It’s May, and we’re talking … Bears.
The draft is done, training camp doesn’t start for another two months, and we’re talking … Bears.
As I’ve perused Chicago newspapers and websites the past few weeks, I’ve seen tons of articles and photos about the team. I now know more about some of the Bears’ draft picks that any person not called “Mom’’ or “Dad” should know. The amount of coverage didn’t come out of nowhere. It didn’t come from the whim of editors. It came from the insatiable appetites of a large group of readers.
In other words, I’m blaming you.
The readership stats back it up: You care a lot about the Bears. You want to read about them. You want to know about their NFL-approved “organized team activities,” which makes me think of potato sack races and water balloon fights. You want to know what they think about climate change and the switch to the 3-4 defense, which some of you, I’m certain, believe are the same thing. And we, being in the reader business, give you what you want.
It’s often said that there’s no offseason in the NFL. That’s not true. There is an offseason. The only surprise is that the league hasn’t figured out a way to sell tickets or naming rights to it.
In 1989, the NFL introduced Plan B free agency. I remember it like I remember back spasms. Each team was allowed to protect 37 players, with the rest becoming restricted free agents. The rest were not stars and were never going to be stars. I was covering an NFL team at the time, and the morning after the system made its debut, the front page of the competition’s sports section had a story about a backup linebacker being pursued by three other teams.
My first thought was one of self-preservation, that clearly this wasn’t a newsworthy story. My second thought was one of arrogance, that I wanted to write interesting stories that people would actually read. It wasn’t until the third thought – that maybe my competition had tapped in to the ravenous reading habits of football fans – that the truth dawned on me:
Whatever scraps fall from the NFL’s table, people eat them up.
It’s May, the Cubs and White Sox are both interesting stories and we’re talking … Bears.