Frankie O's Blog: The True Meaning

Frankie O's Blog: The True Meaning

Friday, Jan. 7, 2011
11:46 AM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

You hear that a lot during the holidays. The true meaning is at the core of it all. The true meaning of Christmas is love for one and all. I try telling that to my 4-year old, but shes still more interested in that jolly old fat guy who slides into her house leaving presents. No, not her father! He leaves a trail! Then there is the New Year, which brings hope of a better future and new beginning for mankind. That is, if that future includes using a shake-weight for the next month and eating low-carb sandwiches at Subway with Jared. The true meaning of the New Year is doing all those things we put off from last year, isnt it?

Then there is the BCS. Im still trying figure out its true meaning. 35 bowl games?! Honestly?! Without a playoff?! With the 70 team field littered with 6-6 records? I wont get into the farce that was the Sugar Bowl. With the allowance of the New Fab-Five for Ohio State (Why should Michigan have the only Fab-Five in the Big Ten that will live in infamy? These schools compete at every level!) to play in the game, it became apparent to all that the true meaning of B.C.S. is Big Cash Soiree. And were all invited as long as we pay, but please make that check out to the university and not the kids we want to watch play. (A triple rhyme? 2011 must be Frankie o time!)

But the true meaning that I get asked about constantly at the bar is about the 2010 NFL regular season. What did it mean? Well judging from my confidence picks, Im probably the last person to ask. (I won week 1, then did not get another sniff until week 16, when all I needed was a Tuesday night win by my Eagles to win the pot. I hate Tuesday NFL games!) But of course that doesnt stop me from having an opinion, whether Im right or not well have to wait until this weekend to see.

These next two weekends are the best the NFL has to offer, in my mind. Two games on Saturday, followed by two games on Sunday with all of the losers going home, there is always enough drama to keep the bar hopping. (By that I mean: Thirsty!)

This Saturday starts with an absolute dog of a game at Quest Field, or does it. The Seahawks are the first team in NFL history to reach the postseason with a losing record in a non-strike season. They are also a 10.5 point underdog at home. As much as I want to say they can make a game of it, in this the year of the upset that doesnt make sense, I just cant pull the trigger. The fact that the Saints are down to Mo Morris and an injury-slowed Reggie Bush at running back would scare me against any other playoff team. I think the lack of the running game has helped force Drew Brees into a un-Brees like 22 interceptions. Couple that with the fact that their defense is not the turnover machine it was all of last year and that they will not play a postseason game in the Superdome and I do not think that they are long for this playoff world. But I still like them on the road against a team that gave up 47 touchdowns this year and was outscored during the season by almost 100 points! This matchup reminds me not of an NFL playoff game, but the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The NFL was smart to get it out of the way first so its stench will be gone by the end of the weekend. Im having a problem finding a true meaning of this game besides it being a scrimmage for the defending champs.

Saturday night will be the Bluster Bowl. Well one sided bluster at least. Rex Ryan has not stopped talking since before this season started. And he and the Jets are responsible for two of the most disturbing video images of the year. First there was Antonio Cromarties attempt at reciting his childrens names and ages without stopping to think about it in Hard Knocks and then there were Rexs home movies on YouTube. Yikes! ( Some would say Ryan is the new Rex Gross-man! Wheres my rim-shot?!) Anyway, any great theatre always a good-guy and a bad-guy, Ryan loves to be bad and the NFLs hero, Peyton Manning, will always wear the white hat. As far as the actual on-field match-up goes, neither of these teams really lived up to their pre-season hype.

The Colts due to a slew of injuries and the Jets not being who we thought they were. (LOL) I still dont understand with a team that wants to pound the ball, why they got rid of Thomas Jones. I thought he fit their system perfectly and enabled the Jets to use complimentary backs around him. He and L.T. would have been a scary, albeit elderly, backfield. As it was the Jets, I believe, used Tomlinson too much and it showed during the seasons second half. And was there a bigger disappointment than Shonn Greene this year? And while I think the addition of Santonio Holmes as a wideout can make the Jets attack lethal, the fact that he has Mark Sanchez throwing to him sometimes negates that. I think once Holmes joined the team, they fell in love with the long-ball instead of what they were being given and it lead to inconsistent offensive results. As far as the Colts, it seemed that every guy on the team besides Manning and Reggie Wayne got hurt. Still they are in the playoffs for the 9th straight time and most of that can be attributed to the NFL best pitchman. With everyone going down around him, he still threw for 4700 yards and 33 tuddies and willed his team to ANOTHER division title. And Rex, did you ever notice that when we usually hear Peyton speak, hes getting paid a large sum of cash?! The true meaning of this game is that if you cant walk the walk, you cant talk the talk! I like the Colts.

Sundays early game should treat us to a slugfest. The question is if its going to be a one-sided slugfest. The Ravens are as physical as any team in the NFL and it all starts with Ray Lewis. The Sunday Night Game against the Steelers was brutal. The Ravens ended up losing, but Pittsburgh knew they got away with one as they were leaving town. The Chiefs have two of the most dynamic players in the league in Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe and I was a fan of the steady play of QB Matt Cassel, but as a team as a whole I think that they got to this dance a year early. Being man-handed (Yes, I meant that spelling. Its an homage to one of the funniest Seinfeld show bits ever!) by the Raiders and Chargers during December proved that point. In fact, look at their wins and who have they beaten? Theyre definitely a schedule darling. Well that ends, and rather abruptly, now. The Ravens have balance and play-makers and playoff veterans at every turn. They are a tough, tough team. In fact, I think they have the best shot at beating the team that plays to their north and looms over this weekend and the entire playoffs, but thats another story for another blog. The true meaning of this game is that you shouldnt bring a knife to a gunfight. The Chiefs have been fun to watch this year, but that fun will end when the more proven Harbaughs squad comes to town.

Then in the marquee game of the weekend, the game everyone, including THIS GUY, is waiting for, its the team that will break my heart EVERY TIME, versus the most despised rival of where I live. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! A famous movie quote? Nope. Its the description of the season that Ive had with the football team that has tormented me for my lifetime. After getting spanked by Dallas on consecutive weekends last year to gag a division title and then get booted out of the playoffs to get that over-rated Tony Romo (Honestly?!) his first postseason win, I did not have much expectation for my Eagles in this year 1 A.D. (After Donavan.) A lot of young talent, but to win you need a defense and I didnt see one. So what happened? They gave up 46 touchdowns! That is not a typo. 6-10 then, right? (Or 7-9 and a division title in the NFC West? Boo-Ya!) Well to the surprise of everyone, the offense of Mike Vick, no, not that offense, the Eagles offense of Mike Vick took the NFL by storm, (At least until an aforementioned Tuesday!) and scored an NFC high 49 touchdowns and team record and NFC high 439 points. Eagles game? Take the over! So this high-powered offense will end my suffering right? Not so fast. Wait, it will be fast. The Eagles have the fastest offense Ive ever seen, but in a cruel twist of fate, they are going to play a defense that can play just as fast, especially at linebacker. I think the Packer defense learned enough in his cameo against them, and in the subsequent tape of the Viking and Bears games, to provide that cagy old vet, defensive coordinator Dom Capers, with the formula to defuse the TNT that is the Vick offense. (Eagles offense!) On the other side, even without a run game, Aaron Rogers has lit up the league. Now, he gets to go against a unit that has given up 31 touchdowns and almost 250 yds. a game, through the AIR! I see points, a lot of points, so many in fact that I dont know if Vick can keep up. So the true meaning of this game, for me, AGAIN, is that you cant always get what you want.

So there you have it, I like 3 road teams to win this weekend, and the team that started the year with the most hype, and my AFC preseason Super Bowl nod, to take a seat. In my usual ironic twist, my preseason pick for the NFC side of SB XLV, will knock out the team I root for most. Nice! And remember, these picks are straight up, for as I learned during 2010, the true meaning of insanity, is trying to bet this years games against the spread. MERRY NEW YEAR!

Bears severly outplayed in another home preseason game

Bears severly outplayed in another home preseason game

It's easy to dismiss preseason games, but they can't be ignored when a team is severely outplayed in every sense of the word.

That was the case for the Bears on Saturday afternoon as they were dismantled by the Kansas City Chiefs, 23-7, in front of a crowd of 48, 377 at Soldier Field to remain winless on the preseason.

The Bears starting offense compiled a net of 65 yards as they couldn't find a rhythm against a Chiefs defense playing without Pro Bowlers' Justin Houston, Eric Berry and Tamba Hali.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was able to stay upright for most of the game as the starting offensive line allowed just two sacks, but Cutler was plagued by a few drops from his receivers and was off target for most of the afternoon, finishing 6/15 with 45 yards and a passer rating of 47.9. The Bears starting wide receiving tandem of Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White registered the same amount of drops (three) as they did receptions. The lone highlight from the starting offensive unit came from second-year running Jeremy Langford who twice turned broken plays into positive gains, showing a remarkable improvement in that facet from his rookie season.

[SHOP: Get your Bears gear here]

While the starting offensive unit will draw much-deserved criticism for their performance against the Chiefs, the defense didn't fare that much better.

The starting 11, playing without Pernell McPhee and Kyle Fuller, allowed 239 total yards in the first half. The starting unit also lost their only proven cornerback when eight-year veteran Tracy Porter entered the NFL's concussion protocol after taking a knee to the head by teammate Harold Jones-Quartey in the second quarter. 

Despite Saturday's mediocre play by the defense, there were some positives including the first NFL interception by Bears rookie cornerback Deiondre' Hall who looks to be squarely in the mix for a starting cornerback job with the abundance of injuries at the position. Rookie defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard also continued his strong preseason play with another sack. First-rounder Leonard Floyd suited up but didn't play due to a hamstring injury.

The Bears finally broke a near 55-minute scoring drought when third-string quarterback Connor Shaw connected with wide receiver Cameron Meredith for a 16-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Shaw suffered a left ankle injury on the next series and had to leave on a cart. He finished the game 5/6 for 65 yards and a touchdown, also adding 15 rushing yards on two carries.

In two preseason home games the Bears have been outscored 45-7. They were blanked by the Denver Broncos back in Week 1 on Aug. 15.

The Bears will look to avoid going winless for the first time in franchise history in preseason when they close out their exhibition slate against the Browns in Cleveland next Thursday.

Bears great Jay Hilgenberg to new C Cornelius Edison: “You deserve to be there”

Bears great Jay Hilgenberg to new C Cornelius Edison: “You deserve to be there”

The storyline has already been formed: If the Bears are forced to go with undrafted Cornelius Edison as their center, the 2016 season is lost.

“I mean, how ridiculous to think that an undrafted free agent could be the starting center for the Chicago Bears, and they win,” deadpanned Jay Hilgenberg, making less than no attempt to mask the irony in his voice.

With very good reason.

Because Hilgenberg himself came into the NFL as an afterthought, undrafted out of Iowa in 1981 and then going on to an 11-year career with the Bears, capped by a Super Bowl ring in 1985. Seven Pro Bowls, five All-Pro selections.

Ridiculous.

Edison may come nowhere near the heights reached by Hall of Fame nominee Hilgenberg. Or of Hall of Fame Miami center Jim Langer, also undrafted. But Hilgenberg has a strong bit of advice for Edison, who started Saturday in the Bears preseason game vs. Kansas City and could be their starter on Opening Day, depending on health elsewhere on the interior of the Bears offensive line.

“I would say to him, ‘You’re in an NFL camp because you can play football,’” Hilgenberg told CSNChicago.com. “Don’t let how you entered that camp take anything away from you. You deserve to be there. You just need to prove it a little bit more than the first-rounders.’”

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It may not always be easy, of course.

Hilgenberg, who fought his way onto the final roster in 1981, once famously turned to then-teammate Revie Sorey on the bench during a blowout of the Bears in Hilgenberg’s first season, and said, “Revie, we’re the worst team in the NFL.”

Sorey, never one to duck the truth, nodded.

Hilgenberg added, “And I’m the worst player on this team.”

Again, no disagreement from Sorey.

“So that makes me the worst player in the NFL, doesn’t it?” Hilgenberg concluded.

Silence from Sorey.

Hilgenberg turned out to not be the worst player in the NFL, but not without epic struggles, and he knows what Edison will be going through. And how the young center can make it.

[MORE BEARS: Rookie class making much-needed impact]

“To be honest there is always a little insecurity in you,” Hilgenberg recalled. “I had confidence that I belonged but I had to fight every day. And the truth is, I wanted it more than anything else in the world. I was going to make it.

“I didn’t have Plan B. I didn’t want to go back to Iowa then, so I didn’t have Plan B.

Hilgenberg used teams’ not drafting him as motivation, and Bears teammates recalled him savoring facing supposed elite defensive linemen, No. 1 picks, and handling them. Beyond his attitude, however, was a method.

“I played against a lot of big, strong guys in the NFL, and I wasn’t going to back down from anybody,” Hilgenberg said. “As soon as you learn how to play with the right fundamentals, you learn that there’s no Supermen out there. If you can play fundamentally and with good technique, you can block anybody… .

“Offensive line play is honestly all about how bad you want it. How much are you willing to do? How important is it to you? What does it mean to you?”

Edison is in the process of answering those exact questions.

Dwyane Wade's cousin shot and killed in Chicago

Dwyane Wade's cousin shot and killed in Chicago

On Thursday, Dwyane Wade appeared on an ESPN special for The Undefeated to talk about gun violence. The next day, Wade's cousin was shot and killed in Chicago.

Nykea Aldridge was pushing a baby stroller in the Chicago neighborhood of Parkway Gardens when she was shot and killed. Aldridge was 32 and a mother of four.

Police said she was not the intended target and one person was taken into custody as a result of the incident.

Wade's words during his appearance on the ESPN panel took on extra meaning after Friday's shooting.

"It's important for all of us to help each other, to go back and say 'You know what, where did this start, how did this start? Let's see how we can change there,'" Wade said on ESPN. "It's deep-rooted and this is something that didn't start today. This is something that's not going to end tomorrow. But this is something that we can start a conversation, we can start the work today and hopefully eventually we can stop it."

Wade tweeted after the shooting.