Oct 22, 2021

What difference would Tom Brady have made for the Bears?

What difference would Tom Brady have made for the Bears?
(USA Today Sports)

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Good morning, frents!

So is Vic Fangio going to beat Matt Nagy to the unemployment line? After last night's Broncos loss to Cleveland, it's sure looking that way.

Many weird alternate timelines have opened in the past few years.

So why couldn't we have gotten the one where Tom Brady left the New England Patriots to join the Chicago Bears?

The answer, of course, is because we got the one where the Cubs won the World Series — a trade half the city is still willing to make.

But as the Bears prepare to face Brady the Buccaneer for the second time, we still like to play what-if. Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune even went long on the topic on Thursday.

Figuring out how the Bears would've ruined quarterbacks they famously passed on has been a fun Chicago parlor game for years.

Name a quarterback the Bears could've drafted — Joe Montana, Brady the first time, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes — and we'll be quick with a retort about that guy managing a rental car counter after bombing out at Halas Hall.

It's not often that a quarterback becomes available a second time, though. Add in Tampa Tom winning almost immediately after landing in Florida and it makes us wonder what he would have done here.

There's no real evidence that Brady wanted to be a Bear. He was reportedly done playing in cold weather and playing for Bruce Arians was — just a hunch here, really — more attractive than playing for Matt Nagy.

But let's lean into this anyway.

Reasons Brady would've succeeded in Chicago
He's Tom Freakin' Brady. It made sense to doubt him before last season, but with the knowledge he was capable of winning a Super Bowl at age 43 in his first season with a new team? Though they had a loaded receiving corps and a top-10 defense, it's not like Tampa Bay was a model franchise. They were a team with some good parts, but in desperate need of a functional quarterback. Sound like anyone we know? People forget, but the Bucs were only 11-5 during the last regular season. The Bears were 8-8. Think they might've found three additional wins with Brady under center? Two of them might've even come from Green Bay, which means Brady would've gotten at least one home playoff game — something he didn't get in Tampa.

Reasons Brady would've failed in Chicago
Brady proved he didn't need Bill Belichick to win a Super Bowl, but he still clearly needs a trusted collaborator with a headset. Arians is a two-time coach of the year who will probably end up in the Hall of Fame one day. Nagy is still assuring us that his complicated offense is about to start paying dividends any day now. The 2020 Bears also wasn't as well constructed as the Buccaneers. Last year's defense didn't get enough push, the receiving corps wasn't even half of Tampa Bay's and the offensive line probably would've had all of us apologizing to Gisele for making her a widow. As much as I'd like to imagine Brady doing the unthinkable for the Bears, it still seems like a bridge too far for a number of reasons.

What do you think? How much of a difference would Brady have made?

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How Ed Farmer almost missed the call of Paul Konerko's World Series grand slam

By Matt Rodewald

Note: Saturday is the 16th anniversary of one of the biggest moments in White Sox history. To celebrate, we're re-running this piece from former Chicago radio guy (and current friend of the Minute) Matt Rodewald.

In the seventh inning of Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, Ed Farmer paused on the Chicago White Sox radio broadcast for a station ID on ESPN 1000. He did it more than once an hour. At odd times, in the middle of an at-bat, it always kept me on my toes, but he liked it. It was him playing announcer, and it usually wasn’t a big deal.

But in the 10 seconds between me hitting the button on the board and him going back on the air, Paul Konerko took the first pitch and unloaded a grand slam into the left field bleachers. In 30 years, that ballpark has never been louder.

Farmer missed the call.

But he quickly made up for it. When I told him “go,” he launched into the home run call from scratch. Konerko was already 10 feet from teammates waiting for him at home plate on a rainy, dreary October night, but Farmer understood the magnitude of that home run.

“Here’s Konerko and the pitch to PK. Swing and a long one to left! It’s gonna go! It’s a slam! Sox lead! 6-4! Light it up!!”

He ended up saving the call of a lifetime. Only three people knew.

Ed Farmer would tell you he wasn’t the best broadcaster. He was a baseball guy who happened to be on the radio. When you told him to “stand by,” his dry response was “we’re sitting.”

He never took it too seriously, until the moment called for it. That’s what I enjoyed the most about “Farmio.” The Evergreen Park guy who fought through adversity his whole life managed to do it in his biggest broadcasting moment and saved it.

Trivia question: Name the Sox who were on base for the grand slam.

News and results

Hawks: Another loss drops team to 0-4-1
Leadership reportedly isn't even discussing firing Jeremy Colliton, but what's it going to take? Thursday's 4-1 loss to Vancouver was another exercise in disappointment. The team hasn't held a lead the entire season and has managed only nine goals in five games while being torched at even-strength. The fans who are still sticking around deserve more than a punchline this year.

Next: The Red Wings come calling on Sunday night

Saturday's college games

Illinois (+24) at #7 Penn State (11 am, ABC): Should the 2-5 Illini just consider it a moral victory if they put points on the board? Penn State has won three straight in the series, averaging 53 points in each victory.

Northwestern (+23.5) at #6 Michigan (11 am, Fox): The Wildcats offense can't score enough even if the defense has plans on an upset in the Big House. The Wolverines are a perfect 6-0 so far while Northwestern is 3-3.

USC (+7) at #13 Notre Dame (6:30, NBC): The best non-conference rivalry under the lights in South Bend. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday night.

Northern Illinois (+5) at Central Michigan (11 am, ESPNU): The Huskies can take a two-game lead in the division with a win, but it won't be easy. Central Michigan has won six of the last seven games, including a 40-10 victory last year.

  1. Brandon Marshall and Marc Trestman did a podcast together and reminisced about the good old days. Bears Wire
  2. Leila Rahimi's post-apocalyptic prediction for the Bears-Bucs game made me laugh. 670 The Score
  3. One of the best ways to follow the Bulls this season is Stephen Noh's game breakdowns in his excellent newsletter. Substack
  4. Seven things the WNBA can do as it rises in popularity. Star Tribune
  5. The Chicago startup incubator that's supporting indie craft brewers. Fortune

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