Tag:Chicago Bears
Posted on: June 8, 2011 7:00 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 9:17 pm

49ers Hall of Famers donate brains for research

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Player safety is arguably the biggest issue facing the NFL. If the league can't regulate the constant threat of serious injury -- or worse -- out of the game, one long-term possibility (albeit remote given its current popularity) is that fans will grow tired of the brutality and professional football will go the way of boxing.

Which is to say: It could become a niche sport, and niche sports aren't multi-billion dollar industries. This should trouble NFL owners more than how to split 10-figure revenues with players.

If you can get past the political grandstanding, player safety was the primary impetus for the sudden rule changes midway through the 2010 season. That said, a few press conferences about reinforcing points of emphasis is a long cry from alleviating concussions and head trauma.

But as Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward has said countless times in recent months, playing this sport is a choice. "I understand where [the league is] coming from, but at the same time, you can't protect football. It's a violent sport. If you want to protect it, we need to play flag football.”

That doesn't mean the NFL shouldn't explore ways to reduce head injuries, or that medical research about the effects of 300-pound guys running full speed into each other shouldn't continue, just that there are inherent dangers in this line of work.

Which brings us to 49ers Hall of Famers Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson. Perry was 84 years old when he died this April, and Johnson passed away Friday at the age of 81. The Sacramento Bee's Matthew Barrows writes that the former running backs' brains will be examined at Boston University for evidence of dementia-like disease brought on by repeated trauma to the head.

Details via Barrows:
Perry's spouse, Donna, said she suspected Perry was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The condition previously had been associated with boxers but has recently been found in a number of ex-NFL players. …

Johnson's daughter, Kathy Moppin, said she is filling out the paperwork to have her father's brain examined. Moppin took care of her father, known as a punishing blocker, for the past nine years. She said his condition affected everything about him, from his memory to his ability to speak and walk.
Barrows notes that chronic traumatic encephalopathy has been detected in more than 20 deceased players, including former Bears defensive back Dave Duerson, who committed suicide earlier this year at the age of 50. Shortly before taking his life, Duerson sent a text message to family members asking that his brain be donated for research.

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine announced the results in May: Duerson had brain damage.

The NFL isn't part of the Boston University study, but it gave $1 million last year and, according to Barrows, has encouraged players to donate their brains for research.

But here's the thing: Everybody's on board with making the game safer. The problem is that the NFL is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Decreeing six weeks into the 2010 season that rules violators will suffer swift, severe penalties was unpopular, but it sent a zero-tolerance message to the players. But the commissioner can't then turn around and prattle on about expanding the NFL season to 18 games because it's what the fans want (even though, you know, they don't).

The takeaway? If you ever find yourself questioning someone's motives, it inevitably comes down to one thing: money. The NFL is no different. Thankfully, despite what Roger Goodell might say publicly, fans aren't interested in more regular-season games, and players refused to discuss it during labor negotiations.

As one player told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman last month, "We view it as a health issue and quality of life issue." Which, frankly, is how we should all view it.

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Posted on: June 4, 2011 1:16 pm

Sayers: Current players need to help NFL alums

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Clearly, former Bears great Gale Sayers doesn’t mind speaking publicly about the thoughts that bounce around his brain all day. In the past, he’s talked about the problems with the Chicago organization and why Devin Hester KR might need to show more versatility in order to have a chance at the Hall of Fame.

So, it makes sense that he’d be disappointed in the way the current players think about the players that paved the way for them, and it makes sense that he’d share those thoughts with us.

Sayers speaks
"Some players of today's game think that they made the game what it is today. I beg to differ," Sayers said, via the Associated Press, Friday night at an event hosted by the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund. "The players who are playing today are standing on the shoulders of those who made the game what it is that played the game for peanuts.

"If today's players cannot help these players, shame on you."

Former Bears coach Mike Ditka, who’s been an outspoken ally for the NFL alumni, also weighed in on the issue of the day.

"If they want to fix the pension for former players, all they have to do is match what baseball does for their former players. They have the best pension in all of sports," Ditka said. "I'm fighting for the disability and the medical help that we need. One thing the current players should be fighting is for medical care for after their careers. Not for five years, but for 20, 30, 40 years. We're finding guys who are 50, 60, 70, they're suffering from head injuries and everything else."

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Category: NFL
Posted on: May 26, 2011 9:41 pm

Odd communication rules for Jairus Byrd and dad

J. Byrd Posted by Andy Benoit

Gill Byrd is the defensive backs coach for the Chicago Bears and father of Bills safety Jairus Byrd. The rules of the lockout prevent coaches from speaking to players. But preventing a father from speaking to his son is absurd (right?), so the NFL came up with an only slightly absurd solution: logging the conversation.

"(My dad) has to report it and write down what we talked about and whatever," Jairus Byrd told ESPN.com’s Tim Graham. "I don't have to jot anything down, though. To me, I just talk to him like I always have. That's his problem."

Good thing Jairus is well past the age of receiving the birds and bees talk. Can you imagine having to give your employer a log of that discussion?

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Posted on: May 24, 2011 8:20 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 8:44 pm

Hot Routes 5.24.11 Belichick's latest honor

Posted by Will Brinson and Andy Benoit

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Not to be outdone (or wait, actually, they were slightly outdone) were the Raiders, who had 34 players show up for their workouts in Georgia.

Posted on: May 23, 2011 8:12 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 7:26 am

Bears RB Garrett Wolfe arrested

Posted by Andy Benoit

Sunday was a bad day for Bears running back Garrett Wolfe. The 2007 third-round draftG. Wolfe pick was arrested in Miami Beach and charged with retail theft, disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest with violence. Bond was set at $11,500.

The whole thing reportedly started when Wolfe refused to pay his $1,572 bill at Cameo Night Club in Miami. ‘‘He became aggressive while being ejected by bouncers, and two off-duty officers were summoned,’’ Officer Juan Sanchez said, via the Chicago Sun Times. ‘‘They gave him the opportunity to settle his bill, and he refused. He attacked one of the officers. Both officers suffered minor injuries.’’ And, judging from his mug shot, so did Wolfe.

According to a later report by Neil Hayes of the Sun Times, Wolfe smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. He threatened to sue the officers and at one point said, “Let’s compare bank accounts.”

This could prove to be very costly in the long run. The diminutive third-down back is a free agent and has not consistently shown the playmaking prowess that made him a third-round pick. Even before this episode, it would have been risky for a team to sign Wolfe.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: May 23, 2011 3:02 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 5:51 pm

Bears' rook J.T. Thomas steps in as a prom date

Posted by Will Brinson

Generally, you wouldn't want to hear that an NFL player went out on date with an eighth-grader. But that's not the case with this story out of Morgantown, W.Va. That's where Bears rookie and former Mountaineer J.T. Thomas stepped in and took Joslyn Levell, who suffers from spina bifida, to her prom.

Thomas, whose autistic brother rides the same school bus as Levell, met her while dropping his brother off at the bus stop.

Turns out, Levell, who happens to be a big Bears fan, had been unable to secure a date for the prom and told the NFL player about it.

"I hugged her and signed a few things and we talked for awhile and she cried a bit," Thomas said. "I gave her a hug and told her everything would work itself out."

It sure did. Thomas' stepmom, Rochelle, checked with the school to see if it'd be all right for Thomas to escort Levell. Once they were clear, he asked her to the dance.

"I was nervous that by the time I reached out she might have had a date and would have to turn me down," he said.

Obviously she didn't, and they went to the dance together this past Friday, where Levell may or may not have emphasized her date's stature as an NFL player.

"The first thing one of the boys who was mean to me came up to me and said, 'I'm sorry I didn't believe you,' " Levell said. "It was soooo exciting. I'm just so excited to go to school and see what everyone has to say."

And the best part of all is that Thomas didn't do this to generate publicity.

"This was Joslyn's night," Thomas said. "It wasn't about me."

Certainly not, but in an offseason filled with stories that paint the NFL and its players in a negative light, it's refreshing to see a young player like Thomas pull off an incredibly selfless act.

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Photo via NFL.com
Posted on: May 19, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 5:00 pm

Hot Routes 5.19.11: Beck's mullet retrospective

Posted by Will Brinson

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • I don't know why, but I just can't quit John Beck. Whatever the Redskins would-be starter is doing is just making me wish more and more that he DOES end up starting. Of course, Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post isn't exactly doing much to kill my mancrush by posting a retrospective look at Beck's mullet. Which probably tells you worse things about me than it does Beck, but whatever.
Posted on: May 17, 2011 11:42 pm

Cutler takes shots from Congressman Paul Ryan

Posted by Andy Benoit

Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, thanks to his aggresJ. cutler (US Presswire)sively conservative budget proposal and ensuing media tour last month during the federal budget battle, has become something of a star. Now,the chairman of the House Budget Committee is making his debut in the Eye on Football blog thanks to some playful potshots he took at Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Ryan recently gave a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago and, according to Fox News, chose to break the ice by saying, "I want to thank you all for inviting me to speak. It was especially gracious of you to host me, even though I'm a Packers fan and I assume most of you are Bears fans. But that doesn't mean we can't work together. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, I stand ready to do whatever it takes to help you re-sign Jay Cutler.”

Then, he added, "I'm here to talk about the economy today -- about the need to get four quarters of strong, consistent performance. That wasn't another Jay Cutler joke, I swear. It could be, but it's not."


In breaking down Ryan’s joke, it’s difficult to ascertain whether or not he is an educated fan. The last dig at Cutler was a clever reference to the NFC Championship knee injury controversy, but any common fan is still aware of that story. Ryan’s first dig is more enigmatic. He mentions re-signing Cutler, which isn’t a relevant issue given that Cutler is signed through 2013. But to say you’re a Packers fan and you’re willing to do all you can to help the Bears re-sign Cutler could be a veiled way of saying “Cutler stinks”. This makes Ryan’s quote just like all his other quotes: debatable and a matter of interpretation.

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Category: NFL
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