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Tank Johnson TrialBy: Larry Mayer

SKOKIE, Ill. – Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson on Thursday was sentenced to 120 days in jail by Cook County Circuit Court Judge John J. Moran for a probation violation stemming from a 2005 gun charge.

Johnson was arrested and charged Dec. 14 with six misdemeanor counts of possession of a firearm without a Firearm Owner’s Identification card after Gurnee police served a search warrant on his home.

The 25-year-old was on probation at the time after he had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that resulted after a nightclub valet alerted police about seeing a gun in Johnsonâ€s car.
Johnson was immediately taken into custody after Moran delivered the sentence, which also included a $2,500 fine and 84 days of home confinement that have already been served.

With good behavior, Johnson is expected to serve half of the sentence, or 60 days. He could have received up to a year in jail.

Despite the ruling, Johnsonâ€s job with the Bears remains secure.

“We continue our support of Tank and he will remain a member of our football team,” the team said in a statement. “Tank has made many positive changes to better his life. We believe he will continue on this path at the conclusion of his sentence.”

Bears coach Lovie Smith and All-Pro middle linebacker Brian Urlacher were among those who testified on Johnsonâ€s behalf during Thursdayâ€s proceedings, which lasted two and a half hours.

Smith described Johnson as a very personable, pleasant and friendly person who often took advantage of the coach’s open-door policy to chat about a variety of different subjects.

"He's a guy you want to talk to," Smith said. “He’s a great teammate who is liked by all of our players."

The Bears coach said the prospect of going to jail would be “devastating in the short and long term” for Johnson.

“I see the change in Tank,” Smith said. “He’s ready to move on with his life and be a positive person. Tank Johnson is a good guy. I know that. No one has to tell me that. That’s why I’m down here testifying on his behalf.”

Urlacher spoke about a meeting late last season during which all five Bears’ team captains urged Smith not to cut Johnson. The gathering took place after the notorious incident at the Ice Bar.

William Posey, the man arrested at Johnsonâ€s home during the search and charged with felony marijuana possession, was shot and killed at the club. Johnson was present, and although he was not directly involved in the incident, he was suspended by the Bears for one game for showing poor judgment.

“All five of us put our necks on the line,” Urlacher said. “He’s part of our family. Tank’s not a bad guy. He’s made some bad decisions, but he’s still a good guy. I don’t think he’s a criminal. He’s a good person. He’s doing the right thing and he’s a good friend of mine.”

Johnson closed the proceedings by making an eloquent and passionate statement to the court. He discussed how a difficult childhood had forced him to develop leadership skills and shaped him as a man and a father. He described himself as humble and big-hearted with an infectious personality.

Johnson spoke glowingly of his two young daughters and indicated that he intends to marry his fiancée. He admitted that he’s made some mistakes but stressed that he’s never hurt another human being and loves interacting with all people.

Given the nature of Johnsonâ€s transgression and the support he receivedâ€one former high school teacher and football coach traveled all the way from Arizona to testify on his behalf—attorney Lorna Propes was stunned by the decision.

“I think this sentence was unnecessarily harsh for this young man,” Propes said. “I do not believe the court adequately or even really at all considered the testimony that came in in his behalf. It is largely unheard of for a person with a similar charge to get this kind of sentence.”

Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Rick Cenar disagreed.

“We think it was a fair and appropriate sentence,” Cenar said. “Thatâs what we were recommending; some time in Cook County Jail. He was on probation and we felt that to give another sentence of probation would deprecate the seriousness of the new offense.â€

Propes is convinced that Johnsonâ€s status as a professional football player impacted the case.

“The fact that he’s a celebrity complicates the matter,” she said. “When was the last time that the head prosecutor came down to handle a misdemeanor violation of probation case instead of just letting the courtroom lawyers do that? That never happens.

“This case came down so much harder on him than it would on anybody else. I can’t say that it’s because he was a Chicago Bear. I don’t know why it is. All I’m saying to you is he was treated far more harshly. I challenge you all to go find another misdemeanor case of this type handled in this way.”

Tank Johnson - Bears Defensive Tackle
8 years ago  |  Comments (0)
Bears Roster Info. (as of 3/8)By: Larry Mayer

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Some may perceive the recent changes the Bears have made in a different light. But general manager Jerry Angelo insists that the NFC champions are not in a rebuilding mode.

Since Super Bowl XLI, the Bears have hired four new assistant coaches, anointed Cedric Benson the starting running back after trading Thomas Jones and heard linebacker Lance Briggs blast the organization after receiving a franchise tag.

“These situations aren’t isolated,” Angelo said. “Thereâll be other players with other situations. It just comes with being successful. I can’t say it any clearer than that. If you’re in this business, it’s probably more common practice to see that.

“I know on the outside it looks like we want to dismantle the team. It has nothing to do with that. We want to keep this the best possible football team that we can, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Passing the torch: After being dealt to the New York Jets Tuesday, Jones was asked about his successor.

“Cedric Benson has a lot of talent,” Jones said. “He’s a talented guy. (But) when you move into the featured role, there are a lot more responsibilities.

“Tim Spencer is a great running backs coach and I had a great relationship with him, not only as a coach but as a friend. He had so much advice for me to make me a better football player and I’m sure he’ll pass that same advice to Cedric.”

Jones rushed for 3,493 yards and 22 touchdowns in three years with the Bears after mustering just 1,891 yards and 12 TDs in his first four NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2000-02) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003).

“I had a great time in Chicago,†Jones said. “I want to thank Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith and the Bears organization for giving me the opportunity to come in there as a free agent. They definitely gave me a spark in my career.

“All of the guys who I played with in Chicago, we were all very close. We had a special season last year making it to the Super Bowl, and the fans in Chicago and the city of Chicago showed me so much support. It’s something I will never forget.”

Jones, who had one year remaining on a four-year contract, was traded in part because the Bears feel that Benson is ready to assume the featured back role.

“It wasn’t really a situation where I wanted to be traded,” Jones said. “It was a situation where I wanted to have an opportunity to do what I am capable of doing and that’s going somewhere and providing leadership like I did in Chicago.â€

Moving on: The Bears lost two reserve safeties Thursday as Todd Johnson signed a four-year contract with the St. Louis Rams and Cameron Worrell inked a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins. Both were unrestricted free agents.

Johnson, a 2003 fourth-round draft pick from Florida, registered 140 tackles on defense and 36 stops on special teams in 42 career games with 18 starts. This past season he recorded 34 tackles on defense and 10 on special teams.

Worrell, who originally joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent from Fresno State in 2003, tied Adrian Peterson for the team lead with 28 special-teams tackles this past season after missing the entire 2005 campaign with a shoulder injury.

Legal news: Cook County prosecutors reportedly will seek jail time for Tank Johnson. The Bears defensive tackle will be sentenced March 15 after pleading guilty to violating probation as a result of a misdemeanor weapons charge.

“He’s got a court date I believe on the 15th,” Angelo said. “We’ll just take that as the next step and we’ll go from there.”
8 years ago  |  Comments (0)
Bears not letting keep away happenBy: Larry Marry

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Expecting opponents to try to keep the ball out of Devin Hester’s hands, Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub knows that game-planning will require a touch of creativity in 2007.

“It’s going to change the whole way that we practice,” Toub said. “We’re going to spend half our time practicing squib kicks, bloop kicks, different type kicks. Other guys are going to have the ball in their hands. We’re going to design different returns for that.”

Hester became the first player in NFL history to return the opening kickoff in a Super Bowl for a touchdown, dashing 92 yards in the Bears’ 29-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Feb. 4 in Miami.

But that was Hester’s only kickoff return of the game. From that point on, Colts veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri kept the ball away from the dynamic rookie.

Vinatieri squibbed four kicks that were returned by other players and a fifth that went for a touchback. When the Bears countered by putting Rashied Davis near the goal line and moving Hester to the up-back position, Vinatieri kicked the ball deep to Davis, who returned it 15 yards to the Chicago 22.

Toub knows that it will be challenge to get Hester as many opportunities as he’d like and doesn’t want the second-round draft pick to press or try to do too much.

“He can only be in one position,” Toub said. “He can’t play all over the field. He’ll be back there. He’ll be the deep guy. We’re not going to change him that way. But we’ll try different things to try to get him the ball in different ways.”

Hester enjoyed a dream rookie season in 2006, setting an NFL record with six combined kick returns for touchdowns. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and was named first-team all-pro, the only rookie in the league to receive that honor.

Hester became the sixth player in NFL history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a game Dec. 11 in a Monday night win at St. Louis. In 2006, he broke team records for punt return yards and TDs in a season, and punt return and kickoff return yards in a game.

Toub isn’t concerned about Hester becoming too full of himself, not when he sees the former Miami star already working out at Halas Hall even though the Bears’ offseason conditioning program doesn’t officially begin until April 10.

“If he was going to read his press clippings, he would have done it last year,” Toub said. “But he kept a level head throughout the whole season and he’s already here working out. He knows that he hasn’t reached his potential yet, and that’s a good thing.”

Getting the ball in Hester’s hands isn’t the only challenge Toub will face in 2007. With running back Adrian Peterson moving up to the second spot on the depth chart following the trade of Thomas Jones to the New York Jets, Petersonâ€s role on special teams figures to be reduced.

This past season, Peterson ranked third on the Bears with 22 special teams tackles and forced two fumbles. He has recorded 75 special-teams tackles in five seasons since arriving in 2002 as a sixth-round draft pick from Georgia Southern.

“If I could still use him on kickoff and punt (coverage) where he’s going to be coming off the field right after, that would be advantageous for us," Toub said. "He’s a great cover guy. That’s his best asset. Obviously he’s not going to be a four-phase guy anymore.â€

Toub will also have to overcome the loss of free agents Cameron Worrell and Todd Johnson, who signed Thursday with the Dolphins and Rams, respectively. In 2006, Worrell tied Brendon Ayanbadejo for the team lead with 28 special-teams tackles, while Johnson recorded 10 stops.

Toub sees reserve safeties Tyler Everett and Brandon McGowan as potential replacements.

“Those are the first two guys that come to my mind,” Toub said. “Theyâre two young players who did a little bit on special teams so far. We think that the arrow’s up for those two guys. They’re going to have to step it up. We just have to adjust and get it done.”

8 years ago  |  Comments (0)
Bears Trading/Roster infoBy: Larry Mayer

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Bears have agreed in principle to trade running back Thomas Jones and their second-round draft pick (No. 63 overall) to the New York Jets in exchange for their second-round draft pick (No. 37 overall).

The deal is contingent on Jones agreeing to a contract extension and passing a physical with the Jets on Tuesday. The seven-year veteran rushed for 3,493 yards and 22 touchdowns on 850 carries in three seasons in Chicago. He currently has one year remaining on a four-year deal.

According to a chart used by NFL teams that assigns a numerical value to every pick in the draft, moving up 26 slots in the second round of the draft as the Bears are attempting to do is equivalent to gaining an additional low second-round or high third-round selection.

The trade is a sign that the Bears feel that Cedric Benson is ready to take over as the team’s No. 1 back. Sharing the workload with Jones in 2006, Benson showed flashes of what the Bears envisioned when they selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft out of Texas.

Benson emerged during the second half of the season, rushing for 432 of his 647 yards in the final seven games. He capped the regular season with the first 100-yard game of his career, gaining 109 yards on 13 carries in a Sunday night loss to the Green Bay Packers.


By: Larry Mayer again

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – While Lance Briggs told ESPN.com Sunday night that he no longer wants to play for the Bears, it certainly sounds like he remains in the team’s plans for the 2007 season.

The Bears placed a franchise tag on the linebacker, assuring him of a one-year contract worth $7.2 million, the average of the NFL’s five highest-paid players at his position.

Linebacker Lance Briggs was part of a Bears defense that ranked fifth in the NFL in total yards in 2006.
“We have his rights, so he’s on our football team,” general manager Jerry Angelo said Tuesday. “We feel that we’re treating him very good. That’s a lot of money he’s making on a one-year deal.

“The strain really comes to us in terms of our cap and what we have to do for a one-year deal. We have as much in terms of being concerned about this decision as the player, and I don’t want that to go unnoticed.â

Briggs told ESPN.com that he wants the Bears to remove the franchise tag or trade him. The 2003 third-round draft pick from Arizona stressed that he loves the coaches, players, city and fans but blasted the organization, complaining about a lack of respect.

“I don’t want to be there anymore,†said the two-time Pro Bowler. “I won’t play for them and I’ll do everything in my power from playing there.”

Briggs is upset that the Bears have not signed him to a long-term extension. But a year ago he turned down a lucrative multi-year deal that would have made him the second-highest paid player on the Chicago defense behind only Brian Urlacher.

After negotiations broke off, the Bears signed several other players to extensions.

“We did go to Lance in the spring to try to do a long-term deal,” Angelo said. “That was our intent as it has been with other players before their contracts expire.

“We gave it what we feel are our very best efforts. We thought we put a very good deal on the table. We also told (Briggs and agent Drew Rosenhaus) that the option of the franchise tag was there and they decided to pass the deal up and play it out. We certainly have to respect that. We also told them that we were going to move on.

"What’s moving on mean? Well, Olin Kreutz, Adrian Peterson, Ricky Manning Jr. and Hunter Hillenmeyer were in part beneficiaries of maybe not being able to do something with Lance. But our intent was to do Lance.

“Iâ€ve said that we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of doing something with Lance. But when we put the tag on him that was not our intent, and I want to make that real clear to (the media) as I did to him and his agent.”

Once Briggs signs the one-year tender, the NFL's new Collective Bargaining Agreement ensures that the $7.2 million is guaranteed. If he held out during the regular season, he would sacrifice 1/16 of the tender or about $450,000 for every game he missed.

From 2002-06, the franchise tag was used 42 times on 30 different players league-wide and not one of the franchised players missed a regular-season game check.

Only three of the 42 franchised players have been traded: cornerback Champ Bailey, defensive end John Abraham and wide receiver Peerless Price. NFL rules prohibit the Bears from actively seeking a trade, though they can listen to other teams that contact them to discuss a possible deal.

“Iâ€m not going to speculate on that because I’ve gotten no calls about a trade,” Angelo said. “Most of the time when you franchise a player, they don’t get traded. We will always listen to anything that we feel will be in our best interest. But when we did this it was with the intent for him to be a Bear this year.”


Cedric Benson is now the official backfield torch or Running Back.
oh yeah, that was by: Me
8 years ago  |  Comments (0)
Bears announce ticket price increaseMarch 2, 2007

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Bears announced that most ticket categories at Soldier Field will have a price increase for the 2007 season. Invoices to season ticket holders are scheduled to be mailed Friday.

Approximately 73 percent of all seats will have a $5 increase. The remaining non-club seats will have an increase of $8 or $9. Two of the three club seat categories will have an increase of $5 or $20, the third does not have an increase in 2007. The Bears non-club ticket prices now range between $65 to $104 dollars and account for approximately 85 percent of the seating at Soldier Field.

The Bears' 2007 home schedule includes match-ups against Dallas, the New York Giants, New Orleans, Denver, Kansas City and NFC North rivals Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota.

credits to chicagobears.com
8 years ago  |  Comments (0)
Bears roster good shape free agency hereBy: Larry Mayer

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – When the NFL’s free agency period begins Friday, some teams will undoubtedly pay large sums of money for players who ultimately will provide little return on the investment.

The Redskins are a prime example. A year ago they signed safety Adam Archuleta and receiver Antwaan Randle-El to six-year contracts worth a combined $57 million. Archuleta was eventually benched and Randle-El scored just four touchdowns for Washington, which finished in last place in the NFC East with a 5-11 record.

Ruben Brown was selected to the ninth Pro Bowl of his career in 2006.
The Bears, on the other hand, are in an enviable position. With only one starter from their Super Bowl team due to hit the open market—veteran left guard Ruben Brown—they have the luxury of dipping their foot in to test the water rather than being forced to jump blindly into the free agent pool.

“I don’t see us making a lot of noise,” general manager Jerry Angelo said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “When you’ve got it going, from our perspective, free agency really stays in-house. That’s what we’re trying to do.

“What we want to do and stay consistent with is rewarding our own. So whatever money you’re spending on the outside, that’s taking money from those players on the inside.”

A Bears team that reached the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years doesn’t have any glaring needs. But when there have been holes to plug in recent years, the organization has moved aggressively to fill them.

When injuries derailed the careers of young offensive linemen Marc Colombo, Rex Tucker and Mike Gandy, the Bears signed veteran free agents Brown, John Tait, Fred Miller and Roberto Garza. Angelo and the personnel department have also excelled in landing key skill-position players.

“When we’ve had to go out in free agency, I think we’ve done a pretty good job,” Angelo said. “Most of it has been due to injuries, and particularly on the offensive line.

“A couple years ago we felt we needed a ‘blue♠receiver, somebody who could give us a presence on the perimeter, and we brought (Muhsin) Muhammad in here. A couple of years ago we felt like we needed a different type of back and we went out and got Thomas Jones.

“When we really have had a need for something we’ve been able to act on it. (But) I don’t feel that’s necessarily the case this year.”

The Bears want Brown to return, but they have a backup plan and don’t view the offensive line as a need area.

“Terrence Metcalf has played here in the event Ruben doesn’t come back,” Angelo said. “We have him slotted in there and then we would stay the course with the other four. We do have a good backup in John St. Clair, who’s played both tackle positions and started at guard.

“We like (Anthony) Oakley, who can play center and both guards. He’s a good, young promising player. I think if we had to play him we’d be really happy with the results.

“Could we use another young developing player somewhere in that line? Probably. But I don’t necessarily look at it as a need. That would be a want. When we (signed free agent) John Tait, that was a need. That’s why we did what we did.”

As a player and team leader, Brown has been everything and more than the Bears expected when they signed him in 2004. He was voted to the ninth Pro Bowl of his career in 2006 and has been an influential presence in the locker room.

“I talk a lot about the leadership that we’ve gotten from our veterans and Ruben has been one of those guys,” said coach Lovie Smith. “He’s been super since he’s been here. We would definitely like for him to come back with us.”

There were some whispers about character issues during Brown’s final year with the Buffalo Bills in 2003, but Bears pro personnel director Bobby DePaul was a staunch supporter who vouched for the veteran guard.

“He’s been great for us,” Angelo said. “Iâ€ve got a lot of respect for Ruben. There were a lot of things said about Ruben and Ruben will tell you that. In our pro department, Bobby talked strongly about him and about his football character and, man, did we see that. We saw a lot of football character with this guy and what he did in terms of our locker room.

"I’ve got nothing but high marks and high regard for Ruben and certainly you don’t want to lose those types of players.â€

Other Bears who are slated to become unrestricted free agents Friday include defensive tackles Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone, safeties Todd Johnson and Cameron Worrell and wide receiver Justin Gage. Tight end Gabe Reid is due to become a restricted free agent.

The Bears don’t expect Scott or Boone to return for the 2007 season.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Angelo said. “Theyâre good football players. They’re defensive linemen. Usually that speaks for themselves. We’re planning on moving forward (without them).

“Really, with all of our UFA guys for the most part, the ones that had a lot of playing experience, we’d be naïve to think they’re not going to get some attention. We had a pretty good season. Our defense, for the most part, played pretty well and those players were a pretty big part of it.”

Angelo doesn’t see defensive tackle as a need, either, because the Bears have Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Dusty Dvoracek, Antonio Garay and Israel Idonije on the roster.

“On paper we have our allotment,❠Angelo said. “I like defensive linemen. If we could upgrade, then we’ll certainly look at that. But to say it’s a need, I can’t say that because Dvoracekâ€s healthy, Garay’s healthy, Johnsonâ€s healthy and Harris (will be) healthy.â€

The Bears appear more inclined to address their secondary, where veteran safety Mike Brown remains a question mark after sustaining a leg injury for the third straight season.

“It’s something that we’re talking about,” Angelo said. “Mikeâs rehabbing fine, but we have to protect ourselves given Mike’s injury history. On paper we have numbers, like defensive tackle, but maybe there’s a little bit more concern in the secondary
8 years ago  |  Comments (0)
Smith proud of what players accomplishedBy Larry Mayer

"MIAMI – Sunday’s bitter 29-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI will sting for a long time. But when Lovie Smith addressed his players after the game, he wanted them to realize just what they had accomplished this season.

'I told our team after the game how proud I was of them,' said the Bears coach. 'We talked about taking steps in our program. This was our third year. We took a big step this past year.

'We weren’t able to finish the job this year. But we’ll go back to work and next year hopefully we’ll be able to finish the job.'

The Bears won back-to-back division titles for the first time since they claimed five straight from 1984-88 and advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years.

'It’s not the way that we wanted to end,' said tight end Desmond Clark. 'You don’t ever want to be losers of the Super Bowl. But then again you can’t let that totally take away from the season that we had. We did have a great season this year. We just weren’t able to finish it off the way that we would have liked to.'

'We were in the Super Bowl,' said running back Thomas Jones. 'What more can you say? We didn’t win it, but we were there. Obviously we had a great year.'

A big lift: The Bears started off with a bang as Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and Chris Harris intercepted Peyton Manningâ€s pass intended for Marvin Harrison on Indianapolisâ first possession.

'Whenever you get off to a good start like that, with our defense we feel like we’re in pretty good shape,” Smith said. 'We had an eight-point lead there for a while. But we knew with their offense we would need to score more and they caught up with us.'

'Those were just plays early in the game,' Jones said. 'There were still three quarters left. Those were big plays, but we knew the game wasn’t over. You have to put four good quarters of football together and we didn’t do that.'

Hester became the first player in Super Bowl history to return the opening kickoff for a TD.

'It gave us a big lift right away,' Smith said. 'Whenever you start a game off like that it has to give you momentum. (But) we weren’t able to keep it throughout the game.'

Key moment: If there was one pivotal play in Super Bowl XLI, it may have been Kelvin Hayden’s 56-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Despite getting outplayed, the Bears trailed only 22-17 at the time. Hayden, who had entered the game in the second quarter when Nick Harper exited after aggravating his ankle injury, didn’t bite on a pump-fake and picked off Rex Grossmanâ€s fade pass to Muhsin Muhammad.

During an earlier span bridging the second and third quarters, the Colts ran 24 of 25 plays.

'The time of possession, especially in the first half, wasn’t good for our ballclub,” Smith said. “We made a little run there at the end, but the turnover really kind of did us in. A lot of that had to do with them. They had a great game plan coming in.'

Biting the hand: Ron Turner converted Hayden from wide receiver to cornerback when the Bears offensive coordinator was head coach at the University of Illinois.

'He’s a hell of a player,' Turner said of the Chicago native. 'He’s a very good athlete, a very good player. We knew that. We were just trying to run our offense, trying to make some plays and make some things happen, and he just made a hell of a play on it.'

Slippery when wet: While the Bears refused to use the inclement weather as an excuse, the steady rain that fell throughout Super Bowl XLI did cause problems handling the ball.

'It was hard,' said Jones, who rushed for 112 yards on 15 carries including a season-long 52-yard run that set up Grossmanâ€s 4-yard TD pass to Muhammad. 'The ball was wet and slick. The weather definitely was a factor in the game.'

Grossman fumbled two exchanges from center Olin Kreutz, losing one and recovering one.

'(The ball) wasn’t tough to handle once I got it from center,” Grossman said. “That was the only tough part about it. It would slide off my hands. Once I got a hold of it, I could throw it fine.'"
8 years ago  |  Comments (0)
Count On Losing The Superbowl
colts suck

go bears

8 years ago  |  Comments (2)
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