View from the Moon: There is life away from football

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View from the Moon: There is life away from football

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted: 10:32 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Donovan McNabb certainly has read and seen enough to know that his long-term future isnt as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. The likely Hall of Famer isnt sitting idle, however, and it has nothing to do with the NFL lockout.

McNabb will be serving as an in-studio host for Comcast SportsNets first-round coverage of the NCAA tournament. And hes no interloping Donovan-come-lately to this game. Chicagoan McNabb played for Syracuse from 1995-97, as a guard, if you can imagine that; if he always seems to have some quicks afoot, now you know why.

McNabb will be doing some hits on Washingtons edition of our SportsNet Central beginning Thursday.
And speaking of hoops.
If you havent jumped into our Comcast SportsNets Bracket Challenge 2011, you need to. Great prizes (including an iPad2 so you wont have to wait in line somewhere) and you also can match picks with Marty Turco, Ryan Dempster, Mark Buehrle and a to-be-named Bull. Check it out.

But be forewarned: Youre also picking against the likes of me, and I am a defending champion (thats pronounced Cham-PEEN) and on the ever-sage advice of my two-time Buckeye daughter Jenny, have gone chalk and anointed Ohio State as the national champion.

What Im saying here is that youre all working at second place.

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.

Malik Hooker carries high-risk, high-reward question for Bears

Malik Hooker carries high-risk, high-reward question for Bears

With eight interceptions and three fumble recoveries, the Bears finished dead last in the NFL with 11 takeaways in 2016. That represents a glaring need the Bears began to address with a free agency overhaul of their secondary.

The prevailing thought has been that if the Bears draft a defensive back with the third overall pick on Thursday, it'll be LSU safety Jamal Adams. But there's another safety with top-10 hype that could serve the Bears' desperate need for takeaways: Ohio State's Malik Hooker. 

[MOON'S DRAFT PREVIEW: More secondary upgrades needed

Hooker picked off seven passes as part of Ohio State's outrageously good secondary in 2016. His elite range and knack for interceptions make him a tantalizing prospect, especially for a team that needs that center fielder-type safety. 

"Any ball that's in the air, it's my ball," Hooker said. "I feel like I'm a playmaker. Any time I had a chance to make a play or change momentum of a game, I took it upon myself to do so."

But while Hooker has that ballhawking skill (and returner-like vision once he has the ball in his hands) that Adams perhaps doesn't, he doesn't appear as "safe" a pick as Adams. 

Whereas Adams played all three of his years at LSU, Hooker redshirted 2014, barely played in 2015 and then exploded last fall. One year of tape isn't much — even if it's excellent tape — which makes Hooker more of a projection. 

And it's worth noting that Hooker played hurt at the end of the year and underwent hip surgery to repair a torn labrum and sports hernia surgeries on both sides in January, too. While Hooker said at the combine he's expecting to be ready to participate in rookie minicamp in mid-May, he carries risk for a team like the Bears picking in the top five. 

Adams, on the other hand, is one of six or seven prospects ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay described on their "First Draft" podcast as "clean" — as in, without injury-related red flags — among the top 20 prospects in this year's draft. Hooker and fellow Ohio State defensive back Marshon Lattimore have injury concerns, as does Alabama's Jonathan Allen, the defensive lineman who's been mentioned as a possibility for the Bears at No. 3. 

[Check out Malik Hooker's Draft Profile]

Hooker pushed back on questions about his health in Indianapolis, explaining that he elected to have the surgery with an eye on being healthy for his first football activities with whatever team drafts him.

"The film says what it says," Hooker said. "I feel like a lot of teams will want me to be healthy for the year coming in because surgery was my decision. It wasn't like I needed the surgery, I decided to do that because at that point of the season, I knew I made the decision I was going to declare for this upcoming draft. It was moreso preparing myself to get ready for rookie minicamp coming up."

Draft history shows it's rare for a safety to be a top-five pick, let alone a top-three one. But as the NFL continues to be more and more of a pass-oriented league, why not reach for someone who can command a defense like Adams or create game-changing turnovers like Hooker?

"I feel like we're both very good players," Hooker said. "I feel like we're definitely capable of going top 10, top 5."

If the Bears think a safety is worth their highest pick since 1972, then the prevailing question becomes: Would the payoff for Hooker be worth the risk?

Jordan Howard not resting on 2016 success: 'I want to make the Hall of Fame'

Jordan Howard not resting on 2016 success: 'I want to make the Hall of Fame'

Josh Bellamy considers Jordan Howard his "nephew," and has communicated a message to the second-year running back: Forget about 2016. 

2016, of course, was the year in which the 22-year-old Howard set the Bears' single-season rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards and was a Pro Bowl selection. That's not necessarily easy to leave behind. 

"What we did last year, that's in the past," Bellamy said. "So you gotta do that every year. You do that every year, man, you'll get in the Hall of Fame, and you'll be one of those guys that goes to the Pro Bowl every year, like Adrian Peterson, those guys. Forget last year and let's move forward."

Howard was at Halas Hall Tuesday to be honored along with Bellamy as the 2016 Piccolo Award winners ("It’s a real honor to win this award along with J.B.," Howard said). He spoke like someone who has his sights set on greater accomplishments than one year of 1,000-plus yards or a January trip to Orlando. 

"Ever since I've been playing this game, I always wanted to be the best," Howard said. "That's still my drive. I want to be the best player. I want to make the Hall of Fame. But I also want to win Super Bowls. I want to keep getting better so the team can get better as well."

That Howard was standing in Halas Hall talking about Hall of Fame aspirations is somewhat incredible, given a year ago he tumbled all the way to the fifth round and the 150th overall pick. 

That he fell that far was a surprise to him, and also to some observers — NFL.com's writeup pegged him as a second or third-round pick and compared him to Arian Foster. 

"I didn't go where I thought I was going to be going," Howard said. "So that was kind of a disappointment. But I was very grateful to be selected at all."

And the Bears, of course, are grateful to have landed him.