Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was pretty bummed after the loss to… (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago…)
It was Dec. 5, a regular Wednesday at Halas Hall, and Brandon Marshall was at the podium talking about injuries. Devin Hester and Alshon Jeffery had missed the recent game against Seattle, while fellow receiver Earl Bennett had suffered a concussion in that game. Were the Bears healthy?
Marshall gave the answer all players give, one that amounts to: It's Week 14 in the NFL. Nobody's healthy.
Then he paused, and smiled slightly. "Maybe a kicker," he said, as reporters chuckled. "Maybe Robbie [Gould]."
A week later, when Marshall stepped to the podium, the kicker was on injured reserve. Calf injury, done for the season.
That's life in the NFL, and as the Bears prepare to host division-leading Green Bay, life is grim. Seriously, what the hell happened? Through eight games, this was the most imposing, balanced and athletic Bears team of my conscious sports fan life. Their road wins over Dallas, Jacksonville and Tennessee were masterpieces. They had the best quarterback and best receiver in franchise history. They were leading the league in takeaways with 28.
Six weeks later, they've been outscored 89-44 in four losses and lost starters to injury or poor performance at quarterback, receiver, linebacker, cornerback, safety, the offensive and defensive lines, and now, yes, kicker.
That's not to say all is lost. Far from it. But it's worth noting that the usually chipper Marshall came to his news conference Wednesday with a downtrodden Charlie Brown Christmas tree adorned with a single ornament.
"Our season looks like this tree right now," Marshall said. "Bare and just …" he paused, "ugly. But you know, there's still hope. As a kid, it doesn't matter how your Christmas tree looks. You're still waiting for Christmas Day. You have hopes and dreams that Santa's going to bring you those things you asked for. It's always a possibility, you know?
"And where we stand today, our goal is to win the NFC championship, beat the Green Bay Packers, win the Super Bowl." His eyes moved up the sad little tree, a smile still on his face. "All of that can still be under this Christmas tree."
Brandon, I think I speak for the city of Chicago when I say: May this be your best Christmas ever.
Special contributor Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye. Say hey @ReadJack.
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