They need all sorts of help on the offensive line; it has been a patchwork quilt the way it was assembled the past few years. Have you ever bought your child a Lego set with 400 pieces and lose the instructions? That is how this unit of the Bears seems to be at this point. They have to make decisions on&nbsp; injured guard&nbsp;Lance Louis (free agent), he is their most athletic lineman. Is Gabe Carimi healthy and strong enough to play right tackle? Is Roberto Garza the answer at center or should he move back to guard? Let&#39;s not talk about J&#39;Marcus Webb, there has been way too much effort and attention paid to a player that handled the most difficult and demanding position on the line-and he just isn&#39;t good enough. I can go on and on about this problem, but the Bears have to solve it with the draft and free agency.</p><p>-In order to take on the next bit of business, Jay Cutler, the first area has to be addressed. Cutler has one year left on his contract, he has dealt with so many offensive coordinators and schemes the change will be entertaining to say the least. While Phil Emery calls him a &quot;franchise&quot; quarterback, that was not a label his new coach has given Cutler. Is it a ploy to spur the Bears quarterback or is it the real belief by the new coach? Sometimes when someone is the smartest person in the room (Jay Cutler), you need someone smarter to have the upper hand (Marc Trestman). One of the biggest problems for&nbsp; the Bears has been time management. How many times did we see the Bears QB call a time out due to poor communication? It was apparent that play calling was a big problem and Trestman will be handling that chore. If Jay Cutler could guide the Bears to a Super Bowl win, he would own this town the rest of his life. If he wants proof, just ask anyone from the &rsquo;85 team.&nbsp;</p><p>-The Bears defense did a great job last season, they were ranked at least in the top 10 in all the defensive categories. However, they are getting long in the tooth and Bears management has a difficult decision to make-what to do with free-agent linebacker Brian Urlacher? His age, his injury issues and what direction the team is going to take with new coordinator Mel Tucker will all weigh in with GM Phil Emery&rsquo;s decision.</p><p>Some other key defensemen that are free agents include, All Pro Henry Melton, Israel Idonjie, Nick Roach, Kelvin Hayden, Geno Hayes, DJ Moore and Nate Collins.</p><p>It may be disconcerting that with two starting&nbsp;linebackers and a back-up in that position someone could leave via free agency, but 26-year-old Melton&rsquo;s loss would be a bigger pill to swallow as his play has progressed on the defensive line.</p><p>-There are twenty free agents (two restricted) and the defensive players previously mentioned will have to be sorted out by Emery in March. Following that free agency period,&nbsp;the NFL draft will be&nbsp;April 25<sup>th</sup>-27<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;and the Bears have the 20<sup>th</sup> selection in the first round.</p><p>Last year Emery made a huge acquisition when he dealt a pair of third round picks for All Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall-it is easy to say that paid off.</p><p>-What to do with some of the current Bears? Already mentioned Brian Urlacher, but will Devin Hester return? Starting tight end Kellen Davis (that should be a no)? And does free agent Jason Campbell merit a return to back up Cutler?</p><p>&nbsp;Can the Bears make the Super Bowl next year? You straighten out the offensive line, get a tight end, change a poor offense, get the most out of an aging defense, stay healthy and have a team learn to play under a new coaching staff-with a first time NFL head coach--- possibly.</p><p>&nbsp;Circle next February&nbsp;2nd for the Super Bowl, that should be what the Bears are targeting. We&rsquo;ll see.</p><p>&nbsp;Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></p></p> Mon, 04 Feb 2013 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/can-bears-make-it-super-bowl-2014-105293 A pre-Harbaugh Super Bowl family affair http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-01/pre-harbaugh-super-bowl-family-affair-105231 <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/2007%20bears%20Super%20Bowl%20rsz.jpg" style="width: 300px; float: right; height: 231px" title="When the Bears played in Super Bowl XLV it was a conflict for former Bear Emery Moorehead. (AP Photo)" />Between the snacks, the office pools and the Super Bowl ads, there is a game to be played on Sunday. One of the biggest storylines this week has been about one family.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">San Francisco head coach (and former Bear quarterback) Jim Harbaugh and his 49ers will face his older brother, John Harbaugh and his Baltimore Ravens.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">This is a first time in NFL history brothers are in these roles and the dilemma for their parents Jack and Jackie Harbaugh is whether to choose sides.</div><p>There was a Chicago story that had a similar complexity when the Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl six years ago.&nbsp;</p><p>The Colts had a young wide receiver Aaron Moorehead and his father, Emery an Evanston native was a member of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Bears. Aaron grew up in the Chicago-area, played ball at Deerfield High School and went to the University of Illinois. He was a Bear fan and can still remember as a kindergartener the experience of Super Bowl XX, &quot;You remember it being a very big deal,&rdquo; said Aaron.</p><p>According to his dad, his son was very popular with his young classmates. It was touching to learn that Aaron&rsquo;s class had made a paper mache bowl and the students filled it with &ldquo;good luck&rdquo; notes for the Bears tight end-- Emery still has it.</p><p>For Aaron, his childhood was filled with the legendary players from that Bear team that taught him life lessons, &quot;My goals are never unreachable and no moment was too big for me&mdash;these guys were it.&rdquo; He maintains friendships with some of the player&rsquo;s children.</p><p>The Bears-- a team that was a huge factor in this family would play a different role for the younger Moorehead-- as an opponent. As an undrafted wide receiver from Illinois, he was signed by Indianapolis in 2003. His dad said Aaron cemented his roster spot by having a good pre-season game---against the Bears.</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_super_bowl_1-27-1986.jpg" style="width: 250px; float: left; height: 167px" title="Emery Moorehead stand to the right of Coach Ditka Super Bowl XX. (AP Photo/Jeff Robbins)" />The real glory would come in Miami when the Colts and Bears meet for the Super Bowl XLV. Here was a kid that grew up as a Bear fan, his dad was a Bear and all of his friends loved the Bears. &ldquo;It was a conflict for me-none of my friends rooted for me,&rdquo; says Aaron, &ldquo;The one chance I get to go to the Super Bowl it is against the team rooted for my entire life.&rdquo; Both Mooreheads enjoyed the week before the Super Bowl, Aaron said his father advised him to refrain from partying before the game, but enjoy the experience. They had dinner on Friday&nbsp;and Aaron sort of felt his Dad was sitting on the fence and told him he had to choose a team. Emery did, but it had to be difficult, &ldquo;Playing the Bears splits your feelings; you always pull for your family.&rdquo; &nbsp;The outcome was great for Aaron; he had five catches for 41 yards in the 29-17 win for Indianapolis. While his former team lost the game, Emery thought they would have more opportunities for the Bears&nbsp;to return to the title game&mdash;of course it has not happened.</div><p>After the Super Bowl, the elder Moorehead said it was &ldquo;very emotion and very draining.&rdquo; He added it is very hard to watch and not be able to help his son.</p><p>Schedules make it difficult for Emery to spend time with his son during the Super Bowl, Aaron landed a new job as the wide receiver coach for Virginia Tech and has to recruit players. Nice that he has Super Bowl credentials talking to players.</p><p>Emery and Aaron know Sunday will have a difficult time for the Harbaugh family cheering during this game (you can bet the TV cameras will be focused on them).&nbsp;The Mooreheads are familiar with this close-knit family; Aaron was one of Jim&rsquo;s assistants at Stanford. Emery&nbsp; was Jim&#39;s former teammate, &ldquo;I can only imagine the stress for the family, you can&rsquo;t pick a side, you love them equally.&rdquo; At least for the Mooreheads it was family and a team, not choosing between family members. They did make history of their own, they were the first father and son duo to become Super Bowl winners. Unfortunately, for the Harbaugh family, there will be one winner and one loser.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame </a></p></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-01/pre-harbaugh-super-bowl-family-affair-105231 Super Bowl will have a reporter turned fan next Sunday http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-01/super-bowl-will-have-reporter-turned-fan-next-sunday-105137 <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_jim_harbaugh_and_mike_ditka_1989.jpg" style="width: 350px; float: right; height: 246px" title="Former Bear Jim Harbaugh and Mike Ditka during his Chicago playing days. (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)" />After decades of covering sports teams, players and coaches, you may have an opinion or feelings about someone not based on their accomplishments or the team they represent.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But as a reporter you do your best to remain objective and neutral.</div><p>As the hype for the Super Bowl builds to a fever pitch, there is someone that this reporter is rooting for - San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh.</p><p>It is not because he was a former number one draft pick of the Bears. It is because of a simple act of kindness he showed me.</p><p>Several years ago there were very few women covering sports teams in Chicago. Jeanne Morris for television, Linda Kaye for the Chicago Tribune and me for WMAQ radio. Neither Jeanne nor Linda were going into the teams&#39; locker rooms. Chicago locker rooms were a territory just beginning to open up to women reporters.</p><p>I was beginning that obstacle alone and meeting some challenges along the way during the early to mid-&#39;80s.</p><p>The Bears were a huge challenge. There was no interference after games when I started covering them at Soldier Field in 1985.</p><p>I had entered the baseball and NBA locker rooms with some resistance, in previous years, but I learned football would be the more difficult.</p><p>The problem happened during the practices the week before games.</p><p>My role at the station changed and I was sent to cover the team during the week for their &ldquo;open&rdquo; locker room time. On Wednesdays and Thursdays the players were made available to talk to reporters before practice. This was the season following the Bears Super Bowl victory, which I did cover in New Orleans.</p><p>During training camp I ventured to Platteville, Wis. to cover the Bears without any incidents. There were no locker room interviews; it was done on the field or during lunch. So when my News Director Tom Webb told me to go to Halas Hall I wasn&rsquo;t concerned. I should have been.</p><p>My only concerns during the drive up to Lake Forest were to think about the match-ups of the upcoming game and who would be a good subject to talk to get a good story. I was trying to fit in without any fanfare, without being noticed and without any trouble.</p><p>The media relations person at Halas Hall announced that the locker room was open. There was a group of reporters, (very small compared to the numbers now) and I walked in the middle of the group. That is when I was greeted by angry, hurtful words and loud obnoxious screams. It was evident it was directed at me and the reporters all stepped away as I took the abuse. At that point, the Bears media person told me I had to leave and would not have access.</p><p>I walked out the door unsure as to what had just happened. I controlled my anger as the realization set in.</p><p>Remember the Bears were the darlings of the sports world, and I was an unwelcome intruder who had to figure out what to do next. No one wanted to come to my rescue. I had to find a different way of doing my job. From that point on, I would go up to Halas Hall and sit outside the locker room on the floor waiting for players to come talk to me. It singled me out, which was something I was trying to avoid.</p><p>The problem for me was that the players had already talked with other reporters, and some didn&rsquo;t want to do it again or perhaps they didn&rsquo;t want to talk to a woman.</p><p>There were no problems after games. As a reporter, you are part of a large group surrounding a player and you can go undetected even if you ask a question. The players are still in a zone from just getting off the field. So the routine became, cover the games and go to Halas Hall and sit on a floor and wait for players.</p><p>The Bears drafted Jim Harbaugh, a young quarterback out of the University of Michigan, during the 1987 season. A few weeks into the season I asked to talk to Jim as I sat on the floor. The media person went into the locker room and brought the rookie out for me. Jim looked at me and then said to the media person, &ldquo;Why can&rsquo;t she go in the locker room like she does after games?&rdquo;</p><p>He wasn&#39;t kidding. Jim had the firm look he shows now as&nbsp;San Francisco&#39;s coach.&nbsp;There was no answer that would be satisfactory to Harbaugh. There was more to the conversation, but for me, his first words were the most relevant.</p><p>Until that point, no one else had even challenged or really cared about my situation. Jim and I talked, and we walked into the locker room. There were no angry voices, there were no insults. (Now there was no red carpet or rose petals thrown either.) At times there were some other incidents, but this was a huge change at Halas Hall.</p><p>The funny thing, which Jim probably didn&rsquo;t realize it at the time and may not remember now, is that years later when he went to play for the Indianapolis Colts, I wrote him a thank you note. He had said something that was important for any woman in sports. It was just a simple act of kindness that altered a really tough situation. Maybe it would have changed a different way or with a different person, but for me, it changed because of Jim.</p><p>Next Sunday I will take off my reporter&rsquo;s hat and become a fan and root for the Niners. All female sports reporters should too.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></p></p> Mon, 28 Jan 2013 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-01/super-bowl-will-have-reporter-turned-fan-next-sunday-105137