Friday, August 30, 2013

And We're Back!

I've been meaning to write this for a while now, but at least I got it in before the regular season started. :) Photo and tickets to the game last night, courtesy of my friend Nathan.

Now that the Bears have their 3rd 4th preseason game under their belt, I feel that I can actually make some educated observations about this relatively new team this year.

The defense seems like it's picking up right where it left off last year. Yes, we've lost Brian Urlacher, but we've got enough veteran leadership with Tillman, Briggs, Peppers, and others that the team will move on. Things will get very interesting around week 2 or 3 when middle linebacker D.J. Williams is recovered from his injury. Right now Jon Bostic is doing a great job, but the Bears didn't sign Williams to a (potentially) $1.75 million contract to be a back up, at least not at the beginning of the year. It should be interesting to see how that turns out in a few weeks.
Outlook for the year: Solid

Special Teams
We lost Dave Toub to the KC Chiefs, but we also lost Devin Hester as a wide receiver. Yes, that second part is a positive. Now that Lovie Smith is gone, the Devin Hester experiment is finally and officially over. He sounds excited to bring his focus back to the return game. I'm excited to watch it! He's had slumps before, and I'm eager to see if he can come back again. I think he can. In other news, dedicated specialists Patrick Mannelly, Adam Podlesh, and Robbie Gould will continue their excellent work.
Outlook for the year: Solid

This is going to be the hardest to nail down. I'm excited to see Jay Cutler play without (legitimate) excuses to hide behind. I think he has much higher potential than he has been able to achieve for the last 4 years with the Bears, and I'm eager to see him reach that potential this year. He's had unstable coaching, play calling, targets, and protection for most of his time here. This year, those handicaps should be gone and I'm looking forward to a Bears team that can let its offense do some of the talking. We look to have a strong offensive line this year (never thought I'd say that), we have plenty of great targets for our QB to throw to, and we have an offensive coordinator who will not only get the plays to the QB well ahead of the play clock, but will probably call some creative plays while doing it. All the pieces are there, I want to see them fall into place.
Outlook for the year: Excited, but cautiously optimistic

The Bears have looked good in the preseason both as a team and as individual players. But as Brad Biggs pointed out, their pre-season opponents had a combined record of 23-41 last season so it's not like they're the cream of the crop. In addition, the 2008 Detroit Lions proved beyond all doubt that a preseason record means absolutely nothing by going 4-0 in those games and then 0-16 in the regular season. But all in all, I like what I'm seeing so far. No matter what happens, it's going to be an exciting year for the Bears.

Bear Down!!!

Friday, August 9, 2013


The last couple days have been intense.

Naturally, I'm about to make it all about me.

On Wednesday, I learned that my brother's best friend's younger brother had been hit by a car. I don't know the details of what happened, but it was bad. He was on life support. He wasn't gone yet, but it was an inevitability. I just couldn't believe it. It seemed impossible that he could be there and then suddenly gone. I never knew him well, but he'd been on the periphery of my life for a long time. I was friends with his sister when we were in high school -- never super close and we haven't kept in touch, but I'd been to their house a few times -- and our brothers have been best friends for years. I couldn't imagine what his family was going through.

On Thursday morning, I got an email from Pat telling me to check Facebook and to call my mom. I haven't been on Facebook much recently; if I was, I would have seen the post as soon as I woke up.

Chris's family was donating his kidney to my dad.

My dad has had kidney disease for years. He had his first transplant in 2000, on New Year's Day in fact. But apparently, transplanted organs don't last forever, and he's needed a new one for some time. Last year, I was going through testing to see if I could be a donor, and it was looking good for a while, but my last couple tests had been less than conclusive, and the doctor wanted me to lose another 10 pounds anyway before he'd consider the surgery, so we were going to wait until I lost the weight and then run the tests again.

I never lost the weight.

In fact, I've been moving slowly in the opposite direction, to the point where I'm almost back where I was three years ago, before I made the decision to get healthy. Which would be frustrating regardless, but with this transplant situation hanging over my head, it makes me feel even worse about it.

And I've been trying... not hard enough, obviously, but TRYING... to get back to making healthy choices. And -- yesterday's stress eating aside -- I feel like I've been doing better recently. Earlier this year, I was at a pretty low point, where I really didn't give a crap about anything. And now, I feel like, mentally... I'm not back to where I was at the peak of my efforts, but I'm closer. I'm moving in the right direction again...

And then this happens, and it messes with my head. Because it was supposed to be me.

After my initial weight loss, I've slipped and started and slipped again so many times in the past couple years, and if this is the time that I finally don't slip... what does that say about me? That subconsciously I never wanted to go through with donating?

Well, eff that.

(Perhaps this would be a good time to start seeing a therapist.)

So anyway... that's where I am... all of my own crap mixed in with the already conflicted emotions of the situation. But back to the current events...

My dad had the surgery last night. He's doing well. Pat and I are driving out for the weekend once he gets off work. There's a service for Chris on Sunday.

The past 24 hours I've been alternating between a numb haze and ALL THE EMOTION, and I have a feeling this weekend is going to be more of the same.