John Fox won’t fix Bears’ problems alone

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The Bears won’t be automatic winners under John Fox when they still have Jay Cutler and other ongoing problems. | Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

I’ll join the masses and say that the Bears’ hiring of John Fox was a nice thing.

But am I blown away?

Not really.

I never heard, for instance, at any time in the previous decade or so of Bears history, ‘‘Oh, if we only had John Fox as our coach, how wonderful life would be!’’

A football team is so much more than its coach, and sometimes folks don’t want to admit this. Mike Ditka has always said that if you don’t have the player talent, you can’t win.

It may be the so-called amateur game, but when Ohio State beat Oregon for the college national championship a week ago and everyone saluted Urban Meyer as the genius coach, all I could think was, ‘‘How many schools anywhere have a third-string quarterback like Cardale Jones?’’

It’s interesting that in currently $7-million-a-year Alabama coach Nick Saban’s second season as coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2006, he went 6-10 because he didn’t have a great quarterback, and then he quit.

You go, John Fox! But the ferret in that box over there is named Jay Cutler, and he’s yours. Hope you’ve got gloves and a plan.

FOOTBALL PULLS US TWO WAYS. We love it. And now, more than ever, we fear it.

Head trauma is the boogeyman these days — and, sadly, he wanders the field unabated.

There’s a cautionary story written recently for the Huffington Post by a 20-year-old former high school player named Journey Bailey. The young man was injured in a junior-varsity game in 2010 while making a tackle and received a concussion — the last of half a dozen in his brief career — that caused a subdural hematoma (brain bleed) requiring surgery. Bailey’s in junior college now, but he’s not whole. As he says in his piece:

‘‘Although I am grateful to be alive, I did not walk away .   damage-free. Depression, suicidal thoughts, skull disfigurement, a higher risk of developing dementia and a severely plummeting scholastic GPA are some of the most prominent side effects of having sustained so many concussions. The bottom line is I am only a fraction of the person I used to be. And that’s what hurts the most.’’

Go online and read it all. Scary.

SOMETIMES I WONDER if we ever learn anything about ourselves as people.  We do ‘‘human’’ things and we make snap moral decisions that ultimately are wrong and embarrassing — and unethical — and then, you guessed it, we do it all over again.

So now the NCAA has given back 112 Penn State football wins to dead former coach Joe Paterno, three years after all those W’s were taken away and Paterno died.  In the rush to judgment after the disgust and anger over the harboring of pedophile assistant coach Jerry Sandusky on Paterno’s staff,  the NCAA knee-jerked Joe Pa into near oblivion.

We need somebody to be really mad at in these situations. We need a scapegoat, a whipping boy, a symbol for all that we are not or refuse to believe in.  Paterno had slowly built his way to heroic status, a near saint in the dicey world of big-time college sport, and everybody wanted to see him punished for being unaware that a child molester had long been his defensive coordinator.

Paterno deserved blame, but obviously not this much. Otherwise, the NCAA wouldn’t have settled the legal mess this way. Paterno once again has 409 career victories, putting him back in first place ahead of Bobby Bowden, Pop Warner, Bear Bryant and Amos Alonzo Stagg. Hope he knows that in his grave.

Can the return of the removed Paterno statue in front of Beaver Stadium be far behind? Of course not. The initial outrage is over. Nobody cares as much anymore.

So will we do this again?

Absolutely. We did it when we used ‘‘enhanced interrogation’’ in the heat of the post-9/11 moment. We did it when we put Japanese-Americans in camps during World War II. We did it when we thought Richard Jewell was the Atlanta Olympics bomber. We do it whenever there’s a scandal in big-time sport because we’re outraged — outraged — it’s gotten to this point.

Paterno’s son, Jay, said the Penn State athletic department’s reputation ‘‘was allowed to be sacrificed on the altar of expediency in the panic of the day.’’

NCAA president Marc Emmert said, ‘‘We all hope that we never find ourselves in a position like this.’’

But they will. We will.

That’s how we roll.


Twitter: @ricktelander

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