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updated: 3/7/2012 5:47 AM

Vincent Jackson just what Bears need most

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It won't take long to find out if new Bears GM Phil Emery is working with Lovie Smith -- or for him.

The Bears' three biggest needs this off-season are receiver, receiver and receiver, followed by offensive tackle and tight end.

But if you asked Smith, he'd probably say defensive end, cornerback, safety, defensive tackle and linebacker.

So we may learn quickly about whether this is more partnership or dictatorship when NFL free agency begins Tuesday at 3 p.m. Chicago time, as Smith should be camped out on the doorstep of Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

If he had his choice, Smith might be having a late lunch at Mario Williams' house after the 27-year-old defensive end went untagged by the Texans on Monday.

You can't blame Smith for wanting Williams. Who wouldn't? The thought of Williams opposite Julius Peppers is enticing for all Bears personnel, but they've already invested $40 million in guaranteed money on Peppers and it will probably cost more than that to snag Williams.

That's a lot of money at one position when the Bears have ignored Jay Cutler's need for weapons and protection the last three years.

While Cutler has been running for his life and throwing to a ragtag group of receivers, Smith has insisted ad nauseam that the Bears' offensive line was just fine and their receivers as good as any in the league.

Of course, reality and Smith rarely find the same sentence, but Jackson is absolutely the best player available for the Bears' biggest need.

The Chargers decided not to tag the 29-year-old receiver Monday, and they still have time to settle on a long-term deal, but if they don't the Bears should be ready to pounce.

True, Jackson's had off-the-field problems, but the Bears are built to win now with an aging defense and a quarterback in his prime, and this is no time to search for choir boys.

Jackson is big (6-5, 230) and can go vertical, and the Bears need at least one -- if not two or three -- just like him. For anyone without an agenda, Jackson has to be the Bears' first order of business, but in Lake Forest it isn't always that way.

Ivan Boldirev-ing

If you've ever wondered what a morning skate looks like, the Blackhawks will stream online Friday's workout at 10:30 a.m., before the Hawks take on the Rangers that night.

There will be a multicamera view of the UC skate, players mic'd and interviews with Joel Quenneville and assorted players. Visit for more info.

Cubs curfew

It's admirable that new Cubs management wants the players to take their jobs seriously and get home at a decent hour at night in a city known for devouring its day-baseball team.

But they're not the first execs to say it, so if they find a way to enforce the new "code," they will be the first to succeed.


NFL Network had scheduled the 2009 NFC title game (Saints-Vikings) for 2 p.m. Monday, but after the bounty scandal broke over the weekend, the NFL switched to the '92 NFC title game (Cowboys-49ers), apparently not wanting viewers to get another look at the beating Brett Favre took from New Orleans.

NFL Network is an entertaining channel with great programming and journalists with integrity, but much like MLB Network, it's worth remembering at times like this that these channels are owned and operated by their respective leagues.

The good cause

K's for Kids Club, a not-for-profit corporation that takes underprivileged children to Cubs games, will hold its fourth annual fundraiser at The Ram Restaurant in Wheeling this Saturday at 5 p.m., complete with food, beverages, raffle prizes and sports memorabilia auctions.

The group was formed in honor of the late Tom Bujnowski, a teacher, coach and Cubs fan who began bringing "K" signs to the bleachers in May 1998, on the day Kerry Wood fanned 20.

Each year the group takes 40-50 needy children from a different organization in the Chicago area to a Cubs game.

For more info, visit

Opening Day

Lot of questions about who should start for the Cubs on Opening Day. The better question: What difference does it make?

The quote

Kobe Bryant on Dwyane Wade: "He didn't mean to (hurt anyone). He's not that kind of person. He's a nicer guy than I am, to be honest with you. He's just not the type of person who would do something like that."

Best headline "Ryan Braun feeling lucky enough to enter 2012 Tour de France."

And finally …

Omaha World-Herald's Brad Dickson: "Michael Jordan's Highland Park home is for sale for $29 million. It has 19 bathrooms. Something is wrong when your house has more restroom facilities than the team's arena that you own."

•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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