Keeping (the) Score: QBs and changes to the game of football

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Keeping (the) Score: QBs and changes to the game of football

Thursdays regular 10 a.m. visit with Danny and Spiegs on WSCR 670 AMs The McNeil & Spiegel Show started to look a little past all of the concussion maelstrom and at the San Francisco 49ers game looming next Monday.

Looming is probably a good word for it.

49ers quarterback Alex Smith is looking to be a probable for the game, having been cleared for non-contact work following his concussion last weekend against the St. Louis Rams.

Jay Cutler has not been and the surprise will be if he is not declared out as early as Thursday both for his protection and for the Bears to make a statement that they arent going to risk a second concussion eight days after the first.

That means Jason Campbell as the Bears starting quarterback, with Josh McCown as his reserve. Mac was a little surprised at the lack of expressed concern over Campbell in place of a starting quarterback for the Bears, but my sense is that Campbell is not just any backup.

We talked a little about players reactions on the differences in delivery between Campbell (timing-oriented) and Cutler (when I see you getting open, here it comes in a hurry!). I also mentioned that I have never seen a chemistry among quarterbacks like the one Cutler, Campbell and McCown, where the whole is clearly better than the sum of the parts because of the support mindset in the quarterbacks room. McCown makes Campbell better.

The guys mentioned Mully and Hanley Show host Mike Mulligan talking earlier about changes coming in the game because of injuries like the ones to the three quarterbacks last weekend (Cutler, Smith, Michael Vick). I agree that there will be changes but I do think this will take at least a generation to change.

In football a generation means maybe 10 NFL years with accompanying changes in the feeder system of college. The awareness is growing among players but too many of them still regard hits to the knee more egregious than ones to the head.

I mentioned Brian Urlachers comments that for some reason the NFL thinks its OK to cut the knees, which can end a career, but not OK to hit the head, which maybe costs a player a week or two.

The knee worry is understood. But a blown ACL, for example, does not end a career. Just ask Adrian Peterson up in Minnesota, who had a monster knee injury last December. Or ask Corey Wootton, whose knee injuries started at Northwestern, held him back, but he now is a very, very productive impact player. So that thinking needs to adjust.

The change will be when players realize that concussions cost a lot, lot more.

We touched on the blow delivered to Cutler by Houston linebacker Tim Dobbins, who the guys mentioned as being proud of his knockout blows. Dobbins got a 30,000 fine; I thought he should have been suspended for a clearly premeditated, avoidable blow to mans head.

Watching the hit, all I could think of was Jack Tatums premeditated, avoidable blow to Darryl Stingley. What do you think the late Chicagoan and New England receiver would tell Urlacher and current players about whether blows to the head or knee are more devastating?

Horace Grant on current state of Bulls: 'No need to panic'

Horace Grant on current state of Bulls: 'No need to panic'

After the Bulls got off to a 3-0 start, it looked like this would be a team that might be able to give LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers a run for their money in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls proceeded to lose their next three, tempering those optimistic expectations. What those first six games proved is that they're an inconsistent bunch, and it's been a microcosm of their season past the halfway mark.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Entering Thursday, the Bulls were slotted in as the No. 8 seed in the East with a 21-22 record through 43 games.

Former Bulls forward/center Horace Grant, who was named a special advisor to president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf last year, joined SportsTalk Live on Thursday to talk about the team's current state, and why Bulls fans shouldn't panic just yet.

Check out his comments in the video above.

See what else he had to say during his SportsTalk Live appearance and on In The Loop below:

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

ATLANTA — Jimmy Butler insisted being a starter in the All-Star Game means next to nothing, but it seems to go against his never-ending battle for credibility and validation as a legit superstar.

Moments after it was revealed he would be an All-Star starter for the first time and make his third overall trip to All-Star weekend, he sang the same nonchalant tune.

"It hasn't changed at all," Butler said on a conference call Thursday evening. "Obviously, it's a huge accomplishment and honor to be named a starter. But it's All-Star weekend. There are going to be a lot of good players there. I guess it's just another name thrown in with some decent players."

The NBA's format for selecting the All-Star starters changed this season, with fans no longer being the sole group that gets to vote for starters. If it was still a fans-only vote, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid would've started in Butler's place.

But with the new formula that allows the media and the players to take part in the vote, the fan vote accounts for just 50 percent of the formula. So Butler joined Cleveland's LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee's Giannis Antekounmpo and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in the starting five for the Eastern Conference.

Butler's is averaging 24.8 points with 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, career-highs across the board, and had he not been selected as a starter, the Bulls' 20-21 record would not have prevented coaches from selecting him as a reserve as they had the last two seasons.

[SHOP BULLS: Get a Jimmy Butler jersey right here]

He won't be joined in the starting lineup by Dwyane Wade, who finished second in backcourt voting behind Irving, but cast his vote for his teammate anyway and hopes Wade will be selected as a reserve.

"Of course. He's been a huge part of what we're doing here, and I think he has played extremely well the first part of the season," Butler said. "He got my vote. I will tell you that."

Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will start for the West, along with Houston's James Harden, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans' Anthony Davis, a Chicago native.

The fun-filled and busy weekend in New Orleans begins Feb. 17, from the league events to the parties to the festivities and then finally the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

Butler likely views it as more of an accomplishment for his team of trainers and confidants then himself.

"It's fun, man. You get to know the other really good players in the league, and you get to know a little bit about them," Butler said. "And the experience that you get to be a part of, whether it be the Jordan party or taking your guys with you everywhere. That's the most fun part for me, my trainers, my brothers, everybody that's behind the scenes helping me gets to experience it too."