Chicago Bears

Random News of the Day: Living in a Fantasy Land

Random News of the Day: Living in a Fantasy Land

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010
12:11 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

"Life is just a fantasy. Can you live this fantasy life?" Aldo Nova, "Fantasy"

There is no better way to start a fantasy football column than with a song lyric from a cheesy 80s rock song. Really, there isn't. Well hey, it was that, or I could have pulled a lyric from "What's Your Fantasy" by Ludacris. And even though the Ludacris song does mention the Georgia Dome and the 50-yard line, I doubt I'd be able to print anything else associated with that song without a pink slip lurking.

Can you live the fantasy football life? Millions across America seem to be able to do it just fine. In fact, if you're one of the many fantasy football fun junkies, the last few weeks in August are ones that are meticulously spent going over statistics, projections and predictions from blowhard analysts.

A fantasy football league has its own share of comedic relief. There are many, many personalities you will encounter from draft day to your league's championship game. Usually, a fantasy 'baller will fall into one of the following personality types:

Mr. Condescending: Show me a fantasy football player with a more irritating personality. I dare you. Every draft pick you make gets criticized. Your team name isn't good enough. You haven't been in the league long enough. You haven't won enough money. You always, apparently, "steal" his guy off the waiver wire or the draft board. He's the schmuck that TYPES IN ALL-CAPS and hits "reply all" on every fantasy football vote. A complete tool. It's not all doom and gloom, though. Because you know it's just a matter of time before Mr. Condescending smashes his TV screen on a last-second FG and has to walk around in a cast for the next 6-8 weeks.

The Mail-It-Inner: Sometimes you will hear the term "mailing it in" in conjunction with everyday life (jobs, politics...etc). I define it as "doing the least amount of work possible to get the job done, regardless of the ensuing public outcry and negative perception; the epitome of laziness." On draft day, the mail-it-inner sleeps through draft day and ends up with a team anchored by Alex Smith, Beanie Wells and Nate Burleson. The team name usually sounds like something out of a Gilmore Girls episode. The final record is around 2-12. The mail-it-inner is never heard from again.

Mr. Reactionary (AKA, Johnny Waiver Wire): Let's say that superstar running back "A" goes down with a leg injury. Before this poor guy's femur is picked up off the field by the trainer, Mr. Reactionary has already scooped up the backup RB on that team. Johnny Waiver Wire strikes again! A third nickname can also be given to this person: "Mr. Flash In The Pan". You know-- the type that notices some random tight end catch a few one-yard TDs one week. By the next week he's starting on Mr. Reactionary's roster. Of course, everyone but Mr. Reactionary knows that the flash in the pan will never see the end zone again.

The Three-Ring Binder: I'm actually friends with the original "Three-Ring Binder" guy. I used to work with him at another station in town. He now works as a sports producer in another midwestern city. At one of our live drafts, he came to the meeting with (you guessed it) a three-ring binder full of statistics and notes. We all laughed of course, but there's one thing you have to respect about the Three-Ring-Binder guy: attention to detail You'd be hard-pressed to find somebody of this nature finishing in the bottom half of your league. Note: the Three-Ring-Binder guy is not related to Mr. Reactionary because of the homework done by "TRB" on draft day.

The Girl: I shouldn't rip "The Girl" because, more often than not, she absolutely torments the league she's in. If her favorite color is red, she picks every Arizona Cardinals player on the board. After she gets laughed off the planet during draft day, you notice that by week five she's in first place...thanks to Larry Fitzgerald and company. She runs off with your money and makes you look like a fool in the process.

The 55-League Guy: This czar of Internet football pays very little attention to the league you're in because, apparently, he is just "flat-out bringing it" in one of the other leagues he is in. "Oh I'm not upset that I lost 135-27 last week in your league because the 200-three-keeper-AFC-four-wide-receiver-head-to-head-16-team-assists-on-tackles-get-two-points league I'm in is a gold mine!" The 55-league guy is the same dork that goes out to the bars, buys one light beer and toggles every one of his starting lineups on his phone for the next three hours. Even on a Tuesday night.

Fantasy Football Hero, 2003 (AKA, The Al Bundy Of Fantasy Football): This is the guy that everybody laughs at --not with-- on draft day. You can almost find out the exact point when this guy got engagedmarriedhad a kid based on his wildly inept draft selections. For instance, let's say the guy got married in 2003. His 2010 fantasy football team would look like one from 2003 because he spent the last seven years trapped within the walls of Linens 'n Things or stuck watching Grey's Anatomy with his significant other. His roster includes a starting nucleus of Jake Delhomme, Clinton Portis and Martin Gramatica. He also keeps asking, "Priest Holmest didn't get picked yet...did he?"

Also, let's not forget some honorable mentions: Mr. Outrageous Trade Offer Guy, Team Collusion (two players in the same league in cahoots with one another-- shady transactions...etc), Johnny Message Board Dominator, Mr. "We-Need-A-Rule-Change" Guy and The Player Who Forgets To Set His Lineup And Then Blames The Computer.

If you end up losing a game --or worse, a championship-- by a few points to either one of these guys, you're likely to give them what Nicky Santoro got at the end of "Casino". Of course if you win, all of these people don't matter, you host the year-end pizza party with a big smile on your face and you have some extra cash for the 4am bars. Such is life.

And such is fantasy football.

Or something like that.

Mark Sanchez on fast food runs, shutting up and policing a QB controversy

Mark Sanchez on fast food runs, shutting up and policing a QB controversy

When the Bears signed Mark Sanchez March 24, some fans panicked that it meant Ryan Pace would avoid selecting a quarterback for a third straight draft. And when Pace boldly (or, stupidly, to some) traded up a spot to second overall to secure Mitch Trubisky for the future, those critics emerged, too. 

Sanchez signed as Mike Glennon's backup, and according to Pace Wednesday, that's still what he is. For the former fifth overall pick of the Jets, starting would be great. But he's only done that ten times over the past four years after starting all but two games in his first four seasons under the media microscope in New York.

"I thought this team was on an upper trend and it'd be great to help somebody like Mike," Sanchez said Thursday in his first interview with Chicago reporters. "I know they went through a serious injury bug last year and a lot of guys would be getting healthy."

The man is only 30, and things were never better professionally than in his fresh-faced, first two NFL seasons, helping the Jets win two playoff road games in both 2009 and 2010 (including one at New England) before getting knocked out in AFC Championship games on the road. Now, he's not considered a starter, unless it's an emergency.

"It has been a different role, and adjusting your perspective is not always easy, but that's the mental side of this game and that's why I love playing it, no matter what," Sanchez said. "I wanna be competing my butt off in practice, and then pushing the starter as much as I can."

With Tony Romo hurt yet again in Dallas last year, Sanchez was picked up as insurance by the Cowboys after the Broncos decided to go with two other young quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, following Peyton Manning's retirement. But fourth-round rookie Dak Prescott's performance kept him on the field and Sanchez in a mentor role. Just as he will be with Glennon and Trubisky.

"Whatever it takes to win," Sanchez said. "And if that means getting him ready to play, and if that's what the role is, which is what it looks like here, then I'll push Mike, get ready to play myself and make sure he's ready to go in. It's been exciting working with him, because he can really play. I think he's a special player. He's decisive, he's got great feet for a big guy, and he can make all the throws so I'm excited to see how well he does."

Sanchez was Prescott in 2009, being chosen as a rookie over veteran options on a contending team.

"I had Kellen Clemens, Kevin O'Connell and Mark Brunell," Sanchez said of his NFL baptism under fire. "And all three of them, my first couple years, were amazing guys. Whether it was body language, footwork, where to live, where to eat, anything, you name it. We got so close. That kind of stuff transcends football when you get close off the field like we did those first couple of years, things take off. That kind of stuff I learned right away. We're still building that here."

There's no telling the degree of influence Sanchez may have had on Prescott's success. He arrived in Dallas late (after opening last preseason with a long touchdown pass to Demaryious Thomas at Soldier Field), too. But he hopes the NFL life lessons he'd been through, from winning, to butt-fumbling, to being cut, will help Glennon and Trubisky as he hope it did with Dak.

"That was a heckuva run," he said. "When you look at these teams, especially heading into year nine, you know from the first practice what you have, what you're searching for, what guys lead, what guys follow. You can feel it right away.

"It's a young team, but the emphasis is for the veterans to help push guys. Speaking from a number two role, I have to push Mike with everything I see. I had the conversation with Dak last year, 'Hey, I'll tell you everything I know, I'll push you as hard as a I can. But if at any point, you need me to turn it off, I'll do that. I'll shut up and won't say a word.' That's the same relationship I have with Mike and I'm pushing him hard, helping him compete, and I think he's gonna do really well.

"The best compliment you can give a rookie is not have to tell him to shut up," the USC product said of the seniority pecking order. "Just keep your head down and work, and that's really been his mentality. That's huge. And that's not easy, especially coming from where (Trubisky's) come from. The status you build as a college player... then a team trades up to get you, all those things, you start to believe all that.

"I remember getting ready to fly to divisional games, championship games, and two hours before the plane takes off I'm going to like, three different places. Popeyes Chicken, Quiznos, and I'm thinking, 'Geez, this is crazy.' But there's Brunell and Kellen Clemens saying, 'Just keep your mouth shut.  Do it or it'll be worse.' But (Trubisky's) done a great job. He's worked hard, doesn't say much and doesn't need to. Just keep working, keep learning, playing hard."

And despite his own desire to play, he won't fan the flames for change when Glennon has a bad practice, series or game. All four quarterbacks (including Connor Shaw) are ready to accept and follow the gameplan that's in place for the most scrutinized position in sports.

"There's no chance that happens here," Sanchez said of a divided room. "It's been defined clearly, and that's what you need. It's already been addressed by Ryan Pace, by Coach (John Fox), and you can't say it enough. You guys (the media) have a job to do, and I totally understand how papers sell, and some don't. Certain quotes, certain headlines, I've been around a bit, so I know. But we're not gonna have that issue because Mike's gonna play his butt off. If anything happens, I'll be ready. Mitch is gonna be ready. We have a great room so, I like where we're at and I like where we're headed."

Kevin White is starting small to answer the big question: Can he break out in 2017?

7-27kevinwhite.jpg
USA TODAY

Kevin White is starting small to answer the big question: Can he break out in 2017?

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Kevin White isn’t taking his ability to play football for granted anymore, not after missing 28 of the Bears’ 32 games since he was drafted seventh overall in 2015. This is supposed to be fun, White said, even though these last two years couldn’t have been much fun for him.  

So with training camp underway at Olivet Nazarene University, White isn’t putting any added pressure on himself in a year that could determine whether or not he gets labeled a bust. 

“I don’t look at this as a job,” White said. “I think it takes the fun away from it. So I would just look at it as it’s a game. I love to play it, just getting paid to do it. But it was fun to be back out there with the guys and rallying together and going out there to compete.”

White looked solid in the Bears’ first training camp practice of 2017, which was a promising start for the 6-foot-3, 216 pound West Virginia product. But that’s a small step that won’t hold much significance unless White can string a few good practices together, and then eventually turn those practices into productive games. 

The good news is the Bears don’t have any restrictions on White and aren’t planning on giving him any additional rest days during training camp.

“He’s ready to go,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “He’s had a great summer, a great offseason, so he’s ready to go. You can just feel his confidence gaining, knowledge of the offense and just being comfortable with his body. He’s pretty much unleashed.”

The bad news is until White proves he can play a full season, questions will remain about his durability. Since being drafted, White has dealt with a fractured left tibia and a severe ankle sprain that resulted in a spiral fracture of his fibula. Those two severe injuries mean we don’t really know what White can do — the four games he played last year were perhaps nothing more than an incomplete glimpse. 

White had the third-lowest average yards per target (5.19) among receivers with at least 35 targets last year, which couldn’t have been what the Bears envisioned when they invested a top-10 pick in him. This is a guy who had 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns in his final year at West Virginia, after all. 

The Bears still believe White can be a go-to target opposite the budding Cam Meredith and in conjunction with the trio of veterans (Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Victor Cruz) they signed in the spring. 

“We all can do whatever the coaches put us in position to do,” White said. “I do have a lot of confidence (in) us.”

But from a larger view, the Bears need White succeed so they won’t have to re-draft a player at his position, or at least be tempted to deviate from their best-player-available strategy. Doing so would be a blow to Pace’s efforts to build through the draft, a process that’s also, notably, seen the additions of Cody Whitehair, Jordan Howard, Mitch Trubisky and Adam Shaheen on offense. 

For White to fulfill those big-picture hopes, though, he’ll have to start small — like with Thursday’s practice. Saturday’s practice will be the first time White will take contact since Week 4 of the 2016 season, and the Aug. 10 preseason opener will be his first game action since then, too. 

“It’s hard to get better at something if you don’t practice it,” coach John Fox said. “So getting a string of practices, getting him out there and developing his skill set. He’s got plenty of athletic ability. That’s why he was picked where he was. Now it’s just getting out there and improving (his) skillset.”

White’s love of the game wasn’t marred by the frustration of his first two years in Chicago, though. In fact, the opposite happened. 

“You get something taken away from you a little bit, you enjoy it more,” White said.