Welcome to Midway Minute, the daily Chicago sports newsletter. Did someone forward you this? Join our list for free to get this email in your inbox.
Good morning, frents!
You can ask Santa Claus to give a Chicago sports team one (1) present.
What would it be?
Reply to this email with your wish list and I'll print the most creative responses next week.
COVID-19 makes a long season even longe
Because the Bears weren't already having enough fun this season, they're now experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak as Monday night's Vikings game approaches.
- Another six players were added to the COVID-19 list on Thursday, bringing the team's total to 12. Among the newcomers: Allen Robinson, Eddie Jackson and Ryan Nall.
- All three Bears coordinators — Bill Lazor, Sean Desai and Chris Tabor —were also placed in protocol.
- An additional 13 (!) Bears didn't participate in Thursday's practice, including eight who were sidelined with "illness." That group includes David Montgomery, Cole Kmet, Khalil Herbert, James Daniels and Teven Jenkins.
So that's 25 players in flux for the 4-9 Bears on Monday Night Football. Damien Williams is currently the only healthy running back, Darnell Mooney and Damiere Byrd are the only healthy receivers and more than half of the offensive line is questionable.
Other than that, things are going great!
The Bears are far from the only sports team dealing with the virus as numbers soar higher. Northwestern and DePaul's game was canceled on Saturday because of positive tests in the Blue Demon program. The Bulls expect to return against the Lakers on Sunday, but Russell Westbrook was just added to Los Angeles' growing caseload. Sixty NHL players entered protocols over the last four days and the Canadiens just played in an empty arena.
The Vikings have their own issues, too, though not to the extent of the Bears with three active roster players and three practice squad players on the COVID list.
The NFL and NFLPA changed some of their COVID-19 rules on Thursday to make it easier for vaccinated and asymptomatic players to return to the field. Navigating this winter won't be easy for anyone.
Will the Bears get enough players back to mount a proper roster? Monday night is still a long way away and it'll be interesting to see how this develops.
For a 4-9 squad, the Bears have never had a dull moment, have they?
Cure Bowl: NIU vs. Coastal Carolina
Bowl season kicks off today with two games, including NIU facing the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina in Orlando.
The MAC champions are 10.5-point underdogs against the favorite from the Sun Belt. The Huskies will need to score a lot of points to keep up in this one. Coastal Carolina QB Grayson McCall is one of the best quarterbacks in college football and might be hitting the transfer portal after tonight's game.
But Huskies transfer QB Rocky Lombardi has been a good story, too and it'll be fun to see him go head-to-head with McCall. These two teams combined for an average of 71.9 points this season, so buckle up for offense and not a lot of defense.
🏈 Recommend Midway Minute to a friend and earn some newsletter swag. Grab your personal referral code here.
1. Adam Hoge says the Bears are doing their homework on possible GM candidates. He makes a case for and against Ryan Pace. NBC Sports Chicago
2. RIP Lionel Antoine. The offensive tackle was the third overall pick in the 1972 NFL draft and played for the Bears until 1979. Biloxi Sun-Herald
3. Anthony Rizzo says he noticed a definite difference with the baseballs in 2021. CBS Sports
4. Mario Tirabassi looks at the Hawks' narrow path to the playoffs. Bleacher Nation
5. The best places in Chicago to eat pierogi. Eater Chicago
You've reached the end of Midway Minute!
If you enjoy this newsletter, you can ...
✍️ Become a supporting member and get extra perks
🍺 Buy us a coffee or beer
👍 Refer some friends and earn some cool Midway Minute swag
🔗 Recommend a link or story