Bears

Random News of the Day: Living in a Fantasy Land

Random News of the Day: Living in a Fantasy Land

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010
12:11 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

"Life is just a fantasy. Can you live this fantasy life?" Aldo Nova, "Fantasy"

There is no better way to start a fantasy football column than with a song lyric from a cheesy 80s rock song. Really, there isn't. Well hey, it was that, or I could have pulled a lyric from "What's Your Fantasy" by Ludacris. And even though the Ludacris song does mention the Georgia Dome and the 50-yard line, I doubt I'd be able to print anything else associated with that song without a pink slip lurking.

Can you live the fantasy football life? Millions across America seem to be able to do it just fine. In fact, if you're one of the many fantasy football fun junkies, the last few weeks in August are ones that are meticulously spent going over statistics, projections and predictions from blowhard analysts.

A fantasy football league has its own share of comedic relief. There are many, many personalities you will encounter from draft day to your league's championship game. Usually, a fantasy 'baller will fall into one of the following personality types:

Mr. Condescending: Show me a fantasy football player with a more irritating personality. I dare you. Every draft pick you make gets criticized. Your team name isn't good enough. You haven't been in the league long enough. You haven't won enough money. You always, apparently, "steal" his guy off the waiver wire or the draft board. He's the schmuck that TYPES IN ALL-CAPS and hits "reply all" on every fantasy football vote. A complete tool. It's not all doom and gloom, though. Because you know it's just a matter of time before Mr. Condescending smashes his TV screen on a last-second FG and has to walk around in a cast for the next 6-8 weeks.

The Mail-It-Inner: Sometimes you will hear the term "mailing it in" in conjunction with everyday life (jobs, politics...etc). I define it as "doing the least amount of work possible to get the job done, regardless of the ensuing public outcry and negative perception; the epitome of laziness." On draft day, the mail-it-inner sleeps through draft day and ends up with a team anchored by Alex Smith, Beanie Wells and Nate Burleson. The team name usually sounds like something out of a Gilmore Girls episode. The final record is around 2-12. The mail-it-inner is never heard from again.

Mr. Reactionary (AKA, Johnny Waiver Wire): Let's say that superstar running back "A" goes down with a leg injury. Before this poor guy's femur is picked up off the field by the trainer, Mr. Reactionary has already scooped up the backup RB on that team. Johnny Waiver Wire strikes again! A third nickname can also be given to this person: "Mr. Flash In The Pan". You know-- the type that notices some random tight end catch a few one-yard TDs one week. By the next week he's starting on Mr. Reactionary's roster. Of course, everyone but Mr. Reactionary knows that the flash in the pan will never see the end zone again.

The Three-Ring Binder: I'm actually friends with the original "Three-Ring Binder" guy. I used to work with him at another station in town. He now works as a sports producer in another midwestern city. At one of our live drafts, he came to the meeting with (you guessed it) a three-ring binder full of statistics and notes. We all laughed of course, but there's one thing you have to respect about the Three-Ring-Binder guy: attention to detail You'd be hard-pressed to find somebody of this nature finishing in the bottom half of your league. Note: the Three-Ring-Binder guy is not related to Mr. Reactionary because of the homework done by "TRB" on draft day.

The Girl: I shouldn't rip "The Girl" because, more often than not, she absolutely torments the league she's in. If her favorite color is red, she picks every Arizona Cardinals player on the board. After she gets laughed off the planet during draft day, you notice that by week five she's in first place...thanks to Larry Fitzgerald and company. She runs off with your money and makes you look like a fool in the process.

The 55-League Guy: This czar of Internet football pays very little attention to the league you're in because, apparently, he is just "flat-out bringing it" in one of the other leagues he is in. "Oh I'm not upset that I lost 135-27 last week in your league because the 200-three-keeper-AFC-four-wide-receiver-head-to-head-16-team-assists-on-tackles-get-two-points league I'm in is a gold mine!" The 55-league guy is the same dork that goes out to the bars, buys one light beer and toggles every one of his starting lineups on his phone for the next three hours. Even on a Tuesday night.

Fantasy Football Hero, 2003 (AKA, The Al Bundy Of Fantasy Football): This is the guy that everybody laughs at --not with-- on draft day. You can almost find out the exact point when this guy got engagedmarriedhad a kid based on his wildly inept draft selections. For instance, let's say the guy got married in 2003. His 2010 fantasy football team would look like one from 2003 because he spent the last seven years trapped within the walls of Linens 'n Things or stuck watching Grey's Anatomy with his significant other. His roster includes a starting nucleus of Jake Delhomme, Clinton Portis and Martin Gramatica. He also keeps asking, "Priest Holmest didn't get picked yet...did he?"

Also, let's not forget some honorable mentions: Mr. Outrageous Trade Offer Guy, Team Collusion (two players in the same league in cahoots with one another-- shady transactions...etc), Johnny Message Board Dominator, Mr. "We-Need-A-Rule-Change" Guy and The Player Who Forgets To Set His Lineup And Then Blames The Computer.

If you end up losing a game --or worse, a championship-- by a few points to either one of these guys, you're likely to give them what Nicky Santoro got at the end of "Casino". Of course if you win, all of these people don't matter, you host the year-end pizza party with a big smile on your face and you have some extra cash for the 4am bars. Such is life.

And such is fantasy football.

Or something like that.

Bears roster lacks veteran cut candidate

8-8jonbullard.jpg
USA Today

Bears roster lacks veteran cut candidate

The Bears battle for the 53-man roster doesn’t have many contentious positions entering training camp.

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy brought back largely the same roster from their breakout 2018 season, finding replacements for the few players gone in free agency.

Outside of kicker, the entire starting lineup is pretty much set for Week 1, and the main competitions to stick with the team are at the bottom of the depth chart.

It leaves the roster with no notable veterans that stand out as candidates to be cut. ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson was asked to name one for an article, and he couldn’t come up with any.

He mentioned Taquan Mizzell, who made the move from running back to wide receiver this offseason, but as Dickerson pointed out “Mizzell is hardly a well-known commodity around the league.”

Former third-round pick Jonathan Bullard hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but the Bears have seemed comfortable keeping him around in a backup role.

The Bears roster has very little fat to trim. The only other player who could potentially qualify is cornerback Sherrick McManis, since the team has so many young players at his position, but he’s been working at safety to increase his value, and he’s one of the team’s best special teams contributors.

The trim down from the 90-man roster shouldn’t have too many significant surprises, which is why so much of the attention this offseason continues to go to the kicker position.

Alex Bars is ready to take his shot with Harry Hiestand and the Bears

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USA Today

Alex Bars is ready to take his shot with Harry Hiestand and the Bears

Alex Bars was cleared to practice last week, allowing him his first chance to put on a helmet since tearing his ACL and MCL Sept. 29 while playing for Notre Dame. The undrafted guard was able to participate in veteran minicamp, allowing him to shake off some rust before his real push for a roster spot begins in training camp next month. 

Many speculated Bars would’ve been as high as a mid-round draft pick if not for that devastating knee injury. It didn’t take the 6-foot-6, 312 pound Bars long, though, to decide where he wanted to go after not being picked in April’s draft. Call it the Harry Hiestand effect. 

Bars played under Hiestand’s tutelage at Notre Dame from 2014-2017, and said he always wanted to wind up with the Bears to work with his former coach — just as 2018 top-10 picks Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey hoped to as well. 

“I remember talking about that, because they both wanted to play for him,” Bars said. “They understand where he can take you and how phenomenal a coach he is, so they both wanted that. And I’m just the same way.”

While Nelson transformed the Indianapolis Colts’ playoff-bound offensive line and McGlinchey showed plenty of promise with the San Francisco 49ers, the reunion of Bars and Hiestand carries some intriguing possibilities for the Bears. Bars has always had upside — he was a four-star recruit out of Nashville in 2014 — and getting to work with Hiestand may be the best way to tap into that potential. 

“He knows me very well, I understand his technique very well,” Bars said. “So having that connection, that player-coach connection all four years through college is huge.”

Hiestand called Bars after his injury last fall and offered some words of encouragement, which only furthered Bars' wish to play for his former college coach in the NFL. 

"That meant everything," Bars said. "He cares so much off the field as well as on the field. That’s who he is."  

Bars wasn’t able to participate in OTAs or rookie minicamp, but Hiestand doesn’t see that as putting him in a tough spot to make the Bears' 53-man roster. And there will very much be an opportunity for Bars to make a push during training camp, given 10-year veteran Ted Larsen only has $90,000 in guaranteed money on his one-year contract. 

It may not be the more eye-catching roster battle during training camp, but the Bears hope they can find interior offensive line depth through competition in Bourbonnais. And Bars, now cleared to practice, will get his shot. 

“He’ll have the chance because he’s smart, he understands the technique, he knows what to do,” Hiestand said during OTAs, when Bars hadn’t practiced yet. “He’s learning the offense even though he’s not doing it. But when we put the pads on that’s when you make or don’t make the team.” 

It’s often unfair — yet far too easy — to place high expectations on undrafted free agents. For every Cameron Meredith or Bryce Callahan who gets unearthed, there are dozens of anonymous players who struggle to stick on an NFL practice squad. 

But Bars is among the more important undrafted free agents on the Bears given his connection with Hiestand and the position he plays. While Kyle Long is healthy, he hasn’t played a full season since 2015, underscoring the Bears’ need for depth on the interior of their offensive line in the immediate future. 

And the Bears would save a little over $8 million against their 2020 cap if they were to make the difficult decision to cut Long in a year. If Bars develops into the kind of player plenty in the NFL thought he could be before his knee injury, that would make releasing Long a little easier to swallow at Halas Hall. 

For now, though, Bars is just hoping to make the Bears. Anything else is a long ways away.

“I’m excited to be here, thrilled for this opportunity and it’s all about productivity,” Bars said. “Just need to be productive and prove you belong on this team.”

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