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posted: 7/16/2013 5:30 AM

Despite troubles, Zorich still did a lot of good

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  • Chris Zorich agreed to Mike North's challenge of a 100-yard race. North said he could beat Zorich, but he proved to be wrong.

      Chris Zorich agreed to Mike North's challenge of a 100-yard race. North said he could beat Zorich, but he proved to be wrong.
    Photo courtesy of Mike North

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Inside

I opened up the newspaper the other day and read that former Bears player Chris Zorich was getting probation and 200 hours of community service for failing to file tax returns from 2006-2009 and has to pay back approximately $350,000 for unaccounted funds.

The now financially strapped Zorich hopefully will be able to move on with his life and realizes he was lucky because he could have been sentenced to 10-16 months in prison.

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The government called it not just an oversight but neglected responsibility. The court was lenient, and I'm glad.

I consider Chris a friend, and I still consider him one of the most remarkably unselfish and charitable athletes I've ever met.

He was really just one of us, but also a young man who basically willed himself to become a viable member of the National Football League through hard work.

Now there is no doubt something went wrong, and he has paid with his reputation and sentencing.

But I will say this, no athlete I've seen in this town has done more for families in need or a person in trouble than Zorich.

Chris also was there whenever I asked. I remember racing him 100 yards down a side street near the radio station when I told him I could beat him in a race. He won.

He also did some charity work helping with the yearly bowl-a-ramas we planned as fundraisers. When we needed him on radio he always was there.

My wife, Be-Be, and I have given to plenty of charities over the years, and, honestly, writing a check was easier for me and didn't require a lot of effort.

But Chris convinced me back in the early 1990s to help him deliver turkeys on Thanksgiving.

Be-Be and I will never forget the look on the faces of the family as we came up the stairs delivering bags and boxes loaded with Thanksgiving meal. The mother and her children helped us bring the groceries into the home, but the father stared at me while sitting on the couch.

He didn't help us, but I knew why, and I understood: His pride was hurt knowing he couldn't provide for his family, but he still said a quiet "thank you" as we left.

We never forgot that day or the fact that Chris Zorich made sure a lot of people had good Thanksgivings.

During his prime, when most athletes care only about themselves, he was ringing a bell for the Salvation Army.

I haven't talked to Chris for a while, but I plan on reaching out to him. He's a friend, and hopefully Chicago people will be there for him as he was for many!

Programming note:

Watch me on "Mancow" on WPWR Channel 50 at 6:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday

•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.

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