WBEZ | football http://www.wbez.org/tags/football Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Bears fans react to debate over concussions http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-fans-react-debate-over-concussions-108905 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_mikemorbeck.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A senior football player at Lane Tech high school <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-10/news/chi-injured-lane-tech-players-family-to-attend-game-20131010_1_waiting-game-sister-critical-condition">remains in critical condition today</a> after suffering a severe head injury at last Friday&rsquo;s game.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the latest, and perhaps most local, in a string of news stories about football-related brain injuries.</p><p>On Tuesday, PBS FRONTLINE began airing a much-anticipated documentary, called<em> <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/">League of Denial</a></em>, based on a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/League-Denial-Concussions-Battle-Truth-ebook/dp/B00DXKJ6IQ">book</a> by the same name, about football&rsquo;s connection to long-term brain damage.</p><p><a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2013/10/league_of_denial_documentary_is_a_cautionary_tale_for_every_parent_and_should_give_pause_to_every_nf.html">Some</a> <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1803918-league-of-denial-strikes-at-the-heart-of-the-nfl-and-football-as-we-know-it">say</a> the documentary, and the companion book by Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, could fundamentally change how people view the game of football.</p><p>WBEZ wondered what kind of impact the overall debate has had on local football fans. We headed to Soldier Field two hours before kick-off Thursday night to find out.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s what a few Bears fans had to say:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;(The NFL is) doing a lot to improve the game, but it&rsquo;s a little too late for the guys that have been playing for 20, 30 years.&rdquo; - Paul Loftus</p><p>&ldquo;It changed the perspective a little bit, but we love football. We&rsquo;re a football family.&rdquo; - Chris French</p><p>&ldquo;I think everybody, before they get into high-level football, should be aware of the risks. But I think, everything in life is kind of a risk-reward decision. So (players) should be aware of the risk before they make their decision, because I feel like up to this point, it&rsquo;s been a lot of, we don&rsquo;t really know how bad concussions are, but now they know.&rdquo; - Val Pinskiy</p><p>&ldquo;If I had a son, I would look at the way, they play football. But as far as watching a game, that&rsquo;s what you pay for. They&rsquo;re kind of like gladiators.&rdquo; - Kurt Schlickman</p></blockquote><p>What do you think about the link between football and long-term brain damage? Has it changed how you view professional football? College? High school? Pop Warner?</p><p>Have you seen the PBS FRONTLINE documentary? What did you think? Note: League of Denial: The NFL&rsquo;s Concussion Crisis airs again tonight, Friday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. on WTTW. Find other local times <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/local-schedule/">here</a>.</p><p><em>Share your thoughts in the comment section below or e-mail WBEZ producer Becky Vevea at <a href="mailto:bvevea@wbez.org">bvevea@wbez.org</a>.</em></p><p><em>Monica Eng contributed to reporting. Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Oct 2013 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-fans-react-debate-over-concussions-108905 Does Marc Trestman hold the Bears' Golden Ticket? http://www.wbez.org/news/does-marc-trestman-hold-bears-golden-ticket-108783 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Trestman AP Photo_Don Wright.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-7fcd7129-5c84-6b53-f704-d4025a62f3f1">Marc Trestman is a former college quarterback who was certainly known in and around football. He had 17 years of experience in the NFL with eight different organizations. He worked as a running backs&rsquo; coach, a quarterbacks&rsquo; coach and an offensive coordinator; he coached college ball too. He was a football savant but rubbed people the wrong way. And then...he disappeared.</p><p dir="ltr">The football world knew he was in Canada but didn&rsquo;t pay too much attention to that, according to Yahoo! Sports writer <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/news/football-thursday--bears-coach-marc-trestman-needed-exile-in-canada-to-overcome--doesn-t-relate-well--reputation-174051955.html">Les Carpenter</a>. Trestman had spent the last five years in Montreal coaching the Alouettes; he led the team to back-to-back Grey Cup championships, that&rsquo;s Canada&rsquo;s version of the Super Bowl. He was the CFL&rsquo;s Coach of the Year in 2009.</p><p dir="ltr">So what changed? Why after years of being bounced around the NFL was he suddenly this successful head coach? Carpenter traveled to Canada to find out.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think he went up there and he realized, &lsquo;I need to understand people. I need to deal with football players as people--not as names on a roster sheet or numbers in front of me on jerseys.&rsquo; And I think a lot of the players really embraced that. They felt, &lsquo;gosh, this is a guy who really cares about me,&rsquo;&rdquo; Carpenter explained.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s certainly how Alouette wide receiver Brandon London felt&hellip;eventually.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t think that we were going to get along...because I was thinking in my head, here&rsquo;s a coach that&rsquo;s going to try and change me. But after that three years of being together, Coach Trestman&rsquo;s become a really good friend of mine, (a) really good mentor of mine,&rdquo; London said.</p><p dir="ltr">And London&rsquo;s not starving for football mentors. His father&rsquo;s Mike London, a former NFL player and the current head coach at the University of Virginia.</p><p dir="ltr">But, London said Trestman made him think about football in a very different, very detailed way. Or as he put it, &ldquo;obsessive.&rdquo; And Carpenter concurred.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;He wants things to be very meticulous...almost to the point where there can&rsquo;t be typos in the schedule that they put out every day for the things that they&rsquo;re going to do,&rdquo; Carpenter explained.</p><p dir="ltr">Trestman&rsquo;s current players had even more to say about his character.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I always say Coach Trestman reminds me of the first Willy Wonka...not the Johnny Depp one, the Johnny Depp one&rsquo;s really cool...but the first one. Cause if you really look at coach, he&rsquo;s a genius...I thought Willy Wonka was brilliant,&rdquo; tight end Martellus Bennett said recently.</p><p dir="ltr">And, the candy man, like Trestman, for those who don&rsquo;t remember, had an eye for detail.</p><p dir="ltr">It makes sense that Trestman is a meticulous guy. He is, after all, an attorney. He got his law degree while working as an assistant coach under Jimmy Johnson at the University of Miami. &nbsp;Between NFL gigs in the &lsquo;90s, Trestman also spent a few years working as a stockbroker, selling municipal bonds and managing investment portfolios.</p><p dir="ltr">Oh...and he <a href="http://www.coachmarctrestman.com/">wrote a book</a> about perseverance and leadership and he is frequently referred to as a genius. But Carpenter said that Trestman&rsquo;s smarts often rubbed people the wrong way.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think it was some of the bookish look, the lawyerish look as somebody described it to me...I think some of it was that idea that he wasn&rsquo;t going to come out drinking, he wasn&rsquo;t going to hang out in bars with other coaches,&rdquo; Carpenter surmised.</p><p dir="ltr">That seemed to be something Trestman was able to work through in Montreal. Because London called him a friend and Bears tight end Martellus Bennett now says the Bears look at their coach as one of the players.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;He&rsquo;s just like of the guys out there...he&rsquo;s like a teammate to us, he&rsquo;s not just a coach...he&rsquo;s part of this team,&rdquo; Bennett explained.</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ sports contributor Cheryl Raye-Stout has covered the Monsters of the Midway for the better part of three decades. She wasn&rsquo;t sold on the Wonka analogy but said, &ldquo;If they [the Bears] could make the playoffs, then the Golden Ticket I think would be punched then.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">She said the surest way to do that is to get Jay Cutler to buy in--and that shouldn&rsquo;t be too difficult for Trestman. He coached some of the NFL&rsquo;s best quarterbacks. He coached Steve Young and Rich Gannon; Gannon won the NFL MVP during Trestman&rsquo;s time with the Oakland Raiders.</p><p dir="ltr">And, Raye-Stout said, Trestman has already put in extra time with Cutler.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Trestman took all of every negative play that Cutler had last year...all the sacks, all the interceptions, all the bad plays and showed it to him. To kind of show him, this is what we&rsquo;re gonna work on. Jay was taken aback at first and then realized, he was dealing with someone that was not just on his level but above his level,&rdquo; Raye-Stout recalled.</p><p dir="ltr">At the end of the day, Bears fans won&rsquo;t care if Trestman is Willy Wonka, a lawyer, a quarterbacks coach, a stockbroker or a genius...so long as he&rsquo;s a winner.</p><p>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez.</a></p></p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 18:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/does-marc-trestman-hold-bears-golden-ticket-108783 Morning Shift: A Superbowl champ tackles concussions in the game http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-06/morning-shift-superbowl-champ-tackles-concussions <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Football - Flickr- LITTLE MIAMI LACROSSE.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Bears Superbowl champ Dennis McKinnon discusses a new film that takes on the concussion epidemic in the NFL. Also, financial expert Sandy Botkin gives tips on saving for one of the mor financially taxing expenditures any of of us makes - higher education.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-59/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-59.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-59" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: A Superbowl champ tackles concussions in the game" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 06 Sep 2013 08:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-06/morning-shift-superbowl-champ-tackles-concussions 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 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 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 Forgiveness, not anger, heals Sullivan family following Notre Dame tragedy http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/forgiveness-not-anger-heals-sullivan-family-following-notre-dame-tragedy-104688 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F73570738" width="100%"></iframe></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/RS6886_Declan%202.jpg" style="float: right; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="A photo of Declan - left - with his brother and sister. (Daily Herald)" />When it came time for Barry Sullivan&rsquo;s son to decide where he&rsquo;d go to college a few years ago it really wasn&rsquo;t much of a choice.&nbsp; As a graduate of Carmel Catholic High School in the northwest suburban Mundelein, academics was important -- but so was something else.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>&ldquo;Notre Dame football is something he&rsquo;d been following since he was a young kid. In fact, I can remember, this was probably when he was junior high or early high school, just starting to think about someday he would go to college. And we would talk about different schools,&rdquo; said Declan&rsquo;s father, Barry Sullivan. &ldquo;He would say, &lsquo;Dad I can&rsquo;t go there. They play Notre Dame.&rdquo;</p><p>So in 2008 Declan Sullivan arrived at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. His mother urged him to major in business but he also found time to take film classes.</p><p>Barry Sullivan says it was that passion that got Declan closer to his favorite football team.</p><p>&ldquo;He was actually recommended to it by one of his film teachers. They knew of his interest. They said, well, there&rsquo;s an opportunity to work with the football team. It&rsquo;s a great job if you want to be behind the camera and he jumped on it,&rdquo; Barry Sullivan said.</p><p>Declan went on to film the football squad from his freshman through his junior year. But it all came to an abrupt end on an unusually windy day in South Bend on October 27, 2010.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember remarking to myself how scary it was,&rdquo; said Alex Bowman of South Bend, who was a sophomore at Notre Dame at the time.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Bowman, a political science major, was among the few students on campus during the holiday break.</div><p>&ldquo;The wind was whipping around. Trees were moving back and forth. I was nervous,&rdquo; Bowman said.</p><p>So was Declan Sullivan.</p><p>That afternoon he was more than 50 feet off the ground on what&rsquo;s called a scissor lift preparing to tape practice.</p><p>It was so windy, he even tweeted about how scared he was.</p><p>The suddenly, a gust of wind toppled the lift, and Declan fell to his death.</p><p>Bowman didn&rsquo;t see it happen, but was nearby on campus.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s unthinkable. It&rsquo;s really beyond comprehension to think that something so tragic could happen and let alone happen just a few feet away. It was unimaginably sad,&rdquo; Bowman said. &ldquo;That had an impact on every individual in the community.&rdquo;</p><p>Like everyone else, Bowman had questions about how this could happen.</p><p>&ldquo;A 50 foot scissor lift, if you&rsquo;ve been out to the practice fields, the only thing taller than that are the lights,&rdquo; Bowman said. &ldquo;With the winds like that, it&rsquo;s hard for me to think there isn&rsquo;t someone who said, &lsquo;You know, maybe we should get him down.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Declan&rsquo;s death happened on then new head coach Brian Kelly&rsquo;s watch. The media criticized Kelly and Notre Dame&rsquo;s administration. Some sports columnists called for Kelly&rsquo;s firing.<br />The State of Indiana, meanwhile, opened an investigation.</p><p>&ldquo;There was a lot of concern for how it was handled. How could you possible let a student in that situation,&rdquo; said Teagan Lawson, a Notre Dame grad student who too wondered about N-Notre Dame&rsquo;s actions on that day.</p><p>Lawson was among the few remaining Notre Dame students on campus during the holiday break. She and a few other current or former students talked about that day two years ago, one of the most tragic in recent Notre Dame history.</p><p>&ldquo;Honestly, I&rsquo;m not sure how I would react. It would be devastating for sure. I don&rsquo;t think you could have anything but anger,&rdquo; Lawson said.</p><p>Anger is something Declan&rsquo;s father, Barry Sullivan, also experienced but it wasn&rsquo;t toward anyone in particular at Notre Dame, and certainly not Coach Brian Kelly.</p><p>&ldquo;You ask, &ldquo;Why did this happen? Why did this happen to us?&rsquo; There is a sense of anger there but to direct that anger toward the individuals, especially when we can see how they were suffering; it just seemed cruel to do that to somebody who is already suffering that way,&rdquo; Sullivan said.<br />Indiana&rsquo;s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Notre Dame $42,000 for safety violations following an investigation after Declan&rsquo;s death.</p><p>In an agreement with the State of Indiana, Notre Dame said it would set up a nationwide safety campaign for aerial lifts.</p><p>More than two years after that tragic day, Notre Dame is getting ready for its biggest game in nearly 25 years.</p><p>Coach Brian Kelly says the team hasn&rsquo;t forgotten about Declan, a former member of their football family.</p><p>&ldquo;Every day that we walk out to the field there is a memorial that we pass with Declan&rsquo;s name on it,&rdquo; Kelly told WBEZ. &ldquo;So he&rsquo;s part of this journey that we&rsquo;ve been on the last three years. You can&rsquo;t help but to feel that he&rsquo;s part of it.&rdquo;</p><p>And Barry Sullivan and his family will be a part of it in Miami too when the Irish take the field. Sullivan says it will be bittersweet to be there without Declan cheering on the team, especially since so many of his friends will be playing in the championship.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure he would be very exciting seeing the team succeeding, especially since he knew some of the players. I&rsquo;m sure he would be very excited about Manti Te&rsquo;o being a runner up for the Heisman because again, it&rsquo;s somebody that he knew,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Barry Sullivan says he&rsquo;s happy to know that Declan&rsquo;s memory will live on through his foundation, the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund, dedicated to providing funding to Horizons for Youth, a not-for-profit Chicago group that helps children in K to 12 with educational assistance.</p><p>Horizons for Youth has been around for more than 20 years and is based on Chicago&rsquo;s West Loop.</p><p>Because of a tremendously successful fundraiser last spring, the Declan Drumm Sullivan Memorial Fund raised $600,000, enough for 40 more children to use the servies of Horizons for Youth. The group has been nicknamed &ldquo;Declan&rsquo;s 40.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;My degrees are in engineering. My wife is a physician. We couldn&rsquo;t have gotten to where we are without education and a lot of it. And, we were doing the same for our children,&rdquo; Barry Sullivan said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why Declan was at Notre Dame. Devoting the fund to educational causes was something there at the start.&rdquo;<br />But Barry Sullivan knows that some may still not want to let Notre Dame off the hook in holding the school responsible for Declan&rsquo;s death.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t look at it that way. Of all people, if anybody should have those feelings it would be Declan&rsquo;s family,&rdquo; Sullivan said. &ldquo;So, if we are able to understand and if you want to use the word forgive, if we are able to do that, you should too.&rdquo;</p><p>The Sullivans&rsquo; passion for Notre Dame hasn&rsquo;t diminished with Declan&rsquo;s passing.</p><p>Barry Sullivan&rsquo;s daughter, Wyn, is set to graduate from Notre Dame in the spring, while his youngest son, Mac, will be attending college soon.</p><p>His first choice: Notre Dame.</p></p> Thu, 03 Jan 2013 16:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/forgiveness-not-anger-heals-sullivan-family-following-notre-dame-tragedy-104688 NIU football going to Miami for bowl game http://www.wbez.org/news/sports/niu-football-going-miami-bowl-game-104572 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6869_AP429074414990-scr.jpg" style="height: 402px; width: 620px;" title="NIU Coach Rod Carey (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)" /></div></div><p>Northern Illinois University (NIU) will make history next week when its football team plays the Orange Bowl in Florida.</p><p>The&nbsp;Huskies are no strangers to bowl games - this will be their seventh in 10 years.&nbsp;But they will be the first team from the Mid-American Conference to compete in a Bowl Championship Series game.</p><p>Some 1,300 of their fellow students plan to head south to cheer them on.</p><p>Paul Palian is head of Media and Public Relations at Northern Illinois. He says NIU worked around the clock to arrange accommodations and transportation for the students, including finding 26 buses on short notice. But&nbsp;Palian says their efforts were worth it.</p><p>&quot;The students are excited, the campus has various landmarks lit up in orange &ndash;&nbsp;just a great atmosphere in DeKalb right now,&quot; Palian said.</p><p>Meanwhile, Donna Turner of NIU&rsquo;s Athletics Department <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/26/3157431/niu-arrives-in-miami-for-orange.html">is with the team in Miami. </a></p><p>She says over the next few days, players will attend charitable events and team dinners. As they approach game time, the big challenge will be the &quot;mental preparation&quot; required to face the Florida State Seminoles.</p><p>The Huskies are the underdogs of this match-up, so Turner hopes the traveling&nbsp;NIU students bring their high spirits all the way to the Sunshine State.</p><p>&quot;You know obviously we&rsquo;re playing against Florida State,&quot; Turner said. &quot;So our fans will be pretty severely outnumbered we feel.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>The <a href="http://www.orangebowl.org/">Orange Bowl</a> takes place next Tuesday.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 26 Dec 2012 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sports/niu-football-going-miami-bowl-game-104572 Amid football concussion concerns, Palatine mayor plans flag league for younger players http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/amid-football-concussion-concerns-palatine-mayor-plans-flag-league <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_kids_football_todd_j_vanemst.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 463px" title="Kids are going to play football. Can it be safe? (AP Photo/Todd J. VanEmst)" /></div><p>Giving our youngest football players a chance to play the sport they love the right way &mdash; safely &mdash;&nbsp;is the aim of one former pro and suburban mayor.&nbsp;Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz, a former NFL linebacker who racked up time with the Bears, 49ers&nbsp;and Cowboys, plans to launch the&nbsp;<a href="http://nwffl.org">Northwest Flag Football League&nbsp;</a>for young suburban athletes starting in August 2013.</p><p>Schwantz said he saw a&nbsp;gap for players at a vulnerable age, third through sixth grades, with only tackle football available in his area. Not that Schwantz doesn&rsquo;t believe in tackle football &mdash;&nbsp;he has coached it for two years. However, he sees risks that could be avoided.&nbsp;According to Schwantz, most players in this age group are not ready for the physical demands of the game. &quot;Studies show kids don&rsquo;t have the muscle strength in [their] necks to support helmets until they get older and stronger,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>When it comes to football, the biggest worry for most parents is the potential for concussions.&nbsp;&quot;Any time there is a collision with your head there is a potential to have damage,&quot; said Schwantz. &ldquo;You can fall and hit your head with flag football, but we will do our best to eliminate those instances from happening.&quot;</p><p>Schwantz will do his best to minimize the potential for concussions in his league, which will be managed with scripted plays, using various stations to train and develop the players as athletes. Schwantz and other high level coaches will closely monitor every aspect of the two-a-week sessions. Although kids in Schwantz&#39;s league will&nbsp;scrimmage, they won&#39;t play games against outside opponents; this gives them time to stress fundamentals. &ldquo;You can work on game plans, you can work on routes, work on plays and defense,&quot; said Schwantz. &quot;The emphasis is on the individual training to make sure they are ready to go.&quot; The mayor hopes players that want to compete in high school will use this as a stepping stone into tackle football. His league aims to give young players the option to grow and mature without &quot;falling through the cracks.&quot;</p><p>The mayor&#39;s concern is also personal: Schwantz&#39;s son is in eighth grade and plans to follow his dad&rsquo;s footsteps to play football at Fremd High School in Palatine. When I asked the former linebacker if he worries about concussions with his son, he said yes &mdash; there is a concern. If his son were to suffer a concussion, Schwantz said both he and his wife would monitor the situation closely before they allow a return to the field, noting that any subsequent concussions would be risky if they didn&rsquo;t manage the initial one. Schwantz is not alone in his concern: His son, he said, is also watched by &ldquo;my wife, my brother, my parents, my in-laws.&quot;</p><p>&quot;We had a bunch of eyes on one kid,&rdquo; Schwantz said.</p><p>The league will practice at Harper College&#39;s facilities in Palatine, but space like this is hard to come by. Local fields are filled with soccer, lacrosse and other sports, so unfortunately, any future expansion of a league like this could be problematic.</p><p>Some football enthusiasts think flag football doesn&rsquo;t give a kid the true essence of the game. But this former high school, college and professional player wants to give kids an alternative for the right reasons: &ldquo;letting kids play football safely and learn teamwork, dedication, hard work and perseverance &mdash; the life lessons you learn in football.&rdquo;</p><p>I think he has the right idea.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 19 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/amid-football-concussion-concerns-palatine-mayor-plans-flag-league