WBEZ | Julius Peppers http://www.wbez.org/tags/julius-peppers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Life is back to normal: Bears pummel Lions (and other observations) http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-11-13/life-back-normal-bears-pummel-lions-and-other-observations-94009 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-13/AP111113069269.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-13/AP111113069269.jpg" title="DJ takin on the whole team!!! A little help? (AP)" width="512" height="368"></p><p>The Detroit Lions have always been division foes. But more like the Milwaukee Bucks rather than the Detroit Pistons. More like the Houston Astros than the St. Louis Cardinals. But what the Lions lack in football skill, they make up for in just being dirty. And dirty is a great way to start a rivalry. See, we dislike the Packers because they once took cheap shots at our stars. Once winning is out of the question, they turn to chop blocks and unnecessary roughness. Which brings me to my point:</p><p>You gotta love the Bears for not backing down. It would have been easy to let the Lions physically pout for playing crappy football. But after Jay Cutler was driven into the turf, the Bears defense found something to play for. Crossing route to Megatron? Briggs was there (and cleanly). If Stafford tries to behead a player out of frustration, that player (DJ Moore) teaches him a thing about the NFL. See, Detroit: We can play that way, too. We just wait to play that way when we have already won, not while we are losing...badly.</p><p>But all is right in the world. The Lions looked overmatched. They tried and tried, throwing the ball to the wrong team over and over. In a world where we teeter on the brink of financial collapse and evil, the Lions took one for the team and sucked liked they are supposed to. And we thank you for that.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-13/AP111113053065.jpg" title="Even the Soldier Field goal posts are shoddy? What gives?? Time for a new stadium (AP) " width="357" height="512"></p><p>Here are some other random observations from the Bears' beat down of the hapless Lions:</p><ul><li>I speak for every Bear fan when I say to Fox, "Turn the Saints/Falcons game off and start our game on time." We didn't miss any action, but we were sent to the game while Urlacher was giving a pre-game speech. I don't mind missing that, but what I do mind is that it seemed like we were late because Fox had to drop in 40 commercials after they left Atlanta. So the game was on time, but Fox wanted to get paid first.</li><li>This win will keep the Bears in the playoff equation until mid-December. The next five games: Chargers, Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks, then Packers on Christmas. There's a chance that game might mean something. Woah.</li><li>Charles Tillman treated Calvin Johnson to a retro day. Remember when Tillman used to shut down Roy Williams, Randy Moss and other Goliath WRs in the NFC North? Perhaps Peanut has returned to his ways.</li><li>Paging Roy Williams: Don't you have any pride? Don't you want to beat the Lions who gave up on you? Dropping passes and cutting off routes are weird ways of showing that passion.</li><li>The halftime break for local news is unnecessary. They just show highlights of the football we just saw highlights of.</li><li>The Bears had four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Although the real stat was how many interception drops the Bears had. I'll bet the Bears defenders had their hands on (at least) five more Stafford passes. Maybe Stafford has an aversion to the color orange. And speaking of the color orange, we're not Denver. Bring back the blue for the rest of the year, please.</li><li>Matt Stafford was pretty awful. Like, Rex Grossman awful. Like, Jay Cutler awful. Like, Chicago Bear quarterback awful. This is the guy who is going to take Detroit to the playoffs? I have a feeling that isn't going to happen. Mark my words, Detroit will not be in the playoffs.</li><li>Conspiracy theory of the week: Maybe Devin Hester wasn't hurt all week and the Bears just faked it so the Lions would punt to him? Because when I get an ankle sprain, I don't outrun professional athletes for 70 yard touchdowns. I just complain and limp. Complain and limp.</li><li>Ninety-nine percent of the NFL do not count on punt return touchdowns as offense. If they get one, it's a nice addition. But with the Bears, Hester is as important as a good running back. We are very spoiled in Chicago. When Hester leaves or his skills diminish, we will have a very empty feeling every time the back up cornerback attempts to return a punt. It will be a depressing age in Chicago. He's gotta go to the football hall of fame, right?&nbsp;</li><li>Fantasy update: Bears defense probably broke a record for points. Where Calvin Johnson and Jay Cutler probably cost their owners victories. Cutler had 123 yards and no touchdowns. Yikes, that's bad. Bad enough for a 37-13 win.</li><li>I love DJ Moore's haircut. But if you get ejected from a game in Chicago, you have to get rid of your shirt too, Rodman style. That's the only way in the Chi, right?</li></ul><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-13/AP111113069194.jpg" title="" width="512" height="366"></p><p>I think I've said this before, but isn't Julius Peppers the best?</p><p>Again, poll: Who would you take first?</p><p>Matthews (Packers), Allen (Vikings), Suh (Lions) or Peppers (Bears). I gotta say Peppers.</p><p>And, who would you take last?</p><p>Stafford (Lions), Williams (Bears), Berrian (Vikings, although waived) or AJ Hawk (Packers). I'd (not) take Williams.</p><p>Chargers are next. Rivers vs. Cutler. Remember when they used to jaw each other when Jay was in Denver? Could be fun.</p></p> Mon, 14 Nov 2011 01:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-11-13/life-back-normal-bears-pummel-lions-and-other-observations-94009 Congrats to the Chicago Bears organization. You've won back a fan. http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-11-08/congrats-chicago-bears-organization-youve-won-back-fan-93848 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/AP111107038551.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/AP111107038551.jpg" title="Marion Barber uses his hair to gain extra yards (AP) " width="512" height="430"></p><p>The Chicago Bears assumed the familiar role of "us against the world" last night and defeated Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles played well but the Bears played better.&nbsp;</p><p>It was a gamer game -&nbsp; the kind of game we're accustomed to seeing from the Pittsburgh Steelers or New England Patriots. And the Bears responded. No miscommunication on the offense. No blown assignments on the defense. An actual comeback in the second half?!!! And poise under pressure from a certain QB who Chicago loves to hate. All this, on the road.&nbsp; It's a good morning, Chicago. Don't even care if it is raining.</p><p>This is how it is supposed to be. This is how it was drawn up from the beginning.</p><p>Make no mistake about it, the Philadelphia Eagles are good. They have an outstanding QB and a terrific running back. They play at a very high level. So that's why this win is sweeter than most (not to mention that the Eagles were heavily favored). It is also sweeter because Cutler, Peppers, Urlacher, Briggs and even fumble-fingers Matt Forte played ball on national television. And if you read this Bears rant regularly, that's all I ever want.</p><p>Congrats to the Bears organization. You've won back a fan. Just in time for the holidays. Which probably was your plan all along. The Bears play well in November, forcing fans to spend loot on merchandise. Great conspiracy theory, eh?</p><p>And I have to give big ups to Bears head coach Lovie Smith. The Bears are 5-3 and currently in wild card contention. They've also rattled off three wins in a row. NFL fans, take note.</p><p><strong>Here are some other random observations</strong>:</p><p>This is how the Eagles came out of the tunnel:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/AP111107138070.jpg" title="C'mon. We can all agree that this is pretty dumb? (AP) " width="512" height="341"></p><p>The conversation in the City Room this morning is delightfully positive. "We can beat the Lions. We can beat the Chiefs. The Broncos? Give me a break. The Packers on Christmas? Done. RUN THE TABLE!!!! WE ARE GOING ALL THE WAAAAY!!!!!!!" Then Tony Sarabia smashed a window and it got weird.</p><p>Either Peppers is a huge drama queen or he is the toughest man on earth. How many times does a football player hurt his knee (twisted back under a pile) and return four plays later? Usually when a defensive lineman has a knee injury, he's out for like, two years. This guy is unbelievable. Or he is faking. Regardless, I think Julius Peppers is the best defensive lineman in football.</p><p>John Gruden said that Lovie Smith dresses more defensive backs than any other team in football. He said it was for special teams. Is that true? Can someone fact-check this? Not me, I'm busy fixing the window Sarabia broke.</p><p>Towards the end of the game, Xfinity was selling those local commercials like crazy. Doesn't it seem like every other local commercial is for a business in Willowbrook?</p><p>Is it me or does Roy Williams look awkward out on the field? I don't know if it's the way he wears his pads or helmet, but something is off. It's like his neck is too tall or something. Maybe the Bears have only one set of pads left, and they used to belong to Bobby Engram. And now Williams has to wear them.</p><p>Devin Hester was neutralized and the Bears won without him. Cut him and bring back RW McQuarters. Right? Am I right Chicago?</p><p>You know what I would like to see less of? This:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/AP111107138773.jpg" title="C'mon coach! (AP) " width="341" height="512"></p><p>Let's do a quick poll. This poll is for the coaches. Which Bear should run extra laps at practice this week?</p><ul><li>Matt Forte (2 fumbles, one resulted in Eagles TD)</li><li>Roy Williams (couple catches, but dropped huge bomb)</li><li>Major Wright (interception, but faked out of shorts down by goal line)</li></ul><p>And let's do a positive poll: Who should get a free can of soda from the vending machine?</p><ul><li>Jay Cutler (this is what we paid for, eh?)</li><li>Brian Urlacher (his pursuit and energy was just plain awesome)</li><li>Lance Briggs (loves playing against Vick)</li><li>Julius Peppers (hurt, comes back, chases Vick all over field)</li><li>Earl Bennett (look, a WR sighting!!!)</li><li>Matt Forte (even with fumbles, put together 130 yards)</li></ul></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 14:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-11-08/congrats-chicago-bears-organization-youve-won-back-fan-93848 The Bears are 4-3. Which, according to the players and coaches, is exactly where they want to be? http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-10-24/bears-are-4-3-which-according-players-and-coaches-exactly-where-they <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-24/AP111023095024.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="349" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-24/AP111023095024.jpg" title="Look at those choppers! (AP/London)" width="512"></p><p>So the Bears are now 4-3. The rhetoric in the locker room yesterday was that this record is identical to last year's team - and look how that turned out. I hate to be the guy who says it, but wasn't the plan to be better than last year? 4-3 is fine for an upstart, but for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations, 4-3 seems to be a bit of a letdown. Maybe they can run the table and end 13-3. Maybe lose a few and still make the playoffs. But make no mistake: this team has yet to impress us. The last two games have shown glimpses of what we expected this year, but the Jekyll and Hyde Bears still have work to do.</p><p>Chicago is not a 'slow-start' town. Fans respect when teams come out of the gates blazing. We jump on quick and ride the train. We don't have a lot of patience for a .500 performance at the break. We are spoiled.&nbsp; Blame it on Ditka and Jordan, I guess.</p><p><strong>Here are some other random observations from yesterday's game: </strong></p><p>I had a technical snafu yesterday. Set my DVR for the game and made sure to have the ole' extended play cover if the game went past it's alotted time on the Comcast grid. Well, the game did and the DVR didn't. So with about 5 min to play, the game ended for me. Luckily, I was able to catch highlights, but that was a very depressing moment. So I've asked my colleague Kate Dries to sum up the ending, since she watched the Bears for the first time this season (and quite possibly, in her life):</p><blockquote><p>"Um, they won and it was really close and everyone was upset because it wasn't by a lot. "</p></blockquote><p>Well said.</p><p>I watched most of the game in fast forward. Here's what it looked like:</p><p>Two national anthems, Jay Cutler found the British one amusing; <em>Tower Heist </em>is coming out; Ford Trucks; Fox robot was all over the place; game was played at night; Moose had a drab suit on; Siragusa put on a top hat; Mike Martz threw down his pencil; Tampa had, like, 30 injuries; Budweiser; Roger Goodell was in the booth; Bud Light; new TV shows; Briggs played cricket; and a knight dressed like a Raiders fan. Did I miss anything?</p><p>Oh, London! The game was played in London! I loved the Fox approach to show as many goofy, British fans as possible. The 'Ha! They wish they knew how to be fans of this sport' camera shots were funny initially, boring later, annoying at last. If they wanted to give us a good feel for a game in London, they should have played local British commercials. Or <em>Fawlty Towers</em> at halftime.&nbsp;</p><p>Is there an Occupy London? If I were Occupy London, I would have been all over this NFL game. Maybe they were and Fox just didn't show it. Personally, I was expecting much more hooliganism from the crowd. So imagine my surprise when I found this AP picture this morning.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="271" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-24/AP111023048577.jpg" title="" width="512"></p><p>Fox just didn't show it. Run, dude run! Also, here's a picture of the pre-game festivities, featuring the great British band, the Goo-Goo Dolls.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="285" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-24/AP111023043107.jpg" title="" width="512"></p><p>Seriously? The Verve wasn't available? What about Coldplay? We'd even take The Proclaimers over the Goo-Goo Dolls.</p><p>Did I hear Coach Lovie actually say "We're a good football team" in his post-game press conference? I wonder if he has any thought in his head when he says that. Does he think "Oh boy, I shouldn't say that again. I say that too much. Every year. Don't say 'Rex is our quarterback...don't say Rex is our quarterback..."</p><p>Wow, it's starting to be very apparent: If the Bears D-line plays well, the Bears win. Julius Peppers is a beast. Not a bad showing for the offensive line, either. They are run blockers.</p><p>Also, this would be a good week to pay Matt Forte. Here's my rationale:</p><p>If you pay him now, you will definitely have to pay top dollar. If he gets hurt in the next nine games, you will still have to pay him top dollar (unless it is career ending). One of the reasons for not paying him might be motivation. If he is seeking a contract, he will play better. But in this case, Forte might actually be seeking historic numbers. He's within reach of 2,000 yards. So money is less of a motivating factor. And frankly, the Bears organization is taking a black eye over this. Every week, it's a storyline. So for Angelo to continue to say "We don't want a contract distraction during the season" is kind of bogus.</p><p>Also, it's a bye week. You don't have to worry about distractions.</p><p>You know who I like? Chris Conte. Maybe it's the weird arm tattoo. But I like his style. He roughed up Kellen Winslow a bit after Winslow beat him for a touchdown. At first, it looked like Winslow was overreacting, but when you saw the replay, Conte just took a nice, petite cheap shot after the play was over. You like that in your safety.</p><p>Do you feel like Urlacher and Briggs are household characters? Fox seems to seek them out whenever they are together on the sideline or doing off-field antics. Are they the real face of the Chicago Bears? Whenever one of them makes a play, the other defenders go crazy congratulating them (especially Briggs after the interception). I ran into a NY Jets fan on Staten Island a few weeks back and he said to me, "Hey, Bears fan, eh? They are brutal. Love the defense though. Better pay Forte." So I guess that's sort of what this team is? Brutal, defensive and cheap?</p><p>So a week off. Then? Michael Vick and the Eagles. Yep, the playoff push begins. The Bears have the Eagles, Lions, Vikings, Packers, Seahawks and the AFC West left to play. Not bad.</p></p> Mon, 24 Oct 2011 13:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-10-24/bears-are-4-3-which-according-players-and-coaches-exactly-where-they Poor Pat Quinn: Are you ready for your legacy? http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-06-01/poor-pat-quinn-are-you-ready-your-legacy-87275 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-01/AP110318141204.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Yay. New budget. Yay. New casino in Chicago. Yay. Quinn has 60 days to slow this story to a crawl, giving more and more media outlets the chance to speculate on what is next. Yay.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="436" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-01/AP110318141204.jpg" title="" width="512"></p><p>Poor Pat Quinn. Remember when his job was all about walking across the state to raise awareness for health care? Or telling us the dangers of household cleaners?</p><p>The one-time liberal crusader is now faced with the unthinkable: Approving a casino in Chicago. And not to mention approving a budget that will short-change education and social services. All that adds up to a legacy, gov'nor. It will definitely be historic and will tie Governor Quinn's name to gambling forever. All this while his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/blagojevich-denies-he-used-state-action-force-donations-87173">former boss tells his life story</a> in Chicago.</p><p>And did you see this <a href="http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/news/local/chibrknews-chicago-casino-bill-advances-in-senate-20110531,0,891826.story">front page picture of State Senator Terry Link</a>?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="225" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-01/trib-link.jpg" title="" width="400"></p><p style="text-align: center;">"YES. YESSSSS. YESSSSSS!!!!! YESSSSSSSSSS VICTORY IS OURS!!!!! YESSSS, NOW LET"S DESTROY THE JEDI KNIGHTS!!!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS."</p><p><strong>B story</strong>: <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-daley-joining-big-chicago-law-firm-20110601,0,5866658.story">Daley joined a law firm</a>. Not just any law firm, but the law firm that brokered the infamous parking meter deal. C'mon Rich. Seriously? Were you that hard up for work that you took the only offer on the table? This does nothing for your reputation.</p><p>But this is the way of the world of Chicago politics. Once you serve the public, you serve the corporations who want to benefit from the public. Daley says he won't have anything to do with city contracts, but that certainly woulnd't stop him from saying to colleagues, "Oh, that contract? Yeah, just call my buddy Jimmy..."</p><p><strong>C story</strong>: It's sort of like when an employer cuts a bunch of jobs and then when the economy turns around, they still don't fill those jobs. That's what it's like, <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/5700733-417/chicago-cancels-july-4-fireworks-leaves-shows-to-navy-pier.html">these 4th of July fireworks</a>. You are ruining the sacred ritual of drunk teenagers who come out in the cover of darkness to watch pretty fire.</p><p>Who wins? Lollapalooza. They get the runoff of drunk teens, looking for that one summer trip on the Metra.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Weather</strong>: I missed the news cycle on Monday, but caught up with <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/05/31/emanuel-heat-related-illness-forced-north-avenue-beach-shutdown/">Emanuel's presser about the closing of North Avenue Beach on Memorial Day</a>. Too much heat, he said. The Tribune has an <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/videobeta/d140e6f1-9168-43e0-aafa-3a0c26d8a692/News/North-Avenue-Beach-The-morning-after">awesome next morning video</a>, right out of a zombie movie. But in the end, was the unusual closing really about too much heat? Or <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/sneed/5694076-452/did-street-gang-activity-really-close-north-ave.-beach">was it about gangs</a>?</p><p><strong>Sports</strong>: Last night, the NBA Finals began with a Game 1 win for the Miami Heat. I watched the 4th quarter and during a timeout, noticed a big celebrity sitting courtside. His name is Julius Peppers and he plays defensive line for the Chicago Bears. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Peppers was spotted sitting courtside with a Chicago White Sox hat on. I gave him mad props for supporting the Chicago team. But now, I'm not so sure. Is it possible that <a href="http://mvn.com/2011/04/05/photo-of-the-day-julius-peppers-beaching-it-with-his-girlfriend/">Peppers is a Heat fan</a>? And if that's the case, should the Bears just cut him outright? Forget what I said earlier about how great he is on the football field, what I mean to say is that he is lazy, unproductive and a liability.</p><p>Because of this betrayal, I hope football never comes back.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 01 Jun 2011 14:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-06-01/poor-pat-quinn-are-you-ready-your-legacy-87275 Sammy! Sammy! Sammy! Great to see Sosa back on TV (in stands, at basketball game) http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-05-22/sammy-sammy-sammy-great-see-sosa-back-tv-stands-basketball-game-8688 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-22/sammy-sosa.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-22/AP110522083044.jpg" title="Oh, Kyle. (Photo by AP) " width="336" height="512"></p><p>Whichever way you slice it, this Heat/Bulls series is tops. It's so super-charged, not only with great basketball but with stupid side drama that only teams like these could deliver. Get a Bogans/Wade or, even better, Deng/LeBron fight going? Boozer/Bosh? Derrick Rose against the world? Heck, even Ronnie Brewer is fun to watch.</p><p>It's heavyweight basketball. Both teams, trading blows. Miami's bigger, Chicago's stronger. It's what the MJ-led Bulls rarely had during their championship run: a team that could beat them. Yes, there were teams like the Knicks and Pacers that pushed the Bulls, but the Bulls were always the favorites. In this case, America loves the Heat because big business love the Heat. Our biggest secret as fan? We want to win it all, but we're cool if we don't. This is our first year with a 22-year-old MVP. Sound familiar? It would be really nice to have this team earn it and keep it for as many years as our last team. If it means they learn a few lessons and get experience from it, great. And then we come back stronger and win the whole thing (see Derrick Rose hugging trophy).</p><p>Here are some other random observations from Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals:</p><p>Did Noah use a gay slur? I missed it, but the Chicago Tribune didn't. They wrote up the alleged story before halftime with YouTube clip. This is going to be huge this morning. C'mon, Joakim. Chicago wants to like you. But you are too over-the-top with your emotions. Did a fan really get to you on the sideline? That's what they pay big money for those seats for! You just gave the Miami Heat a reason to jack up those court side prices. "You can also interact with visiting players and get under their skin. $4,500."</p><p>Personally, I think the NBA should suspend him for one game. Imagine what message that would send over how serious the league was?</p><p>You heard it here first: Derrick Rose and LeBron James travel like crazy. Sorry, but guys like LeBron, Dwyane and Derrick should get the calls because they are that much more talented than everyone. But not a lot of fouls were called when D. Rose got to the paint. You don't want to call it for Asik, I understand. But c'mon, Rose should be at the line 15 times a game. I saw Chalmers on the line more than Rose. Chalmers? C'mon. (<em>Ed note: Chalmers did not go to the line more than Rose. But still, point made.</em>)</p><p>Again, with the white-outed arenas??!! Do you buy one of those shirts, or do they give you one when you walk in? This t-shirt trend is getting cheesy. If you are going to give credit, give the credit to the Chicago red out or Oklahoma City blue out because really, white out is so lame. Every team has white in their colors. The Heat fans should wear maroon.</p><p>I hope these two teams continue to jaw at each other. Get a real hatred going for both squads. All that leads to a rivalry and great basketball for the next 10 years. Face it ladies, your husbands and boyfriends will be 'this' into basketball for the next 10 years. Every May/June is going to suck in Chicago if you aren't a Bulls fan.</p><p>The Miami Heat play at American Airlines Arena? The Bulls play at the United Center? Do you remember when airline companies were the biggest thing in business?&nbsp; Now it's all banks.</p><p>What's with MJ's Hitler 'stache in those Hanes commercials? It's not a full mustache, it's just a half one.</p><p>Oooh, was that Julius Peppers watching the game in the White Sox hat, sitting next to the scorers table in the front row? I'm now super jacked up. Go Bulls and go NFL players union. Let's get this damn NFL season back on track. PEPPERS!!!!!</p><p>Can TNT hire any more of the Bulls' most hated? McHale is now on the post-game analysis. You already have Charles Barkley/Reggie Miller? At least we have Kerr. I guess it could be worse: the ESPN crew is made up of Jeff Van Gundy and Marc Jackson. Ugh.</p><p>Open letter to the Heat PA announcer: Calm it down.</p><p>God, the Heat just have a slew of guys that can take over a game with huge runs. Bosh in the first half. DWade in the 3rd. Haslem in late third. And then in the 4th quarter, it was LeBron time. Oh, Kyle. You tried so hard.</p><p>After the game, I was ready to turn it off but it was fun to watch the Heat fans throw things at Charles Barkley. And I'm glad I stayed with the post-game, as they flashed the biggest celebrity of the game, giving his signature hand-signs:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-22/sammy-sosa.jpg" title="" width="500" height="667"></p><p>If I were sitting behind him, I would have chanted "Sammy! Sammy! Sammy!" all game. Then I would have partied with him at all of Miami's finest nightclubs and yachts. I miss you Sammy Sosa.</p></p> Mon, 23 May 2011 03:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-05-22/sammy-sammy-sammy-great-see-sosa-back-tv-stands-basketball-game-8688 The sooner the Bears lose, the better http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/sooner-bears-lose-better <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP101226041784.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="341" width="512" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-13/AP101226041784.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p>As the Bears get set to host the Seattle Seahawks in their divisional playoff this Sunday, Chicagoans are starting to come together like they did when the Blackhawks glided toward hockey&rsquo;s Stanley Cup last spring.<br /><br />The excitement brings to mind some words of a 19th century German philosopher: &ldquo;Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.&rdquo;<br /><br />If religion is our opium, as Marx put it, then Chicago&rsquo;s National Football League franchise is our crack cocaine.<br /><br />More than three years since the economy began to collapse, the Chicago area&rsquo;s unemployment rate is hovering around 9 percent. Foreclosure filings are rising again. Our wages are anemic. Illinois lawmakers are raising our taxes. <br /><br />Gee, though, won&rsquo;t it be great if Julius Peppers knocks Matt Hasselbeck on his ass this Sunday?<br /><br />We have no connection to these multimillionaire gladiators, yet a few of us are already donning Bears jerseys. It&rsquo;s the only show of Chicago solidarity we can imagine.<br /><br />Some of us will even put money on the team, regardless of the odds. We might be a couple months behind on rent. But Devin Hester could go all the way!<br /><br />On Sunday, finally, we&rsquo;ll spend hours and hours on a couch, gazing into a liquid crystal display. We&rsquo;ll cheer now and then, but the experience will be entirely passive.<br /><br />Then, if the Bears win, the &ldquo;news&rdquo; coverage will crowd out most meaningful Chicago journalism for days. The coverage will quickly turn into hype about the next playoff game. And our addiction cycle will continue on.<br /><br />We could be smoking this rock until at least February 6, the sacred day known as &ldquo;Super Bowl Sunday.&rdquo;<br /><br />Marx may have been wrong about abolishing religion. But the sooner the Bears flame out, the sooner Chicagoans can build some solidarity for things that count.</p><p>*<em>This post was edited from its original state to remove a characterization of a mayoral candidate</em>.</p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 20:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/sooner-bears-lose-better Forget benching starters, Bears must win in Green Bay (and other observations from Bears v. Jets) http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/forget-benching-starters-bears-must-win-green-bay-and-other-observations-bears- <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP101226043665.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>What a game. For a fan, it was nice to have a game that was out of character. Unfortunately, I&nbsp;missed it. I&nbsp;was celebrating a late Christmas with my in-laws in&nbsp;South Bend, Indiana. All week I was assured the Bears game would be on their CBS affiliate. But little did I know, the Colts (South Bend's other favorite team) were&nbsp;playing the late game and the antiquated NFL&nbsp;rules prohibited this market from showing both a 12pm and 3pm game (because the Giants/Packers were on Fox). So I&nbsp;sat down to watch a Messiah Christmas concert and informercial, followed by a Motorcross season preview.</p><p>I&nbsp;got by with a steady dose of texts (thanks, Tommy) and game breaks during the Lions/Dolphins game. Luckily, my brother took notes for me. So I&nbsp;introduce my guest blogger, without a computer:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img title="" alt="" style="width: 495px; height: 614px;" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-December/2010-12-27/photo.jpg" /></p><p style="text-align: left;">Good points, all around. Here are some random observations I&nbsp;took from post-game re-runs and highlights:</p><ul><li>Maybe I was wrong, maybe the turf is a positive home field advantage for the Bears. Yesterday, the turf was subpar, but because of the bad footing, the Jets couldn't get a pass rush going. And because there was no pass rush, Cutler just threw the ball all over the field. If our offensive line can't block, maybe the Chicago Bears have let the field go in order to give max protection. Good conspiracy theory, eh?</li><li>This time of year is ripe with scenarios: If the Eagles beat the Vikings, then the game against the Packers next Sunday will be a very important game. But the Bears have clinched, right?&nbsp;Well, if the Bears lose to the Packers and the Eagles beat up on the Cowboys, the Bears will not get the first round bye. No biggie, right? Well by my calculations, there would be a good chance that the Bears would have to come back down to Chicago and play the Packers in the first round of the playoffs. So losing to the Packers would, a) let the Packers into the playoffs,&nbsp; b) lose a first round bye and c) set up the first round rematch with the Pack at Soldier Field.&nbsp;We are now talking about the best road to the Super Bowl. This is not it.</li><li>The Bears and Packers have not met in the playoffs in recent football history. They met one time in 1941. They both have appeared in the playoffs 25 times. It would be a great football weekend. Historic. And I don't want anything to do with it. To me, the 2010 Green Bay Packers may be the best of the bunch. They have been snakebit by several key injuries, but they are still playing at a very high level.</li><li>I&nbsp;will say this - both sides have plenty to play for: to hurt the other team. I&nbsp;outlined how the Pack could hurt the Bears, but if the Bears go into Lambeau and beat the Pack, the Pack could be out of the playoffs. They could be leap-frogged by the Tampa Bay Bucs or the New York Giants.</li><li>Rex Ryan and the Jets talk a huge game. But something tells me they will be out of the running early. This team's strength was supposed to be their high-paid secondary. Johnny Knox and Devin Hester looked like Swan and Stalworth yesterday. The Jets will have to go on the road to get to the Super Bowl. Let's hope they don't encounter inclement weather.</li><li>Devin Hester for MVP.</li><li>I was watching a &quot;mic'd up&quot; segment on Comcast Sports last night. They mic'd Israel&nbsp;Idonije and there wasn't much to listen to (&quot;Let's go, baby! Yeah, baby!). But at the end, he was in the locker room and Lovie Smith came in for the locker room speech. In this short clip, Lovie had an energetic and intimidating presence. Nothing like his laid back, slow-talking press conferences. This was more like a motivator, a man talking to men. It was very out of character to what he projects when up on the podium. I want more of that Lovie.</li><li>I watched several post-game shows, both locally and nationally last night. The national spotlight was on the Jets and how miserable they were for losing to the Bears. They are definitely the national media darlings right now. ESPN spent at least&nbsp;three minutes on the Jets and what happens next.&nbsp;At the end, one of the guys said &quot;and the Bears, they are pretty good.&quot; Thanks for the analysis, jag. I&nbsp;get it, Ryan is a star in the league. But last I checked, the Chicago Bears were the No. 2 seed in the NFC&nbsp;and worthy of at least a few minutes of color-commentary.</li><li>Did I&nbsp;read that Robbie Gould missed a field goal? Run him out of town.</li><li>The Pro-Bowl announcement is this week.&nbsp;Let's see how many Bears will be selected to the game and then back out because it's meaningless. Really, we should be looking at who will be added to the Pro-Bowl roster. I select Corey Graham and Chris Harris.</li></ul><p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 27 Dec 2010 16:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/forget-benching-starters-bears-must-win-green-bay-and-other-observations-bears- Sports update: Bears defense hits South Beach http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/sports-update-bears-defense-hits-south-beach <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/bears defense resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Bears defense certainly took their talents to South Beach last night. The team&rsquo;s 16-0 shut-out over the Miami Dolphins puts the Monsters of the Midway on top of the NFC North, at least for the next few days.</p><p>The circus has hit town which means the Blackhawks and Bulls have hit the road, where both teams have a lot to prove.</p><p>Meanwhile a different set of acts are unfolding at the &quot;Friendly Confines&quot; on Chicago's North Side: Northwestern takes on the Illini in the <a href="http://nusports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/111710aaa.html" target="_blank">AllState Wrigleyville Classic</a> on Saturday; the first time there's been gridiron action on that field in four decades.</p><p>And the Ricketts family is talking up a &quot;now you get it, now you don&rsquo;t deal,&quot; that would net them $200 million in state bonds to renovate the ball park.&nbsp;</p><p>Eight Forty-Eight spoke to regular Sports Contributor Cheryl Raye-Stout for the breakdown.</p></p> Fri, 19 Nov 2010 14:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/sports-update-bears-defense-hits-south-beach Memo to Minny: If you don't want Adrian Peterson, we'll take him off your hands (and other Bears v. Vikings observations) http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/memo-minny-if-you-dont-want-adrian-peterson-well-take-him-your-hands-and-other- <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP101114058478.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Whether the Bears are 6-3 or 3-6, you gotta love it when they beat the Vikings and Brett Favre. It's all we ever ask.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 485px; height: 320px;" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-15/AP101114058478.jpg" alt="" title="Guys, you can't kiss with helmets on. (Photo by AP)" /></p><p>The major sports media in town have taken the angle that this <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-spt-1115-bears-haugh-chicago--20101114,0,7675515.column">win just prolongs the inevitable</a>: the <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/morrissey/2893876,CST-SPT-morrissey15.article">firing of Lovie Smith</a>.&nbsp; After a complete game in which we got to see the Chicago Bears signature defense and the Chicago Bears offense play in tandem, the focus is on how the Bears aren't really that good but this was a step in the right direction.</p><p>Flying around the ball, rolling the pocket, dominating in special teams - this was the way we thought the Bears would play under Lovie. If this kind of football is played with consistency, why would we want another coach?&nbsp;</p><p>I&nbsp;know it's unpopular to like Lovie Smith. But his style of football is to play loose and to wreak havoc. Toward the end of the game when kick returner Percy Harvin fumbled away the kickoff, I was hoping that the challenge would show he retained posession. Why? Cause the Bears were up two scores and I would much rather watch the Bears D in that situation than the Bears O. The D was going to tee-off on Favre. They didn't hit him, but Favre threw two picks in the final 5 minutes. Fun to watch. Much more fun than the patented Matt Forte flop at the line of scrimmage.</p><p>Another positive for Lovie:&nbsp; he knows how to beat Brett Favre.&nbsp; Remember a certain Dick Jauron? He couldn't beat Favre to save his job. And Dave Wannstedt? De-pantsed regularly by the gunslinger. Lovie is 8-3 against Favre. As a die-hard Bears fan, that's worth its weight in gold.&nbsp; We can thank Lovie directly for limiting the broadcaster's story-line that Favre loves to play the Bears.&nbsp; Remember that?&nbsp; Favre loves playing the Bears.&nbsp;Now, the storyline is Lovie's success against Favre. Thank you Lovie!&nbsp;</p><p>Devin Hester may be the best Chicago Bear in modern history (<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-spt-1115-bears-pompei-chicago--20101114,0,50346.column">Pompei has it right</a>). This guy is so sensational and so explosive that he makes the biggest plays on the football field every Sunday. He certainly did the heavy lifting for the Bears yesterday. Put it this way, if the Bears were like a college team that put Buckeyes on helmets for good plays, Hester would have them all over his helmet and down his back. And the question remains - why did the Vikings kick to him so much? Maybe it was a good thing that Hester seemed to be washed up as a kick returner earlier in the year. Teams think kicking to him may be better than kicking out of bounds. Something tells me that's about to change.</p><p>I&nbsp;don't coach. I&nbsp;know it seems like I&nbsp;do, but I'm just a casual observer. But if I&nbsp;were coaching the Vikings, I would run Adrian Peterson 40 times. Then throw to him 15 more. Childress deserves to be fired, just for not using purple Jesus enough. What was rookie Toby Gerhardt even on the field for?</p><p>And what was with color-commentator Moose Johnston's suit? Checkered, with a paisley tie?&nbsp;What, is he married/dating a model like Tom Brady is? Is this the new reality in the NFL? Clothes and hair?&nbsp;Ugh.</p><p>The NFL&nbsp;Network is running commercials for their first Thursday night football of the 2010 season.&nbsp;It's this Thursday's game and it's the Bears vs. Dolphins. In the commercial, they are going with the defense as the story-line for the Bears. They don't even mention Cutler's name. The network has spoken - the Bears are a defensive team.</p><p>Julius Peppers has 2 sacks. The debate has begun in the major sports media about whether or not we are getting our money's worth. So we have to ask the question: If the Bears D&nbsp;is back to a top 10 squad and we make the playoffs, do you care if Peppers got paid a ton with poor stats?&nbsp;</p><p>Paging Bernard. Bernard Berrian? If you are in the stadium, please report to the parking lot. Your bus is leaving. Could you imagine if we paid that guy millions to stay?</p><p>Possible problems on the horizon: The running game is very weak. If it's Forte or Taylor, they are both rushing for about 3 yards (max) a carry.&nbsp;And the only one who is having any success running the football is Cutler. This might be why the Bears offense has problems? Even though they ran the ball poorly, Jay Cutler bailed out the team with a tremendous third down conversion rate. When he doesn't do that, they struggle mightily. Most of those third down passes coming after he scrambled from the pocket and improvised with a receiver.</p><p>I mean really, wouldn't it be nice to hear the Joniak call that Forte was tackled by a linebacker, not a defensive lineman?&nbsp;</p><p>Okay, let's hand out some hardware:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Winners</strong>: Devin Hester, Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije</p><p><strong>Losers</strong>:&nbsp;Matt Forte, Chris Harris, Johnny Knox, Olin&nbsp;Kreutz, Robbie Gould and Mike Tice&nbsp;(just for once coaching the Vikings)</p></p> Mon, 15 Nov 2010 16:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/memo-minny-if-you-dont-want-adrian-peterson-well-take-him-your-hands-and-other-