Bulls

Frankie O: Who are you?

Frankie O: Who are you?

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
2:55 PM

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

As Bears fans bask in the glow of Sundays domination of the Eagles, instead of giving me a ton of grief, they give me a ton and all ask the same question: What do I think of the Bears now? I dont believe that its because a bartenders opinion is going to seal the deal, but rather part of a larger quest. Besides the burning desire to learn oneself, there is always that need to define others. When it concerns the local heroes, this is always taken to a new level. The essence of any sports discussion, or in the bar read: argument, is the ability to clearly and accurately describe what we have witnessed and how it will affect the future. People want to know. Who am I? Or who I am? Those are two completely different questions! This was forever etched in our sports consciousness after one of the most famous melt-downs ever, the Dennis Green The Bears are who we thought they were! rant after a Monday night game in which his team had a melt-down and handed the Bears the game. While us fans found what he said, and especially how he said it, to be hysterical, it brought to the fore the questions that keep my bar lively.

This couldnt be more true than in the discussions of this years Bears. The two biggest faces, Jay and Lovie, and the team itself have been analyzed over and over. (Analyze This!) Ill start with Jay. After his heroes welcome upon his trade here, no one has endured more scorn since he began playing. Throwing an average of two picks a game will do that. But also its the demeanor thing. The public has a perception of how it wants its star quarterback to look, feel and PLAY like. Cutler so far, obviously, has been all over the road in his play. The thing that loses him support is that when discussing his play, he looks completely disinterested to the point of boredom. Doesnt he realize how serious this is? Why do you think Derek Anderson is taking so much heat for being caught smiling and laughing on the sideline Monday night while his team was getting hammered? For fans its just as important that you carry yourself as a winner as it is winning, well when youre losing anyway, if you win, do whatever you want. ALL is forgiven with winning. That the Bears are winning now, and hes playing very well, has brought some understanding or should I say acceptance to his personality quirks. He also earned points with his rant towards the officials, for sticking up for his teammates. Funny, not too long ago the same act would have been vilified around here not too long ago for him once again being petulant. This is the same Cutler, just one who seems to be figuring out his third offense in three years, and one who for the first time in his career is playing on a team with a defense that can make a difference.

Lovie is a fun one to discuss now. I havent felt the overwhelming support for him yet, and I find that a little puzzling. Heres a guy that was given a second chance in fans eyes. I did not come across a single person at the bar last year that thought that he should have been retained as coach. (Nor Jerry Angelo as G.M. for that matter.) That he has taken this opportunity and run with it is all to his credit. Defensive play is what he is known for and the defense is playing great. Being a leader that can right the ship is just as important, and his influence over the offense to change when it was needed cant be denied. But once again it gets to the perception thing. During the awfulness of the last three years, his even-keel demeanor, lack of anger and say nothing coach-speak made him the number one target of fans discussing what was wrong with the team. Some even considered him to have an above-it-all arrogance. Well now, during the good times, he has the perception of a calm cool leader. It cracks me up that as maddening as I sometimes found his behavior, especially during the last two years, to be, that he is EXACTLY the same right guy right now. How funny is that? How funny is it that I think that right now, he should be considered the coach of the year in the NFL?

So who are the Bears? I think that right now, they are one of the best teams in football. The win on Sunday made that statement for all to see. But as Jerry Glanville once pointed out, NFL stands for: Not for long! Anything can change in an instant. Thats why I found it very telling when discussing the aftermath of the game, everyone on the team said its all about next week and moving forward. Basking in the glow in this league will get you beat in a hurry and turn you into yesterdays news. (Or LAST weeks Sports Illustrated cover!) This team being focused on that is a good thing. They have a five game opportunity in front of them and its going to be fun to see how they respond. They are playing at a level that will let them play for a while and thats the point. For as I have reminded everyone who wanted to give me the needle for Sundays outcome, winning games in November only gives you a chance, winning games in January and February are what we all will remember, and tell us all we need to know. (Analyze That!) (Get it? A sequel reference. A sequel!)

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

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USA TODAY

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

John Franklin III may be a longshot to make the Bears, but the former ‘Last Chance U’ star isn’t giving up on his dream

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USA Today Sports Images

John Franklin III may be a longshot to make the Bears, but the former ‘Last Chance U’ star isn’t giving up on his dream

Down in Bourbonnais, one of the handful of players who stuck around the longest to sign autographs for fans after training camp practices was the starting quarterback and hopeful savior of a franchise that’s been mired at the bottom of its division for years. 

Another was a fourth-string cornerback who had never played that position before May and has an extremely difficult path to make it in the NFL. 

“Most of the time I’m out here with Mitch (Trubisky), like the last person,” John Franklin III said. “I’d rather have people know me than people not know me. So that’s a good thing.”

You might know Franklin as the super-talented Florida State quarterback transfer in Season One of “Last Chance U” on Netflix. A low point of Franklin’s life played out in living rooms across the world as he played sporadically behind Wyatt Roberts at East Mississippi Community College, but the south Florida native turned that strife into a lesson in persistence. 

From East Mississippi Community College, Franklin transferred to Auburn, where he stayed as a quarterback but didn’t see the field much. He graduated from Auburn and transferred to play his final year of college ball at Florida Atlantic, where Lane Kiffin gave him a shot at playing wide receiver. He didn’t put up the kind of production as either a quarterback or a receiver to get drafted, but his excellent speed is a trait that got him into rookie minicamp. 

After failing to secure a gig with the Seattle Seahawks at their rookie minicamp, the Bears brought Franklin to Halas Hall as a defensive back for a tryout a week later. He signed shortly after, and here he is, trying to figure out how to make it in the NFL at a position he’s never played on a side of the ball he was completely unfamiliar with until May. 

“People are so quick to quit when it doesn’t work the first time,” Franklin said. “It’s like, if you really give up and it didn’t work, then you really didn’t want it. If you keep pushing, it’s going to happen. Life’s not going to be peaches and cream, but you get what you get.”

Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell couldn’t recall ever seeing a player make the switch from offense to cornerback without any prior defensive experience before, let alone for a rookie battling to make a roster. 

“It doesn’t come up that much and usually they have some kind of training in there,” Donatell said. “Nothing comes to mind. 

“But why not us? Why can’t we?”

This isn’t a story about a player who is likely to important to the Bears’ success in 2018, like Trubisky or Allen Robinson or Leonard Floyd or Kyle Fuller. The odds are massively stacked against Franklin, especially after he was picked on by Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate in last week’s preseason game (he did, too, have a nice break-up of a pass intended for Ka’Raun White). The stuff Franklin is learning right now are second nature to most NFL cornerbacks who’ve played the position — or at least, played on defense — their entire football lives. 

“I definitely feel like I was in good position most of the night, I just gotta — I know one thing I’m focusing on is getting my head around,” Franklin said. “That’s one thing that I still haven’t felt 100 percent comfortable with and that’s one of the things a lot of the vets are working with me on is to make sure I get my head around because most of the time I’m in a good position. Just finding the ball is still very new to me.” 

Training camp and preseason practices, then, present a difficult dichotomy for Franklin. On one hand, he knows he has to be patient as he learns an entirely new job that he likened to “trying to write with your non-dominant hand.” On the other hand, he has to show considerable progress to even be considered for a spot on a practice squad, let alone a 53-man roster. 

While Franklin has seen himself make significant progress on tape over the last few months and weeks, he knows he’s not where he needs to be or where he thinks he can be. It’s sort of a race against time for him, because rookies who don’t make a roster or practice squad usually don’t get a second chance in the league. 

“He’s such a willing soul,” Donatell said. “He came in here, he’s taking everything in, the veterans are helping him. But he has a skillset that you can see him doing things on the other side of the football that we want to translate to defense. … It’s a race for us right now and a race through this month, and he’s willing. We see progress every day. Time will tell how much.”

What Franklin puts on tape in these final three preseason games — Saturday against the Denver Broncos, Aug. 25 against the Kansas City Chiefs and Aug. 30 against the Buffalo Bills — will be critically important to his chances of sticking in some capacity in the NFL when the regular season starts.

Taking a step back, the task seems almost impossible. This is a guy who played quarterback his whole life, then moonlighted as a receiver for a year, and now is trying to make it in the NFL playing cornerback. It would be a remarkable feat if Franklin were to make a practice squad and allow himself more weeks and months to develop. 

But there’s no doubting Franklin’s desire to make it work. He wants to make it work to live out his dream of playing in the NFL, one he’s had since he was four. He wants to make it work to repay his parents for all they did for him. He wants to make it work to be an inspiration to others to never give up on their goals. 

Will it work? We’ll see. But it’s not in Franklin’s nature to give up, no matter how much of a longshot he may be. 

“I’m accepting the challenge,” Franklin said. “Doing something different at the highest level of football ain’t easy by any means.

“But it’s also doable and possible.”