Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ode to the greatest collection of football geniuses Ever assembled as a team

Oh Good Lord but we Chicago Bears football fans have been blessed.
Those of us alive and aware enough to have cheered on
The '85-86 World Champion Chicago Bears
Mike Singletary, the steely eyed linebacker,
If you thought he was reading the offensive sets,
Think again; he was staring into the mind of their QB
Reading that mind like an open book
(a thing which can be done by anyone, but few have
(imagined, much less trained their minds to do).
To KNOW, not merely to have anticipated well
what was coming next, and, oh, what a giant of a human being
Not first a football player, perhaps not even a close third
But first, a God-loving Family man
Who insisted that his children all share a bedroom
in preparation for the college days that would be inevitable,
such great import did he and his beloved wife place
on education and learning, that they not be spoiled young
only to be confounded older by having to learn
such lesssons as how to share, how to go with the flow,
how to get along, how to compromise
And secondly, again, even before a football player, he,
was a community man, who believed that a man must live
in the community where he earns his daily bread
and that his family should live there too, and immerse themselves
in the local legends, the local culture, the local values,
the local traditions, and a speaker, oh such a brilliant speaker
never embarrassed to speak of the Love of the Lord,
the Giver of Life to all, of his most wondrous love for we
the jewel and crown of His creations
So inspirational, so motivational, such a singular man,
such a magnificent example.
Then too, a leader, by example, and by dint of understanding
his own limited physical gifts of necessity needed to be enhanced
by a deeper understanding of the game that he played
a mirror of life itself, where one must sublimate one's own talents
and desires and impulses to be a team player,
to hold the ground that must be held, so that no space
could be available for those brilliantly gifted and oh so talented runners
so swift, able to change directions by almost 90º in mid-air
no, sometimes the ground that was his needed to be patroled
and other left to do the exciting work of tackling,
of creating turn overs, and yet,
when the time was right, and the moment presented itself
THEN, to be cobra-quick-cat-like and pounce, and bounce
and pull that runner or that receiver to the ground,
to deflect (even to intercept) that pass
to sack that quarterback.
You moved the family to Indy when you took that job,
and left your lovely home, and that school system
that had so much to offer. And then came Frisco,
smart enough to hire you, and way to impatient in firing you
scapegoating you, and while Harbaugh is given the credit,
whom is kidding whom – this was YOUR team, which
you took over midseason and made THE DECISION
to put NOT the most talented QB in the starter's slot,
but the QB whose will to win was the strongest,
and whose leadership skills were the greatest.
You coached that team to 8-8, a veritable miracle,
but then 8-8 the next year was not good enough?
For a young team that made the mistakes that a young team
will always make, and is it really any wonder that THIS year,
the 'niners are a force of nature, and likely to be one of
only two teams with any chance to beat the Pack in the NFC?
(I'm a believer, and Tice has worked a miracle with the Bears' offensive line;
And Jeff Fisher too, whom I first met when he was but a
22-year old rookie, on the links, playing in the March of Dimes /
Chicago Bears fund raiser, again, a community thing,
and young Jeffrey, he, oh so wise beyond his years,
“Yes, I understand that I'm only 5' 7”, and that I'm not fast,
BUT – in my entire football career, I've never fair caught a punt,
and never fumbled a punt return, and I know that on third and long
I can play nickel back in the prevent defense, and I truly believe
that there will always be a place for players like me
on the Chicago Bears football team. Yes sir, Jeff, there will
ALWAYS be a place for players such as you on the Chicago Bears
and may we always be so blessed, as Chicago Bears football fans
to have players such as you to represent our team.
And even when you were injured, COACH Ditka knew,
that you could contribute and mightily on the field in
a coach's capacity and man, were you EVER destined to greatness,
to be denied that ring with Tennessee only because
time ran out and your team was but one and a half yards short
of that game-winning TD. And how your greatest coaching perofrmance ever
occurred that year your team started oh and six, and you refused
to let them give up on themselves and phone it in,
NO – you became a force to be reckoned with, you willed them
to will themselves to greatness, and how for all those years
your teams won, even though they were seldom in the top eight
as far as individual talent – because individual talent
can only take a team so far – it is the willingness of the players
to buy into the team concept – to be role players
and to KNOW their roles, and te embrace their roles,
and this, THIS was your true genius; the x's and the o's
well, there are many, perhaps thousands every bit as good with them
as you are, but, and again, we see this word: LEADERSHIP,
you led by example, you taught by example, and you coached by example,
never losing your temper with a player who had given his all
(100% was all you ever demanded or expected) and perhaps
was beaten by a miraculous catch, or a stunning move,
or just a loose piece of turf, no, you NEVER made
the mistake the COACH would make (time and again)
to take out your frustrations on a player who had perforemd
as he had been taught,
OH, and the ability of you all to read character,
to know when the less talented player was THE ONE
that was needed despite the screams of the fans for the more talented one
who had not the heart; and this was the true genius
of all of you, for whom this is written
You understood character, and knew, instinctively who possessed it
in abundance, and who lacked it, and finally, the pressure
got too much for Titans' management, and you too were scapegoated,
So much simpler to fire the coach, lay on him the blame
for the under performances of the team. Fire, trade or retire half the team?
Well, it would have been right; rebuild it with men of character,
take the hits for a couple of seasons, and groom them for
that ultimate success – to play in the Super Bowl – no, that's not right,
that's only the pentultimate success – to WIN the Super Bowl
and enter into that legendary circle of Super Bowl Winners
My next pick to be head coach of the Chicago Bears
comes from a very holy trinity of coaching talent,
Singeltary, Fisher, or Tice, and it is truly a shame
That one must pick just one (or is there another way? Could in fact and deed
(a troika be employed, working together for common cause
(each paid THE SAME, because with THIS kind of coaching talent
(there ain't one that is better than the rest,
(and they would ALL be better as part of a team of coahces
(and yes, I fully understand that ultimate responsibility is vested
(in one – the primary scapegoat – in point of fact
(with the primary delineation of responsibilities clearly defined,
(why not have the head coach delegate unto the offensive coordinator
({virtually} unquestioned authority over the offense,
(and similarly, unto the defensive coordinator
({again, virtually} unquestioned authority over the defense,
(and unto special teams coordinator, unquestioned authority over special teams
(why wouldn't THAT model work?
(and the VIRTUALLY part, well, that is the part understood so well
(by the Zen-Master, Phil Jackson, who basically knew that his team
(knew what to do, and that very little was required of him during the game,
(so well did they know and understand their roles
(yes, once every so often, a vision will come to the one unto whom
(is given responsibility for receiving the vision, and for doing
(the unorthodox thing at the orthodox moment
(for knowing, sensing, on the wind, that almost silent, and yet so important
(voice that calls, “now is the time that this MAN will rise up
(and become more than he had ever glimmered before,
(now is this man's moment, and thus unto you, head coach
(is given that spiritual gift of insight, inspiration, understanding and confidence
(to know to turn it over; and THIS, this too is part of football
(but, oh, so rarely required, because the hard work, the ground work
(all that has been lain, all that preparation has been done, long before the season's
(opening kick off).
Yes, that would work, and in fact, except for the very few
and these can only do it in tandem with a field leader who mind-melds with
the head coach – e.g., Parcels and Brady; Lombardi and Starr,
Landry and Stauback, Stabler and Madden, Flutie and Ditka,
Yes, Doug Flutie, don't ever overlook THAT winning force of nature,
Tarkenton and Grant, Shannahan and
but these examples are so rare, so few and far between,
that while in theory, THIS is what a team NEEDS to establish
prior to being Super Bowl Champions, the knowledge of how to develop it,
and the acquisition of the right coach and the right QB coterminously,
well, what ought to be and what is are usually two (very) different things.
And Al Harris, he, who with me, loved the Lions in 2010,
and was not at all surprised at their successin 2011,
who went with his comrade in pads, Singletary to 'Frisco and Minnesota,
who understood so well that the niners were simply young,
and needed to learn first how to win, and then would make winning habitual,
as he and Mike molded that young team into a unit,
fully trained to be wholly accountable and to be able to make
on field executive decisions; to be FOOTBALL players,
to play as a team, to play as one, to carefully defend
that territory which was assigned, and yet to be fully confident
that they could even APPEAR to fail for having trusted their instincts,
when, without that trust, the play they ALMOST made to stop
that which was most unexpected would not have even been close,
and the unexpected play would have left the entire defense
looking foolish and ill-prepared, BUT, as is so 'oft the situation,
when a player HEARS that soft voice of the universe calling
“Statue of Liberty, stay deep” or “end around, switch ground,”
that in such moments as those, they are IN the moment,
in that Zen-like almost trance-like state that they could not explain
or perhaps even recollect as they instinctively foresaw
that insprired unorthodoxy was required to counter that thing
which was coming down and to fully embrace and run full bore
to plug the gap, to fill the hole, to make the tackle,
to RIP the ball from out of the receivers' hands, to create the fumble
to recover the fumble, to pick up and run with the fumble,
and, oh, Good Lord, to leteral the fumble to the streaking teammate
who read too what was a' comin' down,
TOUCHDOWN from out of nowhere, and the barely hanging on to the
three point lead just turned in to a 10-point margin, NOT
comfortable, but with some wiggle room, especially since NOW
you have forced them into an onsides kicking situation,
and as long as your special teams coach ensures
that only the sure handed are up front and that they
fully understand their mission is to catch and hold on to the kick
this game has now gotten out of reach,
but, the ground work was lain much earlier, and the special teams' coach
doesn't really have to remind the players what to do
BUT HE WILL BECAUSE HE MUST, just to reinforce,
game over, victory win – celebrate now – Monday off -
except for the coaches, because NOW their real job begins -
watching film, watching film, watching film all through Sunday night,
all through Monday, sacrificing family (family understands, they simply must)
in order to perform the job they are paid to do
to win by dint of working harder and more diligently,
preparing completely, and that is the coach's lot,
that is the coach's life – we celebrate not until the season is done -
for as long as there is another game to be won,
we must prepare and prepare some more so that the players
can be told what's in store, and on what they must give extra focus to
because no two opponents are the same, and we must always
expect that next week's foe will be at the top of their game,
and we cannot let down, we, ever-prepared must be
to lead on to another victory.
God Bless you All, our Chicago Bears – forever Orange and Blue -
Papa George is watching over you, and we too, and we too.