It has been 10 days since I first began showing symptoms of COVID and nine days since my first positive test. But I had been feeling better and more like myself since Monday. And yet, it wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon that I scored my first negative COVID test. I’m free and in the clear. Maybe it’ll take a few days to be fully operational. Or perhaps I’ll be back at full capacity today. But the last 10 days have put so much in perspective. Not the least of which is that COVID is still out there, which should be reason enough to drive home the importance of taking care of ourselves and exercising caution when necessary.
I don’t want to re-live the last 10 days. And I don’t want any of you to experience it either. Wouldn’t wish that mental and physical anguish on anyone — even my least favorite Packers fans.
• Happy NFL Schedule Release Day! Kudos to the NFL for making putting events into your calendar a full-on thing. It takes some real gumption to make an event out of announcing when your league’s events will take place. But I’m kinda into it. So long as I stay in good health and things stay cool nationally, I imagine fans of all 32 teams will be hashing out travel plans to se their favorite teams. And I hope to be among them once the schedule fully rolls out. In the meantime, the leaks are coming:
The Packers Schedule is Already Leaking — Bears in Week 2 on SNF? https://t.co/lzvC0q5xdv
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) May 12, 2022
• Death. Taxes. And Bears-Packers in primetime in Green Bay. Those are life’s three guarantees for NFL fans. It sure would be nice if the league were kind enough to give the Bears a crumb one of these years. Maybe the powers that be in the scheduling department are waiting for Chicago’s football team to get its new stadium in suburban Arlington Heights. But by the time that building gets the green light to open its doors, the schedule-making committee will have been replaced by a soulless algorithm. Hopefully, the algorithms in 2027 will know better than to push advertisements for something I’ve already bought. At least, that’s the dream.
• We already know whom the Bears will play and where the teams will square off. And yet, we have so many other questions regarding the schedule layout. How many primetime games are on the docket? The Bears played at least *TWO* primetime games in each year of the 2010s, and have begun the 2020s with *FOUR* primetime games in each of the last two seasons. The Bears are a draw, to be sure. Even when they’re riding the struggle bus, this team gets eyes to television sets. And that matters for this league. But I can’t imagine the NFL wanting this iteration of Chicago football to get too much overexposure. So I don’t expect the Bears having more than one more prime affair other than the Green Bay tilt.
• Would you prefer get what projects to be an early season slate that projects for a fast start with games against the Lions, Texans, Giants, and Jets early? That’s the kind of thing that could build up some steam and confidence. But on the other hand, losing to any of those teams in the early going would be a gut punch to the soul. Or would your preference be to see potentially fun schedule stuff? Imagine the warm-weather Dolphins coming to town in December. That would be narrative gold. Or even the Bills, for that matter. After tailgating Brian Urlacher’s Hall of Fame induction with Bills fans in canton, I would welcome a winter-time tailgate party with those folks. Get the tables!
• The Bears schedule sure leaves reason to be optimistic if things unfold as projections forecast:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) April 1, 2022
• You know what would help the Bears’ make the most out of what looks like to be a favorable schedule? Some more receiver help. I’ll say this for GM Ryan Poles, he looks to be assembling a competitive group. It’s not flashy. And it sure isn’t “good” just yet. But if you believe in the “steel sharpens steel” idiom, then Chicago bringing in post-hype sleepers like Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe should pique your interest. At minimum, those receiver battles should make camp a bit more interesting.
• Pettis tweeting his signing while wearing a Kanye West College Dropout era shirt (h/t Zack Pearson) makes him a man after my own heart:
• Dan Wiederer (Tribune) has an idea as to how to make the NFL schedule release more fun. That Bears schedule sure does have potential to raise some eyebrows with well-paced matchups. A late-season shootout between Mac Jones and Justin Fields could be a treat. Scheduling the Giants and Jets for back-to-back weeks in New York could make for an in-season team-building experience. How about the Falcons going into the bye? OK, maybe that would make just *ME* happy. But a road game in Atlanta, followed by a trip to see family and friends in the Peach State, and a trip to Magic City to give the world-famous wings a taste test would check so many boxes for me.
• I’m torn about the potential of the Bears playing on Thanksgiving again. On the one hand, I have a fun tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends who are locals on Wednesday nights when Chicago’s favorite team plays on Thanksgiving. But on the other hand, maybe I want a traditional Thanksgiving this year? This is what happens when I don’t know what I want.
• Best wishes to Robyn Wilkey, a long-time Bears assistant who worked under a who’s who of current (and former) Bears coaches and general managers and is set to retire:
Robyn Wilkey – long-time asst for former Bears GMs Jerry Angelo, Phil Emery and HCs John Fox, Matt Nagy, Matt Eberflus – is retiring this week after 25 years with the team. Wilkey has been considered so vital to so many with the Bears; now she is ready for life’s next chapter.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 12, 2022
• The only thing weirder than a college dude’s eating habits are the quirks possessed by the general managers who pick them in the NFL Draft:
Commanders rookie QB Sam Howell says he only eats chicken.
He's never tried a burger or a steak and won't eat seafood. He orders chicken tenders at steakhouses and brings his own tenders to team dinners.
— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) May 11, 2022
• I hope the Blackhawks have better luck in Wisconsin than the Bears have in recent years:
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) May 11, 2022
• After spending the last few months obsessing over draft-able prospects for the Bears, it’s Eli’s turn to do so for the Bulls:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 11, 2022
• The Cubs’ minor-league affiliate in Tennessee served up a no-no combo platter last night:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 12, 2022