Bears

View from the Moon: Talks off, but far from over

View from the Moon: Talks off, but far from over

Friday, March 11, 2011
Posted 5:07 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Wake me when its over.

That was the reaction of one football fan I suspect more than one - early Friday as time ticked away on the second extension for negotiations between the leagues owners and players. In the end, the sands ran out and darkness settled over the land.

So unfortunately, its not over. And probably wont be for awhile.

The NFLPA demanded disclosure of financials by a deadline this afternoon. NFL owners didnt comply. The union decertified, renouncing its union status with a terse simple statement:

The NFL Players Association announced today it has informed the NFL, NFL clubs and other necessary parties that it has renounced its status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the players of the National Football League. The NFLPA will move forward as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players.

So the talks are broken off, pretty much as expected by many despite whiffs of optimism. As Bears President Ted Phillips suggested Friday, an agreement will be worked out at some point.

But that point isnt here yet. In a prepared statement at the end of Fridays talks in Washington, D.C., federal mediator George Cohen was closed things down officially:

During this extensive period a wide variety of issues, both economic and work-related, were addressed in a professional, thoughtful manner consistent with what one would expect can take place in a constructive, corrective bargaining setting. Those differences were explored at length. Consensus emerged in a number of them and in others, differences were narrowed and focused.

Regrettably, however, the parties have not achieved an overall agreement nor have they been able to resolve at this time strongly held competing views that separate them on core issues.

In these circumstances, after reviewing all of the events that have transpired, it is the considered opinion of yours trulythat no constructive purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue mediation at this time.

Now the matter moves from mediation to litigation. The point for the union, such as it is now, is to file an antitrust action in court, which would be expected ultimately to require some disclosure of financials. How much information is problematic, because owners do not want Congress or courts taking actions that could shake the foundations of the sport structure as it now exists, including the exclusivity on incoming players that teams enjoy through the draft

The expectation now becomes that little will really happen until sometime this summer, possibly even September based on some comments. The union did decertify in 1989 and eventually the result was the institution of free agency beginning in 1993.

The players are saying now that theyre not a union. Appeals will be coming. Best guess is that things will slog along with painful slowness until matters approach the precipice beyond which money starts being lost by one or both sides.

And as more than a few fans have said, Wake me when its over.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

10-20codyparkey.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”