The Gift That Keeps on Giving

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Wednesday, December 23rd

As a bartender, its in my job description to help out when needed. Whether thats to listen, take and process your order or offer advice, thats what I do, its a full service bar!

Well at this time Id like to offer some advice to some of those last minute shoppers out there. I know that it can get confusing and stressful shopping at this time of year, but I have an easy solution. TICKETS! How easy is that? You can get them online, pick the date and the sport.

One thing that I hope everyone realizes during the holidays is that, sometimes its fun to hang with the family. In fact, some would say these are the memories that last a lifetime. I couldnt agree more. As Im raising my own family, I cant help but think back on the times I enjoyed during holidays past. But there is another set of memories that are always with me, and make me smile to this day. Going to professional sporting events as a kid made me the sports geek that I am today. (Of course, Im viewing that as a positive, others might have a different opinion!)

As a kid going to games, I got to see up-close (sometimes) my sports heroes. It was magical. I was especially enamored of going to Philadelphia Flyers games in the early seventies. They were very good and the fan base bordered on rabid. This was very intense for an impressionable young mind and, very addicting. The names and numbers of every player from the 2 Cup years are seared in my brain and I dont mind repeating them when prompted, and sometimes when not prompted, like when Im dealing with a couple of hockey-know-it-alls from Toronto. Gets them every time!

But what really brought it home for me were the times I enjoyed with my parents, sisters, aunts and uncles at the games. They are a bond for us that exist to this day. Funny, since most of the other games and teams we followed had an amazing propensity for losing, A LOT! None the less, in my family, there are years of happy memories going to sporting events.

So thats why I say dont fret that youve let your shopping go down to the wire, again. Get on that computer and buy some Hawks tickets. Now, before they are gone. This team is going to be remembered for a long time. Isnt it cool when they bring out Bobby Hull or Stan Mikita? Well, trust me, its not going to be long before those names change to Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews. Dont you want your kid to tell their kids all about them?

Or how about being able to share the blossoming of Derrick Rose with another hoops junkie in the family? I would hope I wouldnt have to mention either baseball team, since just being able to get outside during the summer in Chicago is fun in itself. But how fun is it to chant: Paulie! Paulie! Or to boo Milton Bradley? (Sorry couldnt help myself, besides: Too late!) And I hear through the grapevine the 2011 Bears are going to be awesome! (Never too early!)

By giving the gift of tickets, youll not only be able to share in some great memories of teams that will live in Chicago sports history, but create some memories that will live on in your families history. It seems to me that tickets are truly a gift in the spirit of the holidays. So dont worry that your shopping time is almost gone, a timeless gift is only a click away. Oh, and if you happen to stop at 33 W. Kinzie St. before or after the game, well, that will just add to it, Im sure.

John Fox, Bears coaches balancing workload with injury risk as training camp convenes

John Fox, Bears coaches balancing workload with injury risk as training camp convenes

Bears players and coaches have been preparing for 2016 intermittently for the past several months. That said, the 2016 “season” effectively begins on Thursday with the Bears holding their first practice of training camp, one that will be open to the public even though players will work the first two days without pads.

From now until early next year, the Bears will have no more than one day off at a time, save the off-week leading up to no game on Nov. 6, and other than perhaps a bonus day off here and there, such as after the Thursday, Oct. 20 night game at Green Bay, after which coach John Fox may grant his team a couple added days off, depending on the performance in Green Bay.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Pads come on for the first time since last Jan. 3 against the Detroit Lions as of Saturday’s practice. Thus begins the ongoing balancing act for coaches to maximize the amount of productive time within the parameters allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, all in the context of heat and conditions of contact.

“You’ve got to get your team ready for battle and you’ve got to make sure you’ve got guys ready to go to battle with,” Fox said. “So it’s a fine line, getting ready for football.”

The Bears already have had offseason injuries to guard Ted Larsen and wide receiver Marquess Wilson, in addition to a strained hamstring for rookie running back Jordan Howard and veterans like Pernell McPhee (knee) coming off surgery.

“It’s a combative game and injuries are part of it,” Fox said. “You’ve got to have some good fortune, and some good practice habits. That way you’re getting better and more physical, yet not to the point where you’re losing guys. Obviously with the reduction of our offseason and the things we used to do as coaches, I don’t think doing less of that is the right idea.”

[RELATED: Going to Bears Training Camp ’16 in Bourbonnais? Remember these four tips]

Training camp this year includes one of the shortest off-site stretches ever, with 10 sessions at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais and one at Soldier Field on Sat. Aug. 6.

Day, Date, Practice Time (CT)

Wednesday, July 27: Report day

Thursday, July 28: 9:35 a.m. practice (no pads)

Friday, July 29: 11:15 a.m. practice (no pads)

Saturday, July 30: 9:35 a.m. practice

Sunday, July 31: 11:15 a.m. practice

AUGUST

Day, Date, Practice Time (CT)

Monday, Aug. 1: 9:35 a.m. practice

Tuesday, Aug. 2: Off day

Wednesday, Aug. 3: 11:15 a.m. practice

Thursday, Aug. 4: 9:35 a.m. practice

Friday, Aug. 5: 11:15 a.m. practice

Saturday, Aug. 6: 12:30 p.m. Meijer Chicago Bears Family Fest (Soldier Field)

Sunday, Aug.7: Off day

Monday, Aug. 8: 11:15 a.m. practice

Tuesday, Aug. 9: 9:35 a.m. practice/final open practice

Wednesday, Aug. 10: Off day

Preseason Schedule:

Thursday, Aug. 11: Bears vs. Denver Broncos, 7 p.m.

Thursday,  Aug. 18: Bears at New England Patriots, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Bears vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 12 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 1: Bears at Cleveland Browns, 7 p.m.

Going to Bears Training Camp ’16 in Bourbonnais? Remember these four tips

Going to Bears Training Camp ’16 in Bourbonnais? Remember these four tips

After covering some 25 Bears training camps spanning both Bourbonnais and Platteville, this CSNChicago.com reporter has gleaned some tips for getting the most out of the fan experience:

Appreciate the effort:

A lot of the young men you’ll be watching are living playing to realize a dream they’ve had since they were as young as some of the youngest fans. They are competing for jobs every day, every snap, and even going against teammates, the effort expended is worthy of the utmost respect. A guarantee: You WILL see something spectacular, whether from a star or some young hopeful who will leave it all and then some on that practice field. Enjoy the moment.

Be polite:

If you want autographs from players, your chances improve with a little courtesy. “Hey, Cutler…” and waving a pen and program at the Bears quarterback does not play nearly as well as “Jay, Jay…” or, if you’re a young fan and really want to stand out, “Mr. Cutler, Mr. Cutler…” Players don’t always get to hear a lot of “polite.” It doesn’t guarantee a signing, but understand that there’s no way players can sign every request and still have fully functioning limbs. And if a player doesn’t stop to sign, it’s not a snub. Most players sign every other day, so this just might be their off day for signing.

Plus, if it’s post-practice, remember that these players have just gone through at least two hours of beyond-max-effort work, wearing equipment that is anything but air-conditioned and weighs as much as a small child, and getting off their feet is a necessary survival skill.

[SHOP: Buy a Jay Cutler jersey here]

Go early:

The folks at Olivet Nazarene University do a truly amazing job of crowd and traffic control, but depending on the size of the crush, particularly on peak days, you may miss some field time getting into the parking lots if you’re getting there close to the start of practice. For another thing, players are typically on the field well ahead of the scheduled start times for practice, so you’ll be seeing players working and getting loosened up if you’re there early.

Understand the cadence and order:

Practices are not continuous scrimmaging and hitting. For one thing, that’s physically not possible, or smart. The Bears have individual sessions, then depending on the day, may come together for a “live” run scrimmage without receivers, followed by a less intense session, maybe some special teams, before or after very live pass-protection and receiver-DB head-to-heads, a break, then finishing with 11-on-11 “team” sessions.

Should the Bears bring Devin Hester back to Chicago?

Should the Bears bring Devin Hester back to Chicago?

The Atlanta Falcons released kick return specialist Devin Hester on Tuesday after just two seasons with the team. 

The former Bear and four-time Pro Bowl selection, who's best known for being one of the NFL's most dangerous return men, is now in the market for a new NFL job. 

So that begs the question, should the Bears entertain the idea of bringing Hester back to Chicago in 2016?

Hester, 33, has an NFL-record 20 touchdown returns over his 10 year career. However, he only had one return touchdown during his two years in Atlanta, and collected just two receiving touchdowns and one rushing score. 

It's safe to say the Bears aren't interested in Hester as a receiver, and who knows how much gas he has left in the tank, but he has certainly made an impact during his time in the Windy City.