Thoughts and observations from Bourbonnais

August 10th, 2008 - 9:46 am

I made the 2-hour trek down south to Bourbonnais Saturday night to watch the Bears practice, and, I have to admit, while I appreciate the opportunity to watch them in person and get a good feel for what they’re doing, I don’t anticipate going again this year, and maybe not next year.

I missed last year’s training camp but I was in attendance two summers ago in the team’s lead-up to their Super Bowl season. The biggest difference I have to report is the overall feeling toward Rex Grossman. In 2006′s training camp, Grossman was still revered. Maybe not in the same sense as a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but he was still given respect by the majority of Bears fans. The year before that, Grossman missed most of the season with his second straight severe injury, only to return at halftime of the Atlanta Falcons game, taking over for an ineffective Kyle Orton, and receiving a standing ovation from the Soldier Field crowd. Grossman had a statistically shaky performance against Carolina in the playoffs, but what I remember from the game was that he led the offense on three touchdown drives, something Orton didn’t do all season that year.

This year’s training camp is a different story. There seems to be a larger contingent of supporters for Orton than there are for Grossman, and not because they believe Orton is the answer to the never-ending quarterback question, but simply because Orton is not Grossman.

After every off-the-mark Grossman pass Saturday night, there was some snippy fan — usually dozens at a time — who had something nasty to shout at Grossman. Conversely, when Orton made some bad throws at the feet of his receivers, there were no such negative remarks made. Heck, even Caleb Hanie, a guy who will never be a starting quarterback in the NFL unless he’s thrust into the role due to injury, received more rave reviews from the fans in attendance.

As I wrote in a previous blog entry, I don’t care which quarterback starts because neither one will make or break the Bears’ season. I don’t have a problem with Orton; I just know Grossman has a better NFL arm and can make the necessary NFL throws. He just needs to improve his decision making and the consistency of his mechanics.

No, this isn’t about me sticking up for Grossman, this has more to do with me wondering about the collective IQ of Bear Nation.

I wonder if the guy in the bleachers who shouted “Now there’s our starting quarterback” when Hanie made a nice completion Saturday night was actually being serious or if he was just being a smart ass.

I wonder about the level of intelligence from the two guys sitting in front of me who were pouting about the Bears not acquiring Chad Pennington, even though I expressed my opinion why it was not a good idea, and then were asking each other who the Dolphins quarterbacks were. One of them thought Daunte Culpepper was still on the team, which hasn’t been the case since 2006.

I wonder about the fan just a few spots down from me who was trying to explain things to his wife, and when she asked him who No. 21 was, he told her Nathan Vasher (That would be No. 31, buddy. No. 21 is Corey Graham). Then, I also wonder about that man’s wife, who, just a few minutes later, sees Devin Hester returning punts during the special teams period and asks, “Who’s number 23?”

I have no doubts that sports fans as a whole are smart people. But I just feel that this is one of those situations where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and individual fans can have — let’s just say unusual opinions sometimes.