Before Sunday evening's New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers game, the pregame show ran down various playoff scenarios. It included the teams already in, the wild-card participants, and then it got a bit murky with teams still in the hunt.
There they were, under the "in the hunt" category: the Chicago Bears.
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Yes, things sure have changed since I once wrote the Bears looked like they were on their way to the playoffs. At the time, I had the Bears playing the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game. And I also wrote that Lovie Smith should get an extension because he was solid head coach.
Of course, the Bears were 7-1 then. Now, with only two games left and an 8-6 record, they are on the outside looking in. Having lost five of their last six games, the Bears need to win the last two to make the playoffs and hope some other teams lose.
I didn't expect it to play out this way. I also thought this would be the year Jay Cutler stepped into the elite category and carried the team to the championship game.
Now it no longer looks good for Lovie and his guys. The Bears are playground bullies -- they beat up the weak and when the schedule got tough they were exposed.
Yes, things have changed big time in the last few weeks, and in the Bears' world, change wasn't for the better.
Sports distraction not enough
I thought the world of sports handled the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., in a classy and appropriate way. The NBA and the NFL had respectful moments of silence and reflection. I think I can speak for most when I say the weekend was met with anguish and disbelief.
While sports is normally an escape for many of us, I can only say that for this weekend, sports wasn't really able to ease the pain we felt for those people, but it was a distraction at times.
My mind, though, kept wandering back -- it was tough not to think of all the families and their suffering and wonder how something like this nightmare could have happened.
Two of my buddies have books out right now.
The first guy is former Blackhawks star Jeremy Roenick, a good friend for over 20 years. His bio -- "J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey" -- is pretty straight up and there are plenty of stories that chronicle Roenick's career on and off the ice.
Roenick is one of the top five most popular Hawks of all time. His blue-collar demeanor and terrific play gave him star status and made him a fan favorite in Chicago.
Another friend, Don Beebe, former wide receiver and six-time Super Bowl participant, has a book called "Six Rings." Imagine going from a construction worker to a Super Bowl champ. It's a great read, and it has been an even better year for Beebe, who took Aurora Christian High School to another Class 3A state championship in football.
Congrats to both guys.
Look for me on Mancow's show at 6 a.m. Friday and Monday on Ch. 50 WPWR-TV.
• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.