From Derrick Rose's Poohdini to Brian Urlacher's barbed wire to Dennis Rodman's ... entire upper body, Chicago athletes have shown a taste for tattoos. The Bears are no different, and while Urlacher's barbed wire bicep may be the best known body art among current Bears, he is barely adorned compared with many of his teammates.
Among these are Gabe Carimi and D.J. Moore, who share a passion for images, meaning and ink. RedEye sat down with both players at their homes earlier this season and got the stories behind their tattoos.
FEATURING: Star of David + stone sledge hammers
WHEN: Junior year in college
CHAIR TIME: Four sessions that each lasted four hours
What's the story behind your tattoos?
I've always thought that I would get a tattoo if I had a good idea and eventually pulled the trigger on it. I really liked the design idea I had in my head. It had religious meaning, family meaning and yeah, I just really like it. It's a stone Star of David, and then crossing through it are two stone hammers. They're basically wrapped with leather on each end. I like gray styling—I'm not into color—and on each hammer, it has the Hebrew word "shleimut" and "emunah." [The former means "integrity" and the latter "faith."]
What did your rabbi say when you said you were getting a tattoo, and not just a tattoo but a tattoo of something from Judaism?
He was OK with it. But I'm from a reform synagogue, so there's plenty of stuff like—now you can get buried in tattoos and just remove it beforehand. So it's not that big of a deal to me.
Was that something you took into account?
It was, just because of the whole Holocaust tattoo thing. Numbers. So, a lot of bad blood with it, but I thought it was for the right reason.
For you, what was that reason?
My parents have always taught me to have a, you know, a good set of faith. And to always be honest and truthful.
What did your family think?
My mom thought, to the day of the tattoo, she was going to talk me out of it. She was like, "You're really going through with it?" … My dad basically told her, "Look, you're lucky your son's even involving you in the process. Most kids wouldn't." It took three stencils because it's so big, and I was glad she was there because she could help align it and make sure it was symmetrical on my back.
Has the tattoo led to any conversations with teammates about the meaning?
Yeah, sometimes people ask about it. My main answer is that it's "strength" and "religion." The hammers represent strength, going through religion. And then the words on the hammer each represent a part of my core beliefs.
Honestly, I forget about it because it's on my back. And most people wouldn't think I have a tattoo, because even if I have a tank top on, people don't see it. But I'm glad I got it, in general, and I think it looks pretty cool, and it's meaningful to me.
FEATURING: Tattoos mentioning his mother
WHEN: First tattoo, sophomore year of high school; most recent tattoo, July 2011
CHAIR TIME: At least several hours for most tattoos
What's the story behind your tattoos?
I got this "D.J." here first. I remember that because I was at the house. After I got this one I didn't want to get no more. It hurt so bad.
Did you tell your mom first?
I don't even remember. We was at the house. I don't know if my mom was there or not, but I don't think she minded.
I had some praying hands right here, but then I got the tree, a little family tree I put over it, so it's pretty much a family tree. The tattoo guy that does all my tattoos, he kind of blow everything up. You tell him a tree, and he turn it into a, you know, a whole forest.
Then I got my mom's name over here, and I got it done over probably three times. The first time, it was some guy—I shouldn't have let him do it. He was out of it. I had a woman when I was training in Florida, she did it, and then the guy that do all mine now, he re-did it over.
What'd your mom say when you came back with that?
Oh, she liked it. [Starts pointing to other tattoos] You know, I got "Mama's Boy," "World's Greatest Mom." So she likes it. She always say, "Let me see my arm" or whatnot.
So the first one was at age 16 or 17. What's your most recent tattoo?
Most recent was [when] my brother got killed, what was that? About a year ago. So it's just him, a man walking up to heaven. I think that's probably the most recent one. That and my wife's name. So it's probably kind of simultaneously.
Do you have kids?
One on the way. Due in February.
And is there going to be a kid tattoo [Moore's wife is expecting their first child in February]?
Yeah, I might get something. I want to get her name, but I know I'll get all my kids' pictures of their faces on my back. I've got everything else pretty much filled up, so I just left my back open for the kids. I don't know, my wife's face maybe. Put her face with the kids' faces. Something like that. It's just gonna be pretty much family, though.