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Tag:Chicago Bears
Posted on: October 14, 2011 6:58 pm
 

Meriweather fined $25K, suspension coming?

Posted by Will Brinson

Bears safety Brandon Meriweather's found himself on the losing end of the infamous NFL fine envelope once already this year, and now he's losing again -- Meriweather's been fined another $25,000 by the league.

According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Meriweather was tagged with the fine for a late hit last Monday in Detroit, which was flagged for unnecessary roughness.

Add that to the fact that Meriweather's been benched for Week 6's game against Minnesota, and it this probably isn't the greatest week of his life. But it could get worse -- Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported on Friday evening that Meriweather could face a suspension from the league if his on-field behavior continues.

"Unless there's a drastic change in his play, he may be invited to talk to us," NFL VP Ray Anderson told King.

King did say, however, that Anderson, who is "disturbed" by Meriweather's play, wasn't necessarily guaranteeing a suspension, but he would certainly received a warning of a suspension if he continues to draw fines for illegal hits.

Meriweather was one of the players fined heavily a year ago during "Safety Week," when the NFL levied a slew of heavy fines on a number of players for illegal hits and threatened suspension. (Meriweather was fined $50,000 which was later reduced to $40,000.)

Which makes us wonder what, exactly, an NFL defender needs to do in order to warrant a suspension. Apparently, it's going to require a serious injury sustained on a clearly illegal helmet-to-helmet hit.

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 5:42 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 5:57 pm
 

Meriweather, Harris headed to bench for Bears

After four starts, Meriweather could be back on the bench. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Maybe Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was onto something when he released safety Brandon Meriweather a week before the start of the regular season. Meriweather, New England's 2007 first-round pick and a Pro Bowler in 2009 and 2010, was cut loose because, as Belichick explained at the time, "I just don't think you can pick teams, or pick your players based on what's happened in the past. You have to pick them based on what you think is going to happen this year, and that's relative to the competition, to the make of your team, and player's performance."

Translation: the Pats grew tired of watching Meriweather take bad angles and miss tackles, Pro Bowl accolades aside. He wasn't out of work long; the Bears signed him three days later. It was a one-year contract, which suggested to us at the time that the Bears weren't completely convinced Meriweather was a long-term answer in the secondary. If anything, he adds depth and experience, something Chicago lost in its preseason finale when backups Craig Steltz and Chris Conte suffered a hip injury and a concussion, respectively.

Well, five weeks later and Meriweather, a starter in the Bears' last four games, is again headed to the bench.

Details via the Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure:
Veterans Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweather are expected to be benched in favor of Major Wright and rookie Chris Conte for Sunday’s game against the Vikings, according to multiple team sources. Wright and Conte are expected to get the first-team reps at strong and free safety, respectively, during Thursday’s practice. …

Meriweather played a bit reckless throughout the game, opting for big hits rather than wrapping up for the tackle. The former New England Patriot seems to be having a tough time adjusting to a new defensive system.
Sounds familiar.

Cornerback Charles Tillman was asked how the Bears could find more consistency at safety.

"Play harder, fix the mistakes, go back to fundamentals," he said. "And the most important part is to have fun."

In other Bears-related news, if the most important ingredient to NFL success is having fun, Jay Cutler would've been out of the league a long time ago. He's perpetually dour, which undoubtedly has to do with offensive coordinator Mike Martz, whose pass-blocking-optional offensive philosophy has a way of taking the joy out of the game.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:43 am
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Vikings preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Few people are excited about this week’s Sunday Night game. The 1-4 Vikings and 2-3 Bears look like non-contenders in an NFC North division housing a pair of 5-0 clubs. This Film Room post is not about the Bears-Vikings game. We’ll touch on the matchup towards the end simply because it’d be weird not to. But the main point here is to examine why the Tampa 2 defense – which both these teams run – is on its death bed.



1. Tampa 2: What it is
The Tampa 2 (aka Cover 2) is a classic zone scheme. Four pass-rushers up front; three linebackers underneath; a left and right cornerback outside; and, as the "2" refers to, two safeties over the top.

Against the pass, as the illustration to the right (click to enlarge) shows, the safeties each cover half the field deep. The linebackers and cornerbacks each cover 1/5th of the field underneath. The middle linebacker is responsible for any vertical routes inside. Up front, the linemen shoot the gaps. There’s no blitzing.

The advantages are that all pass defenders have straightforward responsibilities and the action (for the most part) always takes place in front of them. As for the disadvantage ...

2. Run Defense
In football there are two traditional ways to stop the run: have a defensive line that wins battles in the trenches or have a strong-tackling safety drop down as an eighth man in the box. A Cover 2 naturally misses on both of these. The defensive linemen are instructed to rush the passer first and play the run if it’s convenient along the way.

Defensive line penetration is great for stopping the run, but it can be hit or miss (especially if the offense knows that the defensive linemen are trying to penetrate on every play). The safeties must stay back and cover deep. If they step forward, they run the risk of biting on play-action (which is a great way to get beat deep).

Because of this, Tampa 2 defenses rely on their linebackers and cornerbacks (yes, cornerbacks) to stop the run. More on this in item 4.
Worth noting is that not all Tampa 2 defenses are bad against the run. In fact, the Vikings and Bears have been spectacular in run defense over the years. That’s a product of phenomenal personnel.

The Vikings have had the Williams Wall at tackle (and Pat Williams actually played a nose tackle role, which is a twist on a traditional Cover 2 front) and the Bears have had star linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. But Tampa 2 teams without top-echelon run-stuffers (like the Colts) are very susceptible to the run.

3. Tampa 2 vulnerabilities
Cover 2 defenses are vanilla by nature. That was fine in the late 90s and early 2000s when the scheme was still new and offenses weren’t spreading the field every down. But complex, motion-oriented offenses have an easy time creating mismatches against a Cover 2.

Heck, even basic offensive formations can create mismatches. For example, something the Eagles do against a Cover 2 is line up their speedy receivers in minus splits (close to the formation).

Because Cover 2 cornerbacks always line up outside, this formation dictates that DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin run their routes against linebackers and safeties. Talk about a mismatch.

There are other avenues for mismatches. For a long time, Cover 2 defenses did not have No. 1 and No. 2 corners, but instead, left and right corners. If the left corner stunk, offenses would simply align their best receiver over there. Mercifully, most Cover 2 defenses (the Bears and Vikings included) have recently shown a willingness to at least move their corners from one side to the other based on where they expect certain receivers to be.

That still doesn’t mean a defense will get the corner-on-receiver matchup it desires. This past Monday, Calvin Johnson ran what amounted to a slant-and-go against the Bears’ Cover 2. Charles Tillman stayed with Johnson for about 15 yards. He should have jammed Johnson in an effort to reroute him. Instead, he played the basic Cover 2 technique, which meant he let Johnson go once Johnson went inside towards safety Chris Harris’ deep zone. That left the most athletic wideout in the world matched up on a strong safety. The result was a 73-yard touchdown.

Besides matchup issues, there are natural voids in the Cover 2 that everyone knows about. The gaps 15-20 yards downfield outside the numbers are the main ones, though the voids behind the linebackers in the seams can be enticing too. Really, Cover 2 is the new Prevent Defense. And because the Cover 2 became such a popular defense in the early 2000s, every offense in the NFL has a special chapter in its playbook specifically designed for beating it.

4. Stringent personnel needs
Obviously, a Cover 2 is not a completely hapless defense. If it were, nobody would run it. With the right personnel, the scheme can be quite viable. A great defensive line can sometimes be enough; look at the 2011 Lions or previous years’ Colts, for example (But keep in mind, great defensive lines are going to make any scheme look good.)

Because of the Cover 2’s simplicity and NFL offense’s familiarity with it, the “right personnel” has gone from being “strongly recommended” to “absolutely required”. And the bar for the “right personnel” has risen considerably.

In a Cover 2, you must generate a pass-rush with only four defensive linemen. Thus, you need top-notch speed rushers and defensive tackles with outstanding initial quickness. Those types of players are usually found only in the first rounds.
 
Because the cornerbacks only defend the first 10-15 yards outside, and because the safeties are aligned so deep, Cover 2 cornerbacks are counted on as part of the run defense. Thus, they need to be good tacklers. This is why Antoine Winfield is so potent in Minnesota’s D. Or why, in part, Ronde Barber has stuck around for so long in Tampa Bay. Or why Indianapolis always brings in firm-tackling corners.

It’s also why you’re always hearing about Tampa 2 teams needing fast linebackers. Yes, the linebackers need speed in order to play the pass (especially the middle linebacker, who must run with any targets running vertically between the numbers). But really, Tampa 2 linebacker speed is needed for stopping the run. With the cornerbacks lined up along the front, the defensive linemen are told to shoot the gaps and force runners to that help outside. It’s up to the linebackers to chase them down along the way.

Finding quality Cover 2 type players is certainly not impossible. Problem is, if you don’t have the right guy in every spot, offenses can easily punish you. If a team like the Packers has a weak spot on D, they can use disguises and zone blitz concepts to cover it. If a team like the Bears or Vikings have a weak spot, they can only hope that their defensive ends reach the quarterback before the quarterback exploits it.  

5. Studs and Duds
The star defensive players for both teams have lived up to their end of the deal. For the Bears, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has moved with more quickness and fluidity than in any of the past three seasons. Monday night’s game aside, Lance Briggs has been the fierce hitter he always is. Julius Peppers has only two sacks, but he’s been a force in bits, if not chunks. Opposite him, Israel Idonije, who has great movement skills and a real feel for executing moves based on the situation, remains one of the most underrated ends in the game.

For the Vikings, Jared Allen has recaptured his 2008/2009 form. End Brian Robison has been fast and tenacious. In fact, he’s having a much better season than Ray Edwards is having in Atlanta. As usual, defensive tackle Kevin Williams has shown his uncommon mobility/power combination. Cornerback Cedric Griffin has been stout in coverage, and E.J. Henderson, while not always great versus the pass, remains a smart, assertive downhill force against the run.
 
The problem is both teams have had a propensity to give up big plays, in part due to iffy play at safety. It’s worse with the Bear than the Vikings. But, on the flip side, the Vikings’ offense has been worse than the Bears’. We could write a thousand posts explaining what’s wrong with both offenses. In short, neither has a good line nor the receivers necessary for their respective systems.

Perhaps this is the week that these offenses find their rhythms through the air. After all, both will be facing plenty of Cover 2 looks.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 6 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 9:43 am
Edited on: October 12, 2011 10:51 am
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 5



Posted by Will Brinson

Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 5 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman     Cutler  Rogers  Janikowski  Harbaugh
Prisco     Best  Wilson  Novak  Jackson
Brinson Green-Ellis  Allen  Janikowski  Frazier
Katzowitz  R-berger  Wilson  Janikowski  Harbaugh
Wilson  R-Berger  Barnett  Janikowski  Schwartz
Week 5's in the books and so are our ballots -- let's recap exactly why people won what they won.

Jay Cutler got a vote because even though he lost, the Bears offensive line is embarrassing. But Ben Roethlisberger, who plays behind an inept line as well, got more votes for his ability to play through injury and do what Ben do.

On defense, beating the Eagles is still considered impressive apparently, because George Wilson (and Nick Barnett) were mentioned the most and pick up our Eye on Defense awards.

Sebastian Janikowski, aka the Polish Cannon, was nearly a unanimous selection for Eye on Special Teams -- he was one Nick Novak vote away from sweeping the award this week, and it's understandable given he bombed three fifty-yard field goals.

For Eye on Coaching, things were much different -- Hue Jackson was the emotional favorite heading in, but Jim Harbaugh's business-like beatdown of the Bucs garnered him enough support to pick up the award.

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Ryan Wilson
Jay Cutler Jay Cutler, QB, Bears
He didn't the win game. His statistics weren't great but it's rare to see a quarterback get the living hell beat of him like that and keep fighting. Fighting. That's not a word commonly associated with Cutler especially since half of league went on Twitter and trashed his toughness during that debacle of a playoff game last season. The only guy I saw get beat up more was Mark Sanchez against Baltimore. Cutler and Matt Forte almost single-handedly kept the Bears in the game.
Darren McFaddenBen Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
It took a sprained left foot to the franchise quarterback and injuries up and down the roster, but the Steelers' offense -- and Roethlisberger -- looked crisp and efficient against the Titans. Big Ben finished with five touchdowns, and 24 of 34 passing, with many of the completions coming on three-step drops. Funny how that works.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Jahvid Best Jahvid Best, RB, Lions
Best ran for163 yards on 12 carries, including an 88-yard touchdown run against the Bears Monday night that helped give the Lions a 21-10 win. He averaged 13.6 per carry. Best has big-play ability that compliments the Lions' wide-open passing game.
BenJarvus Green-EllisBenJarvus Green-Ellis
"The Law Firm" was supposed to lose carries to Stevan Ridley heading into the Jets game. So much for that -- Ellis won on summary judgment against Rex Ryan's defense, running for 136 yards and two TDs on 27 carries, using a punishing physicality to help the Patriots seal a crucial division victory.
Josh Katzowitz
Ben RoethlisbergerBen Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
We got word that Roethlisberger and his bad foot were limping around the locker room before the game. But after throwing for five touchdowns in Pittsburgh’s blowout win, Roethlisberger was either faking or it was just another “too tough to know any better” performances. He also did a nice job of adjusting in order to make up for a beat-up offensive line.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Wilson
Carlos RogersCarlos Rogers, CB, 49ers
He returned a Tampa Bay interception 31 yards for a touchdown. It was a good play but the truth is that entire 49ers defense deserved the award. They gave up just three points and you can see the 49ers start to take on the no-nonsense personality of the coach. This is what the 49ers had hoped to do when the organization hired Mike Singletary.
Nick Barnett Nick Barnett, LB, Bills
He intercepted Vick twice, including a pick-six. Of course, beating the Eagles isn't quite as prestigious as it was a month ago, but given the Bills' recent history, I'm guessing they won't quibble.

Prisco Brinson
George WilsonGeorge Wilson, S, Bills
Wilson doesn't get a lot of due, but he should. He was all over the field against the Eagles. He had 11 tackles, three passes defensed, an interception and a tackle for loss. He was everywhere in the Bills upset of the Eagles.
Jared AllenJared Allen, DE, Vikings
Allen did what he's done all year -- disrupt the passer. But this time, the Vikings finally won. Allen harassed Kevin Kolb into an absolutely horrible game, sacking him twice, picking up three tackles, three QB hits and recovering a fumble. Give Minny's D credit for finally holding a lead.
Katzowitz
George Wilson George Wilson, Nick Barnett, Bills
The Bills just keep on winning, and Sunday’s victory was a credit to their D. Wilson was all over the field with 11 tackles and a pick, and Barnett returned a Vick interception for a TD and then picked Vick again in the fourth quarter as the Eagles were driving for a potential game-tying touchdown.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Wilson
Sebastian JanikowskiSebastian Janikowski, K, Raidersy K
Janikowski tied an NFL record with three field goals of 50 yards or more. Not bad for a former fat boy party dude. Few players not named Vick have improved their public image over the years better than Janikowski. He's always had a strong leg but these days he's more disciplined and his accuracy and ability to boot long kicks makes him a terrific scoring threat.
Sebastian Janikowski Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders
He was 4 for 4 on field-goal attempts, none closer than 42 yards. Janikowski also converted from 55, 54 and 50. We almost expected him to run on the field and intercept Matt Schaub in the end zone on the last play of the game, too.
Prisco Brinson
Nick NovakNick Novak, K, Chargers
When the Chargers lost Nate Kaeding for the season on opening day with a knee injury, there was great concern about the kicking game. Novak has alleviated those fears. He made all five of his field goals against Denver and hasn't missed this season.
Sebastian JanikowskiSebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders
As awesome as the Polish Cannon's headshot is, I might just name him special teams player of the week every week from here on out. But he deserved it in Week 5, accounting for 13 of the Raiders 25 points with a 4-4 day, including three field goals longer than 50 yards each.
Katzowitz
Sebastian Janikowski Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders
He kicked a 54-yard field goal and followed that up with a 55-yarder. Then, one from 50 and one from 42. It was fitting on this day in particular because he had been selected in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft. By Al Davis.
 
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Wilson
Jim HarbaughJim Harbaugh, 49ers
The 49ers are 4-1. Repeat: the formerly sorry ass 49ers and their formerly sorry quarterback Alex Smith are 4-1. Harbaugh has been able to make Smith into a viable quarterback threat. Repeat: Alex Smith is good. How'd that happen?: Harbaugh, that's how.
Jim SchwartzJim Schwartz, Lions
The Lions are 5-0, including Monday night's win over the Bears in their biggest game in more than a decade. For some perspective, Detroit won five games in a season or fewer six times during Matt Millen's eight-year reign of terror.

Prisco Brinson
Hue JacksonHue Jackson, Raiders
With the death of owner Al Davis hanging over this team, Jackson got his team ready to upset a good Houston team on the road. That takes keeping the focus. The Raiders are playing much better this season, and Jackson deserves the credit.
Leslie FrazierLeslie Frazier, Vikings
Good on Frazier for holding onto a lead and winning his first game as a full-time head coach in Minnesota -- Frazier's tenure with the Vikings started off ... interestingly, with the Vikings blowing a slew of double-digit leads. Sunday was a critical win for Frazier and the Vikes.
Katzowitz
Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh, 49ers
I thought about giving this award to Hue Jackson, just because of the emotion of the weekend with Al Davis’ death, but the 49ers are 4-1 and coming off a 48-3 destruction of pretty decent Buccaneers squad. You read that right: 4-1 and 48-3. That’s on Harbaugh.
 

Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:24 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 9:15 am
 

Give Jay Cutler credit for managing to stay alive

Posted by Will Brinson

A few weeks ago, Tony Romo showed up on a Monday night with a couple broken ribs, beat the Redskins and was showered with praise for the next week. Jay Cutler didn't have anything broken (that we know of) before Monday night's 24-13 loss in Detroit, and he didn't win the game, but he should get some credit for his performance.

Cutler fought against a fierce Lions pass rush and an offensive line determined to start him behind the eight ball and/or leave him on the floor of Ford Field.

The offensive line committed a whopping nine false starts, and missed many more blocks, looking completely inept against Detroit's front four. At one point, a stat showed that in 33 dropbacks for Cutler, he was hurried 11 times and knocked down nine times.

Give credit to the Lions defensive line, of course, because they came at a patchwork offensive line with power (Kyle Vanden Bosch), speed (Cliff Avril and Willie Young), and potentially superhuman strength (Ndamukong Suh).

And give credit to a very rowdy and very loud home crowd at Ford Field that disrupted the Bears and remained screaming loudly 30 minutes after the game ended with Matthew Stafford doing on-field interviews.

"Nine false starts -- I don't know if I've ever been a part of that," Jim Schwartz said afterwards. "So, our hats are off to the fans here in Detroit."



Schwartz is right, but the fact of the matter is that the Bears, now 2-3 with losses to both the Lions and the Packers, don't have the offensive personnel to operate against defenses with any whiff of a pass rush.

Detroit sacked Cutler three times for a loss of 12 yards, but that doesn't begin to show the number of hurries and pressures that the Bears quarterback endured during the 39 minutes that the Bears held the ball.

Cutler rolled left, he rolled right, he ducked flying tacklers and he made a slew of fantastic plays with his feet to keep the Bears alive throughout the night, piling up 227 yards and a touchdown (with no interceptions) while going 28 for 38 on the night.

He'll catch grief from the media because the Bears continue to struggle on offense, but he shouldn't -- Mike Martz couldn't seem to realize the obvious fact that three-step drops created bigger problems for Detroit's defense, and continued to let Cutler drop deep into the pocket and get hammered by the Lions front four.

Somehow, Cutler hung in all night and almost gave the Bears a chance to win. He won't get the praise he deserves, because the Bears lost. And that's fair. But he'll probably end up catching grief because everyone seems willing to point fingers his way and/or make up fake newspaper headlines when the Bears struggle.

And that's just unreasonable, given what the absolute lack of protection Chicago gave him.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 2:48 pm
 

Podcast: Tebow talk, Week 5 Review, MNF Preview

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 5 of NFL action is almost over and what a week it was. For starters: Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow.

And let's not forget: Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow! Sorry, had to get it all out. We do talk about Tebow, natch (should he start???) but we also discuss whether the Eagles are done and whether Andy Reid is on the hot seat with his team at 1-4.

Then we wonder whether or not the Texans can hang onto their division, if the Steelers are back, whether or not the Packers can go undefeated and if Ken Wisenhunt is also on the hot seat.

Finally, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk joins the show to break down the Monday Night Football matchup between the Lions and the Bears.

All that and much, much more -- just hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 9:43 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 9:43 pm
 

Barry Sanders replaces Hank Williams Jr. on MNF

Hank Williams Jr. is out and for this week, Barry Sanders is in. (AP/US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Thursday, ESPN fired Hank Williams Jr. as the guy who sings the Monday Night Football intro. And this Monday, for the first time since 1989, someone else will rhetorically ask us if "We're ready for some football."

CBSSports.com's Will Brinson went through the painstaking effort of listing 10 acts who might replace Williams, although it appears that ESPN will be going in a different, less musical direction, at least for the rest of the 2011 season.

Minutes before Monday night's Bears-Lions game, former Lions great and Hall of Famer Barry Sanders will narrate the introduction.

Sanders spilled the beans on Twitter Thursday. As for future MNF games, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said that "This is the format we'll likely use the remainder of the season. We haven't made any decisions beyond that."

As long-suffering Lions fan and PFT.com contributor Michael David Smith wrote earlier Friday, "Regardless of what you think of Williams’ comments and ESPN’s response to those comments, we can all agree on this: There’s no one better than Barry Sanders to welcome America to football in Detroit."


The Detroit Lions haven't hosted a Monday night game in a decade. Will their return to Monday night end in a victory over the Bears? NFL.com's Pat Kirwan joins Jason Horowitz to preview this NFC North showdown.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Not all Bears excited to visit White House

Dan Hampton declined to go to the White House with his fellow 1986 teammates (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When the 1985 Super Bowl winning Bears visited the White House on Friday for the first time to celebrate their 25-year-old victory, at least one decided to stay away.

That would be Dan Hampton, a Hall of Famer who texted to ESPN Chicago that he didn’t want to go, in part because his family couldn’t be there with him. But in an earlier radio interview with WSCR 670 in Chicago, he let on there were a few more reasons he had declined the invitation.

"It's my own personal choice," Hampton said. "I don't choose to go. No family, no kids. Honey's going to the White House, and you tell your kids and your wife, 'Oh, I'm sorry. You're not invited.'

"Secondly, I'm not a fan of the guy in the White House. And third, it was 25 years ago. Let it go."

True, it was a quarter-century ago, but the Bears -- of whom President Obama is a big fan and is probably the only reason Chicago is finally getting its presidential visit -- never got their White House celebration because of the Challenger explosion in January 1986. Hampton’s decision seemed to offend another member of that squad, Steve McMichael.

"They said, 'Are you going?' Because there are a couple of my teammates that aren't going to make the trip," McMichael told ESPN Chicago. "But let me tell you something, I don't care who the president is. I don't care what's going on in the government, if I'm against a war or what. If you are somebody that the White House wants to honor, and you're a citizen of this country, it behooves you to show up and look at it like an honor and a privilege.

"I told them I'm going to have bells on."

This has become a trend lately. As CBSSports.com’s Pete Pistone points out, five NASCAR drivers declined a White House meeting last month. Although the reception was scheduled for a Wednesday, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart said they had scheduling conflicts and declined to attend.

I don’t understand the position Hampton is making. An invitation by the president should be an honor, and the one time I had a chance to shake a president’s hand -- a man with whom I disagreed on nearly every issue -- I strode up to him (I still can’t believe the Secret Service guards didn’t see me coming from the backside) and shook his hand.

I was proud to do so. It was an honor, and a moment I’ll never forget. And the next time I’m personally invited to the White House, I won’t care if it’s a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian or a member of the Green Party, I’ll attend. And then brag about it on Facebook.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com