By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Shortly after taking the job as Chicago Bears general manager, Ryan Pace made a bold statement.
It wasn’t a prediction on wins next season or a timetable for a championship. No, it was something more personal, more baptism by dumpster fire.
“I need to grind on tape of the Chicago Bears,” Pace told 670 The Score mere minutes after his introductory press conference. “I have a general feel, guys, but I need to watch every single play of this entire season and know this roster inside and out. And for me, that’ll be locking myself in an office, putting on some headphones and burying my head in the tape. I think that’s what I’m natural at, and that’s what got me here.
“For us to have an offseason plan and know what we’re going to do going forward, it starts with assessing the current roster accurately, and I can’t wait to do that.”
It all had a “check out the new guy” sad chuckle response from those of us who knew better than ever voluntarily touch the 16 different game tapes now used in military assassin training to strip candidates of all shreds of humanism. But, hey, we were all full of positivity and moxie many, many two years ago.
And Pace wasn’t lying. He got right to it, locking himself away and cutting himself off from nearly all human contact from Jan. 10 up until he left this week for Indianapolis and the NFL Combine. The time between apparently wasn’t pretty. I have (totally, seriously) obtained from sources within the Bears organization a sort of journal kept (not sarcastically whatsoever) by Pace throughout the harrowing ordeal. It appears that when you grind into the Bears tape, the Bears tape grinds back at you.
Excerpts are as follows.
They seriously lost to Buffalo at home? Jeez, I hope that interception Jay Cutler threw across his body to a defensive lineman in the fourth quarter of a tie game isn’t something of a pattern with my QB…
This is a promising team I’m watching. Two straight road victories. Cutler proving that Buffalo was a fluke. A defense with a nose for the ball. I’m feeling good here. I went to grab a statuette of Curtis Conway from a bookshelf, and it was actually a lever that opened a very large liquor cabinet.
My dearest Stephanie,
Times they have soured here. I have just returned from the tape of the Carolinas. Oh, how I could have used your sweet, melodic words and warm embrace during the ordeal. The men don’t seem to understand the concept of picking up a loose ball. I am much vexed, but a return home spurs me on. I shall endure. My love to our daughter. She shall see her daddy anon.
I find myself identifying with Brandon Marshall after the Dolphins loss. While some might claim he held the Bears’ locker room hostage, he only wants what’s best. How often do we even try to understand a hostage situation from the captor’s point of view?
They say Cutler doesn’t care. Maybe it is we who don’t care and he cares too much. Ever think of that?
At night I can swear I hear through the walls the voice of Dave Wannstedt. He may be squatting here at Halas Hall. I have slipped notes under my office door into the hallway asking, begging him or anyone to tell me if they feel like I feel. Weep as I weep. Bleed. Sweat. Shake. Use the helmet autographed by the 1997 Bears team as a toilet. I need to know I am not the last person on earth.
The Packers’ and Patriots’ points, they don’t stop. Every point scored on this team has its own voice. And the voices don’t stop. “It’s a process,” they whisper. “Grow the football,” they taunt. “Sahsidge,” they warble.
I am glad my office has no shower. For I have bathed in the blood of the Viking and Buccaneer infidels. I am reborn anew.
Fitting that I have absorbed the Thanksgiving game because I have begun to eat what is left of my feelings. I believe I have a family in the traditional sense of the word, though names escape me. These game tapes are now like my family. Not perfect, but genuine and always there for me. And satisfyingly warm when removed from the machine on a lonely night.
[The journal at this time has been transferred to a Burger King promotional coloring book from the 1987 season. The ink is now red.]
I watched a kick returner crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream … that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.
I have ceased to be able to taste or smell things. A device has been manufactured from the fax machine to process pizza boxes and books written by coaches into a nourishing paste. There was a game with black and gold uniforms. Something seemed familiar. I found myself screamlaughing “WHO DAT” until I was hoarse. Ryan Pace no longer lives there.
Ryan Pace no longer lives here.
I have seen the benching and resurrection of the Cutler. Love is not real. A manmade concept of pacifying the nonbelievers. Now I am become death.
Nine points in a loss to Vikings. It is complete. The metamorphosis, the cocoon is torn. I am free, though not finished. It is to the mythic land of Indianapolis I now go.
To fulfill the prophecy that the departed will again return.
Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBaffoe.