By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Happy New Year. Let’s be honest—2012 really sucked for Chicago sports. Outside of college football, with the either loved or hated Notre Dame, Northwestern being above average in a bad B1G conference, and the 14 people that were Northern Illinois football fans before the season started, rooting for teams here was very banana-esque.
Here’s to 2013 bringing us better, especially on the pro circuit, though looking at the Bulls, Bears, and Cubs as they stand right now, hope might need to be abandoned. The White Sox should contend for a playoff spot, and the Blackhawks… I’m going to stop talking hockey right now and avoid salting any wounds.
Weekend. Get some.
On to your questions. All emails and tweets are unedited.
top 3 coaches you think would be a good fit based on emery hinted he is looking for? #bearsHCsearch—@Jasonjordan09
Phil Emery basically said without saying that the next Bears head coach will be from an offensive background rather than the traditional defensive background the past three coaches have had (and failed with) or at least needs to have a convincing offensive plan. Some current special teams coaches will also get a look, probably including Bears coordinator Dave Toub.
I couldn’t honestly narrow it down to the “top 3” right now because I don’t know a) exactly what the roster will look like come Week 1 of 2013 (don’t count out several significant player changes this offseason), b) what each of the candidates would be like with Jay Cutler, something Emery made a point to mention in his press conference on Tuesday, and c) what to definitely expect from what seems to be a focus on a first-time NFL head coach, which I don’t have a problem with, but note that the last Bears head coach that had previous NFL head coaching experience was George Halas.
The names I’ve heard so far don’t trouble me, though, and that’s at least a good sign. Offensive coordinators Bruce Arians of the Colts, Mike McCoy of the Broncos, Mike Sullivan of the Buccaneers (who has a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and at least scores him points in the badass department), Tom Clements of the Packers, and Pete Carmichael of the Saints have all done impressive things with their respective teams in 2012 and prior, most notably their work with quarterbacks. After Tuesday’s press conference, I have full faith in Emery’s ability to find “the guy,” but to say who that will be would be pure speculation right now.
#TFMB Josh Brent, Jovan Belcher, and the emotionally immature pro athlete. Discuss.—@ddohertyjr
We too often forget that these people who do seemingly superhuman stuff on fields and courts are still very much human. When their work day ends they go home to most of the same issues you and I do. Their kids are having the same problems with their math homework, their toilets break a few hours after eating Mexican food, they get the flu, they make fun of Full House until they realize they just watched six episodes of a marathon. They also have issues with friends and relatives, they also suffer from depression, they also are susceptible to substance abuse.
We also too often incorrectly assume that because these guys make so much money that riches should either prevent or “cure” the negatives of life. “I wish I could get millions to play a game. You wouldn’t see me being an idiot like these guys.” Oh, really? If anything, gobs of money usually compound such problems.
Consider, most pro athletes have been told all their lives that they are the absolute best. The story here and there of the kid who defied being told “You’re too small” or “Don’t follow your dream” makes for good sappy feature stories, but for 99% of these pros they were always miles ahead of their competition growing up, and adults—some of whom may have been trying to get a piece of the athlete’s pie—made sure to let the stud kid know it. Then that kid becomes an adult and is thrust into the spotlight with most of the same people from childhood whispering in his or her ear, and when a juvenile decision is made, we crap on the person.
What about the large amount of athletes that come from broken homes, traumatic households, and other environmental situations as children that certainly shape them psychologically? Couple that with society often passively but sometimes aggressively creating a culture where a man asking for help or discussing his problems is seen as a weakness, and then we wonder how a physically strong man could be so mentally weak.
And then there are the athletes that come from otherwise stable homes (though, in my teaching experience I can tell you that many homes are often just disguised as stable) but become consumed with their sport to the point that they never really have a childhood. Again, the great story of the guy who didn’t start playing his sport until late in high school and is now a pro is a rarity. How many NHL players have been on a rink every day since they could skate? Almost all. When does baseball season end for a kid in Florida or Arizona with MLB aspirations? Never. Hey, your high school just won the basketball state championship! Now your AAU season starts tomorrow. There are more Todd Marinovich situations out there than we like to acknowledge.
And this insanity is encouraged, and I don’t even mean by just the awful sports parents who scream at games and confront coaches violently. High school games are televised nationally now, as are college signings. Don’t even get me started on the Little League World Series. And while I could chastise ESPN for pimping kids, they’re only doing it because they know people will watch.
I don’t absolve guys like Belcher or Brent (though I’d be interested to see what the former’s brain looked like under a microscope), and adults need to take responsibility for their actions no matter who they are. I also don’t pretend pro athletes should always be expected to walk the fine line we’ve drawn for them after the world has done what it can to make them maladjusted people.
Hey TFM, long time reader first time tweeter. Would you rather fight 10 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck? #TFMB—@CBoers
Ten duck-sized horses for sure. Any horse-sized animal poses serious matchup problems for me. And what can duck-sized horses do to me? Especially with boxing gloves on.
Thanks for emailing, tweeting, and reading. If your question did not get answered this time, that does not necessarily mean I am ignoring it. It may be saved for the next mailbag. Hopefully you’re a slightly better person now than you were ten minutes ago. If not, your loss.
Want your questions answered in a future Mailbag? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them with the hashtag #TFMB. No question, sports or otherwise, is off limits (with certain logistical exceptions, e.g. lots of naughty words or you type in Portuguese or you solicit my death). If you email, please include a signature.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at email@example.com. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.