MORRISSEY: Isn’t just Urlacher, franchise doesn’t like you either
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org December 17, 2012 10:40PM
In this Dec. 2, 2012, photo, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) walks off the field following their 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game in Chicago. Urlacher's status for this Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings and beyond is in question after he was injured on the final drive of their game against the Seahawks. The Chicago Tribune, citing sources, reported Tuesday, Dec. 4, that he is expected to miss three games and possibly the rest of the regular season. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: January 19, 2013 6:20AM
‘‘Two of the people I don’t care about: fans or media.’’ — Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, Dec. 16, 2012
That might be the quote of the year, not just for its Yogi Berra clumsiness, but because it perfectly represents the disdain the Bears have for the people who follow them.
Usually we get only a glimpse of the team’s true feelings via a dirty look or good, old-fashioned condescension. But now it’s all on the table, in words, impossible to misconstrue. Urlacher, the Bears’ future Hall of Famer, made the above statement Sunday after Fox-32 sports anchor Lou Canellis asked him what he thought of the people calling for the firing of coach Lovie Smith.
“Those people don’t know what they’re talking about, obviously,’’ he added.
Urlacher doesn’t care about the fans. And neither do the Bears, who charge an average of $111 a ticket and laugh at you poor, witless slobs all the way to the bank.
It would be easy to say Urlacher was simply lashing out on an emotional issue, but if you’ve paid any attention to this franchise during the Smith era, you know that the Bears treat media members like nonpersons. It means that fans, by extension, get the same nonperson treatment, with all the eye-rolling contempt that goes with it.
So before we jump all over Urlacher, let’s understand that he’s a product of the professional environment he was brought up in here. Sunday’s comments simply open the window to that environment a little wider.
The franchise’s paranoid attitude has been there all along. And friendliness? Well, Colin Montgomerie has nothing on the Bears.
In his nine years as coach, Smith couldn’t have been more dismissive of the media. He has never cared that, by doing so, he was also deeming fans as unworthy of his valuable time and deep well of football knowledge. He has made a career out of saying nothing — not out of having nothing to say, but out of sheer disregard for his audience.
He’s not alone.
Phil Emery rarely talks with the media. He is the general manager of an NFL team. Amazing.
Virginia McCaskey, the owner of the team, makes herself available to reporters about as often as white smoke wafts from the Sistine Chapel.
You can count on one or two fingers the times chairman George McCaskey, her son, has sat down with the media as a group this year.
That’s how a player of Urlacher’s stature — a player whose jersey hundreds of people wear to Bears games — can say publicly that he doesn’t care about the fans. It’s shocking it came out of his mouth. It’s not so shocking an attitude like that would be allowed to take root and grow in Lake Forest.
Urlacher was upset with the fans who booed the Bears during a 21-13 loss to the Packers at Soldier Field.
“The boos were really loud, which is always nice,’’ he said. “The only team in our division that gets booed at home is us. It’s incredible to me.’’
What’s incredible is that anyone who has watched the Bears fall apart the last six games would think boos weren’t warranted.
Holding to form, Smith said Monday he was unaware that the person most closely associated with the franchise had ripped the paying customers the night before. At least quarterback Jay Cutler admitted Bears fans had a reason to boo.
I’d like to tell you all this would change with Smith’s firing, but I’m not sure it would, not with the McCaskeys in charge, which, as far as I can tell, is for eternity.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve had people tell me that Bears ownership needs to change. It’s like saying a mountain needs to move. The McCaskeys aren’t going away. You don’t get to choose who owns your favorite football team. Life is unfair that way. In Chicago, life is cruel that way.
The coach might not be back after this season and the star linebacker might not be re-signed, but ownership and the bizarre, stifling atmosphere at Halas Hall will remain in place. So will the team’s view of you, the fan.
Outbursts often happen when a team collapses during a once-promising season. You get rawness. You get honesty.
It’s not fun to witness. But at least we nonpersons now know where we stand. In a corner, ignored.