My latest Chicago Tribune column focuses on the media component in being a head coach in the NFL. The Bears beat reporters hardly have been blessed with quote machines with the team’s recent coaches.
You can access the full column at my Twitter feed at @Sherman_Report.
An excerpt from the column:
Peggy Kusinski made a conscious decision during the end of the Lovie Smith era. Unless the Bears coach said something particularly newsworthy — a rarity — she wasn’t going to air soundbites from him during WMAQ-5 newscasts.
The policy carried over to much of Marc Trestman’s two years.
“They never said anything,” Kusinski said. “We only used Trestman (at the end) to point out the strangeness of his press conferences.”
Jeff Dickerson, who covers the Bears for WMVP-AM 1000, also laments that recent Bears coaches hardly were quote machines.
“Speaking to (the coach) almost became an afterthought,” he said.
While Bears fans gleefully would take 10 Bill Belichicks, who says nothing to the media but wins Super Bowls, the press contingent at Halas Hall wouldn’t mind if the new coach knows how to string together a few bright quotes. Please.
It has been a long, tedious slog since Mike Ditka, the Babe Ruth of soundbites, left the Bears in 1992. His press sessions were must-listen events, elevating levels of outrageousness.
“He took it to outer space,” the Tribune’s Brad Biggs said. “That’s the problem for the coaches who came after him.”
Ditka’s successors, especially Dick Jauron, Smith and Trestman, often were as interesting as listening to paint dry.
“Very bland,” Kusinski said flatly.
The stark contrasts to Ditka always were unfair. Who wouldn’t pale in comparison? However, there’s a feeling the coaches could have done more to resonate with Bears fans.
Smith, in particular, was cited for being excessively guarded and occasionally defiant in dealing with the media. Biggs believes Chicago didn’t get to know the real Smith.
“If you got him one on one, he was very different than what you saw at the podium,” Biggs said. “He’d go, ‘OK, what do you have for me?’ He was much more engaging.”