The American Football Kicking Hall of Fame, which includes the likes of Kevin Butler, Lou Groza, Jan Stenerud and Jim Thorpe, has added friend and former colleague Fred Mitchell with its class of 2013.
Fred was the nations top collegiate kicker during his career at Wittenberg University, which welcomed him into its Hall of Fame in 1995. Fred set the NCAA college division kick-scoring mark and the Fred Mitchell Award was established to honor the nations top collegiate placekicker from among its 750 FCS, Division II, III, NAIA and NJCAA football programs.
We met in 1992 when Fred was covering the Bears for the Tribune and yes, he did in fact keep an old square-toe kicking shoe (hes old school) in the trunk of his car. (And yes, Fred has issues hes a kicker, after all.)
He said one of the best parts of this honor, which was presented at the Legends Club just across the street from Augusta National, was being able to share the news with his 82-year-old high school coach and thank him for getting Freds kicking career started.
It was great to see Fred and wife Kim on Thursday night at the 25th Comcast March of Dimes Awards. Im really, really pleased for Fred, one of the very good guys and a pros pro as well.
Oh, and the Kick it, Mitch in the headline? Fred told me that was the standard directive from his Wittenberg coach. And if this award and others are any indication, he did that very, very well.
Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents.
That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?
The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room).
So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure.
Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return.
“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”
If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length.
Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16
Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game?
Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.
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