The Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day.
Being that today is St. Patrick’s Day, and Chicago is one of the few cities in this great nation of ours that really celebrates the occasion. Let’s take a fun look at how the St. Patrick’s Day traditions, Irish names, and the color green pertain to our Chicago Bears.
Green with Envy - Almost two weeks ago, the Bears won the free agency sweepstakes by signing three of the best players at their respected positions. Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna and running back Chester Taylor didn’t last long on the open market, both signing with the Bears on the first day of free agency. Other teams wanted the two offensive stars, but both felt Chicago was the team to be with and signed on the dotted line before any other team could attempt to woo them. Defensive end Julius Peppers, this year’s prize in the free agent market, shunned other potential suitors to come and play for the Bears. Teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and New England Patriots could not match the Bears dollar amount offer, head coach Lovie Smith’s persuasive ways, or the Bears rich tradition; thus Peppers is now a Bear.
Landing three top players that could help any NFL franchise, makes Chicago the envy of many other professional football teams.
Money - Greenbacks or the pot of gold, if you will. Lovie’s reputation and good manner, along with the mystique of the Chicago Bears may have played a role in the Bears acquiring three sought after players. But we all know that the all mighty dollar is what ultimately pushed the players to sign in the Windy City. Bears ownership gave General Manager Jerry Angelo an extra $25 million to go shopping with, and boy did he fill up the shopping cart. Manumaleuna, though he is a very good player and will fit in perfectly with the Bears’ offense, did not receive any offers on the open market as high as the Bears’. His five year $17 million contract was more than any other team was willing to pay a blocking tight end. Taylor received a four year $12.5 million contract, with $7 million guaranteed. A very rich contract for a running back that is 30 years old and is planning to split time with incumbent starter Matt Forte. Then there’s Peppers, he signed a six year, $91.5 million deal with $42 million guaranteed. Might I say, worth every penny. This has made Peppers the highest paid defensive player in the league and the most guaranteed money ever given to an NFL player. Though these numbers seem high, it actually breaks down pretty favorably for the Bears, as outlined by our very own Smudgers.
McCaskey – A very popular and traditional Irish name; Virginia McCaskey now runs the team that her father, George S. Halas, so proudly founded. Taking over the Bears in 1983 after her father passed away, Ms. McCaskey has had an up and down time as the owner of one of the most popular franchises in the NFL. She inherited a very good Bears team; who won a Super Bowl only two years after McCaskey took over the franchise reigns. The Bears losing ways in the 90’s prompted Virginia to take a hands-off approach as an owner and trust the team to her son, Michael. Michael McCaskey would be the team’s President from 1983-1999; he currently serves as chairman of the board.
Green receivers – No, our receivers are not descendants of the Incredible Hulk, but they are very young and inexperienced, in other words; green. Last year our unproven group of receivers showed promise and flashes even while learning on the job. Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Devin Aromashodu, Johnny Knox and Juaquin Iglesias have their work cut out for them as they learn new offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s complex offense. However, Martz has already expressed how excited he is to work with such a young and talented group of hungry receivers.
The receivers will also have a major hand in helping quarterback Jay Cutler return to his Pro Bowl form. With Hester being the eldest at 27, the average age of our receiving corps is 23 and a half; throw in pass catching tight end Greg Olsen, 25, and this unit has the potential to put up big numbers for years to come.
Dyeing the Chicago River green – One of the most unique and grand ways to celebrate the day honoring Saint Patrick, the city of Chicago dyes the river water running through the city green. As a way to trace illegal sewage discharges in the early 1960’s, city pollution-control workers would dye the river green. It was quickly realized that the dyeing of the river water would be a novel way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
In the nineteenth century, Catholic newcomers from Ireland turned March 17 into a day of Catholic, anti-British expression, particularly in Chicago. The city has forever since taken a likening to St. Patrick’s Day; having a very large Irish population in the city helps, too.
Green Beer – It’s beer. It’s good.
Happy St. Patrick's Day! Is it August yet?