By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) Good luck, now, to that ravenous swarm that descended on Bourbonnais yesterday.
The metallic cluster of microphones thrust toward the mouths of Bears, seeking sustenance in the form of news, the empty notebooks yearning to be filled, the clicking digital SLRs and rolling video cameras all may be victims of another kind of historic, summer drought.
Is there a single Bears story at the moment that’s actually compelling?
OK, they’re probably good. Perhaps probably very good. There’s a new general manager, and a head coach with a contract through 2013. The oddball, misfit offensive coordinator has been jettisoned, everyone’s healthy, nobody’s holding out, and there have been no arrests, steroid violations, or unfortunate, drunken rants on Twitter.
So what we’ll do as we dive into full-blown training-camp coverage is act like idiots. I say we, because I am a part of it, too. With time and space allotted, and urgent voiceovers recorded, we will make the mundane…urgent. You’ve been warned.
Ready for the “Cutler Watch,” as every throw that leaves his hand is charted and analyzed, including warm-up tosses, one-on-one drills, and flipping his gum into the garbage? God forbid he rolls his eyes after a drop by a receiver, lest he ignite speculation about a rift that eventually pits new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates against easily-angered receivers coach Darryl Drake, with a bewildered Mike Tice in the crossfire.
Ali/Frazier has nothing on Williams/Webb, the heavyweight title-fight at left tackle. On the undercard are Toeaina/Paea (The Pacific Island Showdown!! Samoa vs. Tonga!!), and Jennings/Hayden at cornerback (Somebody vs. …Somebody Else!!).
If Day One is any indication, Lovie Smith’s future under Phil Emery is somehow on the front burner, as silly as that is, as if the next two months of drills and walk-throughs can possibly advance that story in any meaningful, sane direction.
There is little drama regarding the roster and eventual cutdowns, which means we’ll have to create a couple August superstars who make a noticeable play here and there. Remember the ongoing Zach Bowman plotline of interceptions that didn’t count? There will be at least one heretofore-anonymous camp body who becomes temporarily known.
The heat of the practice field is cooled each day by Smith’s anodyne drawl, as he dismissively parries reporters’ questions. His now well-practiced technique has tamped down most of the regulars on the beat, taking the edge off by discouraging follow-ups from the sweaty pack wilting under the relentless sun.
Emery has cut off access to assistant coaches and has acted aggressively to seal information leaks in the front office, moving the organization toward the Belichick-ian model of impenetrable monolith. He, too, is working on a way of talking without saying anything interesting or newsworthy.
So, we work with what we have, and it isn’t much.
A heritage NFL franchise in a top-three market should make for fascinating times as it begins training for a season that holds high expectations. Their roster includes star players in every phase, and future Hall-of-Famers. There are both current greats and all-timers involved. And this while the national energy of pro football is at a high-water mark.
Yet we hurry up and wait, all of us trying to do our jobs as both providers and consumers of all things Bears, eager to get on with it.
Until there is action that matters, beware silly season.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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