Bears strongly backing concussion legislation


Bears strongly backing concussion legislation

Friday, March 11, 2011Posted: 2:20 PM

By John Mullin

On the matter of lasting effects from concussions, Bears greats Richard Dent and Otis Wilson had a slight difference of opinion.

I never had a concussion, Wilson insisted, walking away with a laugh. I gave concussions.

His Hall of Fame teammate demurred.

He doesnt remember, Dent said, shaking his head. He had some, Im pretty sure he had some blank-out moments. But hes 55 now so he doesnt recall.

Wilsons number was 55; his age is 53. And somehow you know The Colonel knew that.

The two Super Bowl XX greats were on hand Friday at Soldier Field to add their support to that of the Bears organization, in the persons of Vice Chairman George McCaskey, President Ted Phillips and head athletic trainer Tim Bream, in support of legislation in the state Senate to take on the challenge of concussion legislation.

Im also the father of three sons whove grown up in athletics, Phillips said. So I know that injuries will always occur in high school sports and youth sports. This legislation is not a cure-all but I think it will go a long way to prevent needless head injuries and might even save lives among the young kids, boys and girls, in this state who are athletes.

We at the Bears are pledged to do whatever we can to help see that this legislation becomes law as quickly as possible.

The legislation, with the backing of House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), would require all school boards to adopt a multi-level policy regarding student-athlete concussions and head injuries.

This is a great thing for high school sports in Illinois because it creates a solid platform on concussions that we can all build upon, said 1980s Bears guard Kurt Becker, assistant head football coach at Marmion Academy in Aurora. Its putting the puzzle together. If the puzzle comes together with concussions and the inherent risks that follow concussions, its a scary situation.

The timing on this is tremendous. And the nice thing is that coaches arent involved in the decision. The student-athlete goes into the hands of the first responder, which is the trainer.

It wasnt always that way, as too many athletes know.

It used to be, Get up and try it again, son, Dent said, adding that the solution also will involve other on-field adjustments.

Kids are more aware now. You can wrestle and get a concussion. This is a collision sport. Youre putting a defensive player in jeopardy when you tell him how he can come in, yet the running back can still drop his head and run over you. Sooner or later youre going to get more shoulder, more neck problems.

Youve got to support the spine and support the shoulders.

Wilson stressed the inherent risks that come with a collision sport but I think is a good thing theyre trying to do stop concussion problems at an early age.

John "Moon" Mullin is's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Call it variations on a theme. The Bears on Monday night will face not only the Minnesota Vikings, but also Sam Bradford, the latest quarterback opponent that hints at possibilities in the Bears’ own future far beyond what was once the norm.

That norm is what can reasonably be expected from a new quarterback, one coming into a new system, new environment, even a new league, and having near-immediate success. Quarterback changes can involve upheaval of staff, personnel and even franchise identity, as the Bears can confirm based on their last eight years with Jay Cutler.

The experiences in Dallas, Minnesota and Philadelphia point to the kinds of quarterback transitions the Bears may be in search of after the 2016 season.

Bradford arrived in Minnesota via trade just eight days before the season opener, yet has proceeded to post the best results of his career: for completion percentage (67.5), interception percentage (0.6 percent; 7 TD’s vs. 1 INT), yards per attempt (7.4) and rating (100.3, vs. a previous best of 90.9).

More important, without the Vikings’ starting left tackle (Matt Kalil) and running back (Adrian Peterson), Bradford has the Vikings leading the NFC North and tied for the NFC lead at 5-1.

“[The Vikings] had the misfortune of losing their quarterback, they go out and make a bold move to get him and they haven’t missed a beat offensively,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “He’s been getting better and better.”

This all holds particular relevance for the Bears, who saw Brian Hoyer step in and deliver four straight 300-yard passing games, something he’d never done in his career and no quarterback in Bears franchise history had done. Cutler’s personal best was two straight, for purposes of comparison.

The Bears are expected to have a new quarterback in some form or other next year. In the meantime they have been victimized by two rookie quarterbacks already this season (Carson Wentz, Philadelphia, and Dak Prescott, Dallas). The experience of Bradford, Prescott and Wentz, all new in 2017 to their situations, suggests chances of dramatic improvement over the Bears’ recent history with Cutler, for example.

“A good quarterback can influence the guys and make guys around him better,” Wentz said. “So it’s one of those things where the quarterback usually gets too much credit and too much of the blame as well. It’s just kind of the nature of the position.”

Prescott and Wentz were 2016 draft choices and had offseasons and training camps with their respective teams. Bradford had none of that, yet began his year throwing 130 passes without an interception.

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How that happens may be illustrative for the 2017 Bears. The Vikings traded for Bradford, a one-time starter for the Rams and Eagles. But because of the late-offseason timing of the deal, necessitated by the season-ending leg injury for Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford had to be eased into the new offense.

“I think that’s honestly one of the bonuses of coming during the regular season,” Bradford said on Thursday. “Obviously it would’ve been nice to have some practices in training camp. But once you get into the regular season, it’s not like you have the whole playbook in each game plan. Each game plan is very specific for that week’s opponent, so it’s considerably less than would be in your training-camp installs.

“So I think that helped a little bit. But as far as it being cut down, the volume wasn’t so much cut down as how the plays were called, naming some concepts with some things I was familiar with. That really helped me.”

Bears Talk Podcast: Jay Cutler returns against one of NFL's best defenses


Bears Talk Podcast: Jay Cutler returns against one of NFL's best defenses

Jim Miller joins Pat Boyle as they discuss the return of Jay Cutler as he gets ready to face one of the toughest defense’s in football. Plus, the key to a Bears win on Halloween night.

Listen to the latest Bears Talk Podcast here: