Getting back: Super Bowl loss is Bears' motivation

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Getting back: Super Bowl loss is Bears' motivation

Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011
Posted 9:53 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

He was one of the pivotal figures in football history, winning arguably the most memorable Super Bowl of all time. Yet Joe Namath never made it to another Super Bowl, his New York Jets lost in the divisional round the following year, and New York did not have a winning season for another 12 years.

Dan Marino reached a Super Bowl in his second season, became one of the many San Francisco 49ers victims in that game, and never reached another Super Bowl in a Hall of Fame career.

As teammates quarreled over the free Super Bowl Champions hats in the locker room after Super Bowl XX, center Jay Hilgenberg and others felt the first pangs of fear that in spite of having one of the greatest teams of its era, they would never be back.

They never were.

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For more than a few current Bears, the Green Bay Packers are more than simply the quintessential rival. The Packers are what stand between them and returning to a Super Bowl, something many of the greats of the game have never accomplished.

Veterans of the 2006 team suffered the sting of losing a Super Bowl.

Nothing will ever erase that, said defensive tackle Tommie Harris. But what we have now is an opportunity to go there again and thats something that you want more than anything because you know what it means.

The Bears are not looking past the Packers. Far from it. What Green Bay did to the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and the Bears themselves, all Packers wins, is grounding.
Lessons of history

But while many modern athletes have little sense of the history of their sport, Bears veterans do.

I think one of the misconceptions is that most players who make it to the Super Bowl, they think that they can make it back next year, said cornerback Charles Tillman. I was one of those guys. After we lost to Indianapolis a couple of years ago, I was one of the guys who said, You know what, we'll be back next year. And it just doesn't happen like that.

"I saw Dan Marino said that when he made it to the Super Bowl. He said, I"ll be back again, and he never made it in his whole career. So it's definitely you've got to make the best of it when you're there.

Harris, Tillman, Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, Chris Harris, Israel Idonije, Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza, Desmond Clark, Rashied Davis, Robbie Gould, Patrick Mannelly, Danieal Manning and Devin Hester. Brad Maynard twice.

All have been in this exact position, going into an NFC Championship game, which they won, and then lost the Super Bowl after it.

And they know how rare the moment is before them.

I definitely want to seize the moment, Tillman said. I would say then I was ready to go to a Super Bowl and now Im looking at it a second time around and I dont want to just go to one; I want to win one. I think the attitude around here has changed from that standpoint.

READ: Lovie Smith's game plan against the Green Bay Packers

The endor the beginning?

Because so many of the Bears top players (Briggs, Kreutz, Peppers, Urlacher, Garza, Idonije) are 30 or older, the obvious question is whether or not the Super Bowl window is closing on them.

General Manager Jerry Angelo has said that the window for a team is 2-4 years, and the Bears are four years after their previous Super Bowl appearance. The reality is that a tumble is possible, as Brett Favre found out suddenly and catastrophically in Minnesota.

No. I dont see us getting any worse next year, Urlacher said. I think we should get better. You dont want to say this is your last shot and Im not saying that if we should lose. We want to win this game, but I am not in any way thinking this is our last shot. I think were a talented football team. Well just get better every year.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com'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.

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

PHOENIX — When the 2014 season concluded, with all its drama, poor play and internal dysfunction, Bears Chairman George McCaskey passed along the unvarnished mood of Bears matriarch and owner Virginia McCaskey:
 
"She's pissed off," George McCaskey declared.
 
The 2016 season ended worse record-wise (3-13) than 2014 (5-11) but Bears ownership sees arrows pointing up, not down as they appeared after 2014, occasioning the jettisoning of the general manager and coaching staff.
 
"[Virginia] sees the progress, but like any Bears fan, she wants results," George McCaskey said, chuckling at the recollection of relaying his mother's mood. "That's the quote that won't go away."
 
"Progress" and "results" are vague terms, and sometimes relative. But Bears ownership is not setting a public fail-safe point for either general manager Ryan Pace or head coach John Fox to remain in place, although no scenario could presumably consider four wins actual "progress" from three.
 
"We want to continue to see progress, see the building blocks but there isn't any sort of particular threshold," McCaskey confirmed. "We're not on any particular timetable that somebody else is wanting to set for us. We're wanting to see continued progress toward our goal of sustained success."
 
"Sustained success" is not beyond the scope of possibility, assuming that a talent core can be established and includes a quarterback, which the personnel department under Pace believe it is on the brink of putting in place, whether around Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez or a player to be drafted or traded for later.

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]
 
GM Phil Emery adopted the buzz phrase of "multiple championships," but current leadership does sound less grandiose and more grounded. And where Emery drafts proved disastrous, the Pace administration has had clear hits, injuries notwithstanding, as recently as the 2016 class, which McCaskey mentioned in the context of Pace building the roster exactly the way ownership prefers.
 
"We have confidence in Ryan and John," McCaskey said. "We want to build through the draft. Ryan said that in his interview when he said he was interested in coming to the Bears and we like how he's stuck to that plan. We saw it last year when we had three rookies on the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team; Cody Whitehair, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Howard.
 
"And that's what we need to keep doing; keep building through the draft. I told Ryan he should get ripped this time of year every year for not being more active in free agency and that's because we're developing our own guys and rewarding our own guys."
 
McCaskey supported the actions, or lack of same, by Pace in the pursuit of max-dollar free agents this offseason. The Bears dropped out of sweepstakes for cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Tony Jefferson, among others, when prices spiked far beyond the parameters set by the Pace staff.
 
"I've been very impressed with [Pace] as a leader, as an evaluator of talent," McCaskey said. "And one of the things I've been most impressed by with him is the discipline he's shown just as recently as this free agency period. He didn't want to overpay guys. Too often, I think, you overpay guys who don't come through for you and then you have a big hole in your salary cap and you're behind the 8-ball. So I like the discipline he has shown, the restraint he has shown in free agency."

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Utah OT Garett Bolles

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Utah OT Garett Bolles

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

6'5" | 297 lbs.

Projection:

First-to-second round

Scouting Report:

"Because he's only played one year of FBS football and hasn't been able to fully fill out his frame over the last five years, Bolles will require a projection and conjecture than most of the tackles in this year's draft. He clearly has elite athletic ability and foot quickness, but his lack of core strength and ability to sustain blocks against power across from him is a concern at this time. While he has Pro Bowl potential for a zone-scheme team, his floor will be a little lower than you might like in an early round pick." - Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles