And now we come to the gravest error of our time, a mistake that, left uncorrected, might tear our city apart.
The name should be Mitch Trubisky, not Mitchell Trubisky.
Mitch Trubisky sounds like a football player from Chicago. Mitchell Trubisky sounds like an accountant from Oak Lawn.
Some of the blame falls on Trubisky, who started off in the public eye as Mitch, switched to Mitchell before the NFL Scouting Combine because that’s his mom’s preference and since has said he doesn’t care what you call him. Pick a lane, kid, as long as it’s North Mitch Avenue. But let’s be clear: Most of the blame lands at the feet of anyone who would choose Mitchell over Mitch.
This came to a head Saturday night, at least for me — and who else matters? Calling the Bears-Cardinals preseason game, Fox-32 announcers Sam Rosen and Jim Miller insisted on identifying the rookie quarterback as Mitchell, possibly because they’re tragically misguided but more likely because the accountant lobby has gotten to them with promises of bigger federal tax refunds.
Most Bears fans are obsessed with the Trubisky-Mike Glennon battle. They need to get their quarterback-controversy priorities straight. We’re talking about naming rights here — or at least getting the name right. We’re talking about legacy. We’re talking about endorsement opportunities. If you were Vienna Beef, wouldn’t you rather have Mitch Trubisky hawking your hot dogs? Of course. That sounds Chicago.
In the way that Richard Butkus doesn’t.
A Nexis search shows how insidious the problem is. Since the combine, when Trubisky informed reporters he wanted to be called Mitchell, 543 stories in major U.S. newspapers have used Mitchell and 679 have used Mitch. In wire-service stories, including the Associated Press, he has been referred to as Mitchell 380 times and as Mitch 278 times.
We at the Sun-Times prefer Mitch (192 references), but we’ve called him Mitchell 26 times, including as recently as Aug. 2. A Sun-Times headline April 28 identified him as Mitch, but the story called him Mitchell.
We’re a house divided. And I can’t stand it.
Mitchell is what a mom yells when she comes home to a broken window, a baseball on the floor and no kid in sight. Thus, it’s no surprise that Trubisky’s mom, Jeanne, has a lot to do with the unfortunate Mitchell movement.
‘‘Someone asked me what my mom preferred, and that was the answer,’’ Trubisky told reporters in March. ‘‘She prefers Mitchell. It doesn’t bother me if you call me Mitch because a lot of people call me Mitch, including my teammates. They both sound good.
‘‘I was trying to do my mom a favor, and it actually made her happy. So, despite the media whirlwind that it kicked up into, my mom was happy. If I can do that for my mom, I really don’t care.’’
I can see that the above quote likely costs me all momentum. Who doesn’t love a loving son putting a smile on his mom’s face? At the risk of being bombarded by a fusillade of happy, tear-soaked tissues, though, this issue is bigger than the wonderful bond between a mother and a son.
I can say that all I want, but one has to go to the source if one wants change. So I reached out Monday to Jeanne Trubisky to settle this, once and for all.
‘‘At home [in Mentor, Ohio], everybody calls him Mitchell,’’ she said. ‘‘I would say most of his guy buddies or coaches call him Mitch. But family, friends — everybody calls him Mitchell. If you call him Mitch, he’s really not going to correct you. But when he signs his autograph, it’s Mitchell.’’
I told her we have to do something about this for all the persuasive reasons mentioned above, the biggest being that Mitch Trubisky just sounds like a football player and Mitchell Trubisky doesn’t.
‘‘When I named my kids, I thought about whether it would sound good on a school loudspeaker,’’ she said. ‘‘With our last name, I decided a first name with two syllables sounded better. That’s why I picked Mitchell and not Mitch. I know Mitch sounds more manly, but I call him Mitchell David. That’s his name.’’
Clearly, I was up against something bigger than I had imagined.
‘‘When he first got recruited to North Carolina, I had the coach sitting at my table, and I told him it was Mitchell,’’ Jeanne Trubisky said. ‘‘Then they went ahead and put Mitch on the program. They did not listen to me. To this day, I’ll say to [Tar Heels coach] Larry Fedora, ‘I told you it was Mitchell.’ I’m one of those mothers that, if I’m going to give my kids names, that’s what they’re going to be called.’’
But she does understand there are differing opinions. She likes Mitchell; others like Mitch.
I’m glad I cleared this up.
In the name of journalistic accuracy, I asked her if her name is spelled J-e-a-n-n-e.
‘‘Yes, but you’re going to laugh: People call me Jeannie,’’ she said. ‘‘My real name is Jeanne. The ‘ne’ is actually silent.’’
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.