Mike Brown Tribute
Maybe somewhat lost behind everyone's disappointment in Cedric Benson on Sunday is the season ending knee injury of safety and team leader Mike Brown. For all we know, Brown has played his last game in a Bears uniform. It's sad to see a homegrown pro bowler, and all around good guy, like Brown end his days in Chicago this way, but there's no way the Bears can continue to rely on a guy who has been injured the last four seasons and has missed 43 of the last 64 games.
For whatever reason, Brown has fallen on hard luck as much as anyone in sports the last few years. The unfortunate thing is that when he's healthy, the Bears are a different team. Look no further then late last season, when, with Brown out of the lineup, the Bears defense couldn't stop the run to save their souls.
It's shame for a guy who always seems to be working hard to rehabilitate his latest injury. As soon as he gets back on the field, more back luck ensues. It wasn't so much bad luck this year as it was a cheap shot, from Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal, which will cost Brown the season.
Of course, it always has to happen when he's playing well, too. Like in 2004, Lovie Smith's first year, when Brown returned a fumble coast-to-coast for a touchdown to beat the Packers in Lambeau Field. Even Sunday, his interception set up the only Bears points of the day.
If this is it for Brown in Chicago, I'd like to remember his glory days instead of those riding the bench with a caste on. Like in 2001, when, in back-to-back weeks, Mike Brown made two the defining plays in recent Bears history. If you remember back to 2001, that's the year the Bears went 13-3 with offensive stalwarts such as Jim Miller, Anthony Thomas, and Marty Booker. Everyone maintains to this day that that Bears team wasn't any good, they were lucky, but man we're they fun to watch. There was never a boring game in 2001 for a team that lost only it's opener versus Baltimore and both games against the Packers. For all the crazy stuff that happened that season, Brown's highlight plays standout the most. The first one was against San Francisco. In overtime, TO went over the middle, only to suffer from a bad case of alligator arms when he saw Urlacher charging toward him. The ball bounced off Owens' hands and landed in Browns', where he returned the ball for a touchdown and a Bears win. The following week in Cleveland might have been the craziest game I've ever seen. Down by 14 with hardly anytime left, backup quarterback Shane Mathews engineered a touchdown drive, and the Bears somehow recovered the ensuing onside kick. As time expired, Mathews lofted a 40-yard Hail Mary towards the end zone, where it was batted down only to land in a diving James Allen's arms to force overtime. In overtime, Brown did it again, intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown and a Bears win.
Those two plays is what I'll always remember Brown for. When he was on the field, he was the true leader of the team, even more so then Urlacher. It's a shame to see him go out like this, but he's one the truly great post-Super Bowl XX Bears and that's how he should be remembered.