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CHICAGO’S BIG-BALLED SPORTS ARE 3 OF 270 — AND NOW CALEB MIGHT NOT COME?
The city might burn down again before the Bears find a franchise quarterback, and in case the fans are speculating about the future, be aware Caleb Williams’ father already might be ruling it out
To Chicago, the father of the Heisman Trophy winner already is saying no. “The way the system is constructed, you go to the worst possible situation,” said Carl Williams, proud dad of Caleb. “The worst possible team, the worst organization in the league — because of their desire for parity — gets the first pick. So it’s the gift and the curse.”
Meaning? “He’s got two shots at the apple,” he told GQ magazine. “If there’s not a good situation, the truth is, he can come back to school.”
So, for the team that never has found a franchise quarterback since they started playing Super Bowls, forget Caleb Williams at USC. And Shedeur Sanders? Maybe he’d try if he could bring his father to coach, but Deion already has said no to the NFL and is staying at Colorado. “I would never do that,” Coach Prime said. “I love college. I love that young men are still impressionable. They’re not so financially wealthy that they can’t hear you. I’d have a hard time motivating a man that makes upwards of 20 and 30 and maybe 40 million dollars to go out there and do your job. I’ve got a problem with that.”
What we have, then, is a team that should not be playing professional football. The owner, Virginia McCaskey, is 100. Her son, George, was ticket manager when I was there and downscaled to team chairman. He got rid of the coach who couldn’t hack it with the latest failed quarterback, Justin Fields, and sent Matt Nagy back to Kansas City, where he’ll be the next head coach when Patrick Mahomes — who thought he’d be a Bear until they took Mitchell Trubisky first — is the face of the league. He also got rid of the general manager, Ryan Pace, which allowed him to replace a Ryan and a Matt with another Ryan and a Matt — Poles and Eberflus — neither of whom has any idea how to run an operation.
When I worked there for 17 years and saw one Super Bowl, though I’m not sure it ever happened except Prince played “Purple Rain,” I always said Chicago has two big balls. One is baseball, where the Cubs have won one World Series since 1908 and the White Sox have won one World Series since 1917. The Bears have won one Super Bowl since 1967. That means the two big-balled sports have tried to play in 270 events and won exactly three times in a century-plus.
On my computer or yours, the equation comes out to winning once in 90 times. Just what is the point, oh big city, of continuing to try?
“Definitely have a lot to fix,” Fields said as 0-2 gradually swells to 2-15 after a dozen straight losses. “I think in this position you can do one of two things, and that’s either lay down and just kind of throw in the towel and just say whatever. But I don’t think anybody on this team is like that. My job and the coach's job is to keep everybody going, keep everybody’s morale up. It’s a long season.”
Not to slay Fields, who never has learned to pass when an NFL passer is obligated to do so, but his first two tries in his third season were abysmal. The interception that killed him Sunday, as he stood behind his own goal line, was throwing it directly to Tampa Bay linebacker Shaq Barrett, who rumbled in for the score. The reason I’m writing this? For month after month after month, I kept reading the b.s. of Chicago media people who insisted Fields is the right call.
“He’s my quarterback,” said a columnist from The Athletic, who no longer gets a mention here, or any obligation to follow him.
Other writers expressed optimism, this being a key theme in Chicago, where goofy fans cry “negative” when you’re trying to convey the obvious and writers somehow try to appease them. How about just getting it right and state it? When your team has been around more than 100 years, chances are you’ll be spot-on when you say the QB stinks. And when you get it right, they’ll call you negative anyway, and so what? You’re correct. They’re goofs.
Um, why do three teams in Chicago’s big-balled sports never win? Because the media are softies and let the owners be horrible. I once knew a sportswriter there, now a radio guy, tell me he never could write the way I did because his relatives would get mad.
Today, while all the usual junk is spooled, I’ll tell you why Caleb Williams and Shedeur Sanders might not come, either. That puts me way ahead of the game, in Los Angeles, where the weather is 72 and sunny and teams have won titles in football, baseball and basketball since 2020. That’s three in three years, as opposed to three in 270 years. I left Chicago to get away from the muck.
I just wanted to provide another reason.
Jay Mariotti, called “without question the most impacting Chicago sportswriter of the past quarter-century,’’ writes general sports columns for Substack while appearing on some of the 1,678,498 podcasts and shows in production today. He is an accomplished columnist, TV panelist and talk/podcast host. Living in Los Angeles, he gravitated by osmosis to film projects.