When the idea first came to me about putting together a Ten Best Posts article, I was bursting with questions (excitement, too). I wondered if anyone would care; after all, you didn’t write them. And that question made me wonder if the idea was nothing more than an exercise in self-indulgence.
There was another problem, too: what constitutes “best?” Are the posts with 15 comments inherently better than those with none? I thought that they were not, but readers sure seemed to think they were at least relevant at the time. And that counts for something I guess.
Also, if I was going to go through with the idea, I wanted to focus on the 10 Best Posts of 2011, setting the stage in case I wanted this to be an annual thing. My calendar argued with this thought by telling me that I was nearly a third of the way through 2012 already. But, better late than never . . . right?
Finally, questions all in mind, I decided to just sit down, sift through the posts, and let them decide. If I could even come up with more than 10 possible candidates without feeling like I was forcing it, I would do it. I came up with 35.
But, in that moment of reflection, I also decided that in order to balance the scales of arrogance with humility, I would also include the Five Worst Posts of 2011. Yes, that should do nicely. If you can’t laugh at yourself from time to time, then you have no business patting yourself on the back either. So, here they are, readers. I do hope you enjoy:
Ten Best Chicago Bears Huddle Posts of 2011
#10: Cutler Controversy: Players and fans question Jay's toughness | Adam Oestmann, January 23, 2011
This one just barely squeezed in. But, as I read it, I thought that its structure did a nice job of transporting me back to that night one simple sentence at a time, and I remembered almost everything about the incident that would haunt Jay Cutler the entire offseason and into his 2011 campaign. Looking back on it now, it’s hard to dispute: that moment, and subsequent aftermath, was a huge turning point for Jay Cutler the player, the leader.
#9: Talking with a Chicago Bears legend | Bob Warja, August 16, 2011
Bob no longer writes for Chicago Bears Huddle, but many of his posts rank among my favorites. Last August, Bob got the opportunity to sit down with former Bears’ linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus. In Bob’s beautifully easy way of writing, he makes you feel as if you’re the one sitting there, talking with an old friend, while transcribing gut-wrenching quotes like this: "I was next to a girl, a young little thing, but when she talked she had a deep masculine voice and I told her, ‘you used steroids, didn't you?’ And she said that, yes, she did."
#8: Jerry Angelo: a complete Draft history | Darren Doxey, December 28, 2011
Sometimes functionality beats out form. In this case, Darren’s post was perfectly timed and executed. I often found myself turning to it as an Angelo resource in the days to come, and I admired Darren’s commitment to put in the work necessary to get a post like this one done. Not only must it have been tedious and time consuming, but he went the extra mile to give fans at least a snippet of his patented snark by commenting on each draft choice. Kudos!
#7: What if Mike Vick was white? Really, ESPN?! | Adam Oestmann, August 25, 2011
Short. Sweet. Opinionated. It was a typical blog rant through and through. It sparked conversation and argument, but most of all, it was the kind of thing that bloggers do day in and day out: react. When I first saw the illustrated photo from ESPN the Magazine, I was mortified. And when I read the article, I was taken aback at the arrogance and futility—at least as I perceived them. The question I kept coming back to was why? Just why?
#6: Screw offensive balance, somebody GET OPEN! | Darren Doxey, September 26, 2011
The post started with this: “Dear Chicago Bears’ coaches/front office: do you really think your fans are this stupid?” That was all I needed to put me on the verge of hysterics. But then Darren wrote: “Okay, well maybe some of them are” and then I lost it. We’ve been criticized at Chicago Bears Huddle for veering away from being fan blog at times and trying too hard to be a newspaper. That criticism falls squarely on my shoulders, I admit. And one of the main reasons I asked Darren to start Chicago Bears Huddle with me after we both left Fanball (actually Fanball tanked, we didn’t leave), was because I knew he would keep the blog on track and keep it . . . well, real. This post is perfection.
#5: For Bears fans in the UK, the International Series means so much more than jet-lag | Adam Oestmann, October 24, 2011
I’m in a good mood, so I’ll be extra honest . . . I stole this idea. I saw a fellow blogger—I honestly cannot remember who—asking if he/she could interview a Bears fan in the UK for the upcoming International Series and thought, what a great idea. So, I went on my own reconnaissance mission, ultimately enlisting Martin Macpherson, who answered my questions under the death grip of a mighty hangover the day following the London game. I was expecting a (stereo) typical, “Oh yeah, we bloody love American football here across the pond.” (How incredibly asinine of me.) What I got was a beautiful story from a fantastic guy who I stay in contact with still today. This post didn’t make it to #5 by any work of my own; it simply fell into my lap and wrote itself. Plus, it made me smile. Thanks, Martin!
#4: Jay Cutler's road fighting diabetes and playing quarterback in the NFL | Adam Oestmann, February 12, 2011
Like its neighbor above, this post earned its spot not because it was well written or even timely. It earned its place at #4 because of what happened after I wrote it. Only two people commented on the article, but a total of six emailed me personally. Each and every one of them came from either a person with Type-1 Diabetes or the parent of one. And each one came with a thank you for writing the post the way I did. I’ve received emails about articles before, but usually they’re far less kind. The eight people who chose to thank me and share their stories make this post so much more relevant than the one I did about dirty Packers jokes that got read hundreds of thousands of times. Thank you for that.
#3: Chris Harris decides to block Twitter followers instead of the Detroit Lions | Darren Doxey, October 12, 2011
Here’s why I love this post so much: Darren almost didn’t publish it . . . but then he did. Calling out a player in a blog post that he’ll probably read, considering his deep concern with what fans are saying about him, can cause apprehension. But we’re not in business to massage player’s egos. We’re here to give it to fans straight. Darren did that, I think. Plus, the metaphors were hilarious.
#2: Reviewing "Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton" | Adam Oestmann, November 8, 2011
Jeff Pearlman annoys me; he knows this. I find him to be hyper critical and hypocritically intolerant (although he preaches liberal values and tolerance all the time). Honestly, I just think he’s a crabby old man (he’s only ten years my senior so . . . maybe not so old). When his Walter Payton biography first came out, however, I struggled with the harsh criticism it received from Chicago Bears fans. I thought Pearlman had a right to write the book, and I thought if he had discovered infidelities, he had a responsibility to be transparent and include them. But, I also thought that he had to approach it all in an impartial manner. As for the critics, I thought they had the right to shut up if they hadn’t read the book (the loudest detractors hadn’t even done that). And, since I hadn’t personally read the book, I chose to abstain from the conversation until . . . I had.
So, I did. While I didn’t find the book all that impartial, I ultimately didn’t care. Why? Because I thought Pearlman’s own love for Walter Payton shone through more than anything else. The book was filled with stories of Walter’s unending kindness and speckled with the demons he so often struggled with. I laughed and cried often. When I was finished it was then and only then that I offered my opinion on the controversial book. If you’re still mulling over whether or not to read it, or whether or not you’re angry at Pearlman for writing it, read my review and then decide.
#1: Chicago's biggest doctor's appointment | Jarrett Payton, January 24, 2011
It was my birthday, actually. I hadn’t much checked my twitter timeline that day, and it was late when I finally decided to do so. One of the first things I saw was a tweet from Jarrett Payton (the son of the late, great Walter Payton) in which he said that he had something to say but needed somewhere to say it. I, of course, found that very intriguing. I emailed Jarrett and asked him what was up. A few minutes later we were on the phone together, and he told me he had written something about the Jay Cutler controversy following the NFC Championship game he just had to get off his chest. I was happy to oblige. We talked briefly about his dad, which I personally found surreal, and he ultimately said he’d let me have the story.
The post was brilliant and spread like wildfire across the internet once published. It was talked about on local sports talk radio and featured on ESPN Chicago. But Chicago Bears Huddle had it first. Within minutes, it became the most read post on ChicagoNow and by morning—the post was published at 9:00 p.m.—it had been read nearly 10,000 times. It was read thousands more in the following days. I asked Jarrett to come write for us part time, which I really think he considered, but . . . well, we’re still working on that!
Well then . . . on to the crappy ones! I figured if I had found just as many bad posts as good ones, we would probably be in serious trouble. But, I didn’t. So, I adjusted the amount included in this section. Here, friends, are the five worst posts of 2011.
The Five Worst Chicago Bears Huddle Posts of 2011
#5: Could the Bears be entertaining the idea of trading Jay Cutler? | Adam Oestmann, April 17, 2011
Ever since the moment Mike Shanahan was hired on as the Washington Redskins head coach, the idea that they could try to make a move to steal Jay Cutler from the Bears didn’t seem all that farfetched to me. Cutler hadn’t, as of yet, produced at the level Chicago thought he would after giving up a bounty (no pun intended) to nab him from Denver, and the Redskins . . . well, they do crazy things sometimes. Like, for example, trading the sixth overall pick in 2012, the team's first-round pick in 2013 and 2014, as well as their second-round pick in 2012, all to move up four places in this year’s Draft and sang Robert Griffin III. Oh, God, I’m still defending this post. Sorry. Look, the reason this post made the bad list is because I knew it, and you knew it, Jay Cutler wasn’t going anywhere. So why even try to stir the pot with nonsense?
#4: How the (@#$!) does ESPN rank Eli Manning over Jay Cutler? | Adam Oestmann, April 27, 2011
Man . . . I’m starting to feel like I’m going to defend every bad post here. Oh well. When I wrote this article, ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert read it and agreed with me. And while I still think the article makes valid points, Eli Manning must have read it, too; as he led the Giants to yet another Super Bowl win, and earned himself a second Super Bowl MVP. The guy is as clutch as it comes in the playoffs, and that’s when it really counts. Jay Cutler is NOT, I repeat, NOT on Eli Manning’s level. Although I still believe in his potential to get there with the right pieces around him.
#3: Brett Favre's sister arrested in meth raid | Adam Oestmann, January 12, 2011
I admit it, I wrote this for page views and page views alone. It worked really well, too. While something happened to the numbers (they no longer show up) it was shared on facebook over 200 times. Yes, I’m a page view whore.
#2: Jerry Angelo’s "hard-ass" approach puts Bears’ success in jeopardy | Adam Oestmann, August 1, 2011
Ah yes . . . the Olin Kreutz rant. I was so blatantly wrong on this one that I have no other choice but to shut-up and admit it. Here’s a snipet: “Anyone and everyone who thinks that this move is a positive for the Bears is seriously underestimating just how much an offensive line needs time together, and just how much they need leadership and direction. No single player could have provided that better than Olin Kreutz.” I was wrong. They were better off without him, and Darren called it from the start: “Say what you want about Bear great Olin Kreutz, but let’s face the facts: He’s been bad for three years now. It was time for him to not be the starting center for the Chicago Bears anymore. Garza is an upgrade.” You win this round, Darren.
#1: Check yoself! Caleb Hanie will be fine | Darren Doxey, November 30, 2011
Really, Darren . . . need I say more? But in all honesty, we all thought the very same thing (I know I did). But this time, and only this time dammit, Mike Martz was right.
That’s it for 2011. I hope you enjoyed both! There is one more thing I feel I need to mention, though. Chicago Bears Huddle is made up of four writers in total: myself, Darren Doxey, Rob Zielinski, and Dominique Blanton. So, for me, the elephant in the room is the fact that exactly zero of Rob or Dom’s posts are listed here. But there’s a reason for that. Darren and I have been at this thing from the start, you see, and I have written a total of 411 articles here, Darren has written 85, Dom 29, and Rob 18. That means approximately 91% of the articles to choose from were either mine or Darren’s.
Also, while I didn’t exclude any article from consideration, you can usually find Rob’s work in the post-game section and Dom’s in the pre-game/Draft section, figuratively. And while the Xs and Os posts are incredibly crucial, they don’t tend to push the boundaries and elicit the response as a column or simple rant does. Believe me, those two guys know how I feel about what their talents and knowledge bring to this site’s credibility. I need them to keep Chicago Bears Huddle growing in the right direction. No doubt about it!