Saturday, June 14, 2008

Much Respect Due

At the end of a short piece by Vaughn McClure on Kevin Jones' interest in playing for the Bears (an interest that I hope is reciprocated by the team), the Chicago Tribune noted that individual tickets for Bears games will go on sale through Ticketmaster on July 12th. Price? $68 to $350 per game. Though it is steep, I will (again) be tempted to venture out to Chicago this season for a game. In addition to their NFC North rivals, the Bears will also host the Buccaneers, Eagles, Titans, Jaguars, and Saints this season.

While I doubt that the team will be any good this season -- the turnover on the offensive side of the ball alone is staggering -- there is much that warrants the continuation of the annual pilgrimage to Soldier Field. For instance, rather than thinking about Ron Turner and descending into a white hot seething rage, it is useful to perhaps pause on the nice story that Marcus Robinson presented earlier this week. Robinson returned to the Bears to officially retire from football and, in his final press conference as an NFL player, explained "This is where I started. This is where I always wanted to end. I live here. This is my home." I would hope that most Bears fans share the same sentiments: Mr. Robinson was a tremendous Bear who had one glorious and wholly unexpected season for the team (1,400 yards and 9 TDs in 1999), who we were all sad to see hurt, and found it somewhat difficult to cheer against him when he was in a Vikings uniform. An undrafted player, Mr. Robinson did more in a Bears uniform than anyone reasonably expected. I proudly have a replica jersey of his hanging in my closet.

The warm memories rekindled by Mr. Robinson's return to Halas are further augmented by the fact that our receiving corps next year will feature Marty Booker, another overperforming, undrafted wideout who played opposite to Mr. Robinson in his final years in Chicago. Mr. Booker's first departure from the team was not amicable; he took shots at Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo on his way to Miami. But Mr. Booker, like Mr. Robinson, were beloved Bears -- the perfect antidote to the malady of players like Cedric Benson who neither loved Bears' fans nor were loved by them. In return trips home, I have found myself consistently amused by the poster of Marty Booker prominently displayed in my wife's favorite Chicago pizza joint. Now the display seems particularly apt. For both Mr. Robinson and Mr. Booker, the city simply has been waiting for them to return home. Welcome back.

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