Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.
Kindt carries on tradition with Bears
Originally published Aug. 25, 1985
When Don Kindt Sr. went to Platteville to watch his son, Don Jr., a free-agent tight end, the difference was like night and day.
“For one thing, the workouts in Platteville were open to the public,” Kindt said. “In Rensselaer Ind., George Halas had guys going through the cornfields to make sure nobody was spying on us.”
But some things remain the same.
“It’s the exposure you get and what you do with it. I saw a lot of good players who didn’t make it because they didn’t have an opportunity,” said the elder Kindt, the Bears’ first-round pick in 1947 who played for nine years with the Bears, primarily as a defensive back.
“I can remember when Harlon Hill came up from a little school in Alabama. Nobody had heard of him, but he went on to catch 12 touchdowns his rookie year. George Halas tore up his contract and gave him a new one in mid-season.”
The younger Kindt, who played at Wisconsin-La Crosse, faces an uphill battle to win a job on the Bears’ regular-season roster, since he’s competing with three veterans – Emery Moorehead, Pat Dunsmore and Tim Wrightman – for three jobs. With Dunsmore sidelined by a pulled muscle, the three healthy tight ends will have more time to divide Monday in Dallas.
The 6-7, 245-pound Kindt has impressed coach Mike Ditka because his size and quickness (a 4.7 40-yard time) offer a lot of potential. “He’s a physical kid, something to work with. He doesn’t look much different than Dallas tight end Doug Cosbie when he started,” Ditka said.
“He needs work on his blocking, but we can develop that. That’s why they call us coaches.”
Kindt knows what he needs to work on. “I need to stay low and use my hands more,” he said. “Being so tall, I have a tendency to stand up too much when I’m blocking.”
Having a head coach who was an outstanding tight end has its pluses and minuses, Kindt said.
“He works with us closely in the morning practices,” he said. “He helps you a lot, but he also spots your mistakes. You can tell he really knows how to play the position.”
Last spring, Kindt the father acted as agent for Kindt the son, who is known as Deke (as in “D.K.”) around the house. A sixth-round pick by the USFL Oakland Invaders, Deke decided not to go that route, partly because he didn’t want to drop out of last semester’s classes. He needs one semester of field work to complete a degree in recreation administration and would like to pursue a career in corporate fitness.
A broken leg kept him from playing his senior year at Brookfield (Wis.) High School, and cooled interest from major colleges. He had planned on transferring to a larger school, but a stress fracture turned Kindt into a redshirt in his first season at La Crosse, so he decided to stay put.
Kindt said he grew up hearing Bears’ stories from his father. “It was different when Dad was playing,” Kindt said. “I think he broke his nose nine times. They just set ’em, stuffed cotton up his nose and sent him back in. They made good money for the times, but it was more of a game. When you play without a face mask, you’ve got to be different.”
The elder Kindt, a college star at Wisconsin who now is a salesman for Badger Meter Manufacturing in the Milwaukee area, retains a lot of fond memories.
“You learned a lesson in economics from George Halas at contract time,” Kindt said. “Every time you mentioned money, the phone would ring or a secretary would walk in. He’d always divert you.”
As a rookie, Kindt said, Halas kept bringing up the championship money the Bears had earned the year before, in 1946. “You could buy a fur coat for your wife with that money,” Halas told him.
Trouble was, the Bears didn’t win another title until 1956, the year after Kindt retired. “My wife didn’t get a fur coat until a couple of years ago, and then, she bought it herself,” laughed Kindt, who has kept up with his old playing pals, including three Georges – Blanda, Connor and McAfee.
As for making good on his chances, the younger Kindt is determined to show improvement in Dallas tomorrow after what he considered a disappointing debut in Soldier Field last weekend.
“I didn’t concentrate. Maybe it was the excitement of being in Soldier Field the first time. But I’m not going to let that happen again.”