The Showcase of the Immortals.
The Fruit Stripe Gum Award for Biggest Disappointment goes to...
Chris Harris, S. Man, up until Jay Cutler's thumb injury sending the team on an excruciating death-slide, this had to be the most heart-breaking part of 2011 for me. Last year, Harris was the man, the most clutch of clutch players, and the secret reason for the Bears defense actually earning their big reputation for the first time in years. This year? He was injured, then he sucked, then he became a Detroit Lion, then he presumably kept sucking over there. And all of this lead to at least a week or so of the kind of godawful safety-reshuffling that he came in and put a stop to in 2010. So instead of having at least one spot locked down in a solid-ass way for the next three-to-five years, it's back to more trial-and-error with and endless string of rookies. From Mike Green to Todd Johnson to Brandon McGowan to Chris Harris to Adam Archuleta to Kevin Payne to Al Afalava to Chris Harris to Major Wright and it goes on and on and on, it's Heaven and Hell.
Honorable Mention: Gabe Carimi, OT.
Past Winner: 2010 - Devin Aromashodu, WR.
The Jerry Angelo Memorial Award for Biggest Stupid Waste of Money goes to...
(TIE) Roy Williams, WR and Brandon Meriweather, S. I had to make up a new award for these two guys, because I was going to just throw them up in a tie for biggest disappointment, but really, can you actually be disappointed by two guys whose failure was basically a sure thing from the start? Roy Williams hasn't been any good since 2006, and he really never was all that good before that. He was a disappointment in Detroit, a joke in Dallas, and not much more than an annoyance in Chicago. I know I've beaten that dead horse into an indistinguishable pile of horse-dust at this point, but for Christ's sake, the Bears had to pretend that he was a starter all year, putting him in on the first snap and then yanking as soon as possible, to keep their stupid, soon-to-be-gut-punched offensive coordinator happy. He was just a symptom of every Larger Issue, ever. As for Meriweather, anyone who knew anything could have told the front office that this guy wasn't going to work out. I mean sure, he did make two Pro Bowls, but then again, Deangelo Hall had just made one, so how much does that mean anymore? If they had just stopped and thought maybe the Patriots - an established winning team for like a decade now - might have had some reason for cutting the dude loose after watching him for four years and one full preseason, this could have all been avoided. But no, he got a few more million dollars, and the Bears got a shitty head-hunting safety who couldn't even hunt heads well. But he sure did provide big-name depth as the number five safety behind Winston Venable and Anthony Walters, I guess.
Honorable Mention: Chris Spencer, C/G.
Theoretical Past Winners: 2010 - (TIE) Brandon Manumaleuna, TE and Chester Taylor, RB. 2009 - Frank Omiyale, OT.
The George Blanda Award for Ex-Bear of the Year goes to...
Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers. So, you fancy yourself having a high-powered, fancy passing offense. Alright, so who are your receivers? A bunch of kick returners, Earl Bennett, a bunch of bullshit, and Roy Williams? Wait, so your top receiver is a running back who's also going to have to carry the ball twenty times a game? Ooh, not good. Oh, but don't forget, this is 2011 in the National Football League, and this is the Year of the Tight End. This shall be a full seventeen week festival of records being broken and games being won by the new breed of fast, athletic, sure-handed tight ends. And you've got one right there in Greg Olsen, primed and ready to take advantages of mismatched linebackers and cornerbacks a full foot shorter than he is. Wait, what's that? Your offensive coordinator who's already turned down a contract extension doesn't like tight ends, because they're not what he used in 1999? And you traded him to the Panthers? Ha ha, oh man, ha ha hahaha, that's a good one, ha ha ho ho, haha ha. Wait, you're serious, and that really happened? Fuck.
Honorable Mention: Mark Anderson, DE, New England Patriots
Past Winner: 2010 - Brandon Lloyd, WR, Denver Broncos.
The Brian Piccolo Memorial Award for Gritty, Hard-Working Fan Favorite of the Year goes to...
(TIE) Dane Sanzenbacher, WR and Tyler Clutts, FB. This was a banner year for the white man in Chicago. Not only did the team decide to continue their "eh, just throw whoever's cheap back there" policy at fullback with Aryan warrior Tyler Clutts, but they also grabbed a slow, shitty white wide receiver - the ultimate kind of football player in the eyes of the Chicago fan base - and even let him play in actual games this time. Sanzenbacher was the sensation of the first quarter of the season, with his habit of constantly dropping passes and not having a chance in hell of seeing any major playing time once Earl Bennett was back being completely ignored, as pork-fed Type 2 diabetics everywhere found their new Tom Waddle. Meanwhile, Clutts was possibly even worse than the bullshit fullbacks this team has had to endure over the last decade or so, (although oddly enough, the closest to an actual good one was Greg goddamned Olsen) and used his stunning accidental elusiveness to funnel defenders directly into Matt Forte and Marion Barber more often than not. Sometimes, you have to just look past "grit and determination" or whatever, and just use guys that are actually good at football, no matter how much it pisses the fans off.
Honorable Mention: Chris Conte, S.
Past Winner: 2010 - Patrick Mannelly, LS.
The Alonzo Spellman Rampage Award for Controversy, Off-the-Field Issue, or Other Distraction of the Year goes to...
Sam Hurd, WR/Drug Kingpin. Man, Sam Hurd being busted for huge amounts of cocaine was a thing no one could have ever seen coming, unless of course they had noticed that a buddy of his had been busted with $70 grand of Hurd's money in Hurd's car on the way to buy a huge amount of cocaine like a day before the stupid Bears signed him. So yeah, score another one for Mr. Angelo. I guess the craziest part is that he seemed like the least likely dude on the roster to be the NFL's answer to Nicky Barnes. The textbook backup wide receiver/special teams contributor, he was a completely unflashy dude without a huge criminal record or a diamond encrusted Rolls Royce or anything like that; just your typical "good teammate." And the dude was selling coke by the goddamn pound. On the other hand, he was a former Dallas Cowboy, so there you go.
Honorable Mention: Angelo refuses to negotiate with terrorists, Matt Forte spends breakout superstar season making close to the league minimum.
Past Winner: 2010 - Jay Cutler NFC Championship Mannerismgate.
The John Thierry Award for Defensive Least Valuable Player goes to...
Zackary Bowman, CB. Of all the stupid, no-brained goddamned nonsense. Look, Tim Jennings is a small dude, I get that. But he was solid as hell all year long in spite of all this, but stupid Lovie Smith benched him after he had one bad game. Even though he had to know that this guy was the next guy in line behind him, and even though he had just got done blowing several huge plays against the Broncos to help keep Tebowmania on life support for another few weeks. And he's awful, and aside from that one game he had a a rookie, he's always been awful. Oh yeah, he had a bunch of interceptions in '09, but when quarterbacks throw your way constantly because they know it's the safest bet on the field, eventually a receiver is going to have one ricochet off his hands and into yours. Law of averages. For goddamn real, it even got so bad that you could see Aaron Rodgers's eyes get huge and a half-smile show up on his horrible face every time he'd see Bowman lined up against Jordy Nelson or Donald Driver, and every time, he would stare his receiver down like a shitty high school freshman, all but shouting out to the defense, "HEY GUYS, I'M GONNA THROW IT OVER WHERE NUMBER THIRTY-FIVE IS! YOU KNOW, ZACKARY BOWMAN'S GUY!" But every time, the ball would be caught for a huge gain, because Zack Bowman is bullshit. But they just never have wanted to give up on the dude, and it would not shock me if he's the one back on the Bears next year instead of Jennings. Unbelievable.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Meriweather, S
Theoretical Past Winners: 2010 - Tommie Harris, DT, 2009 - Zackary Bowman, CB.
The Ron Turner's Playbook Memorial Award for Offensive Least Valuable Player goes to...
Caleb Hanie, QB. Oh man. You poor, poor bastard you. After an NFC championship game where people were to busy shitting all over Jay Cutler to notice that Hanie was kind of awful, this guy was poised for big things, at least in terms of finance. He was going to be a free agent in 2012, Mike Martz hated him, and the Bears weren't going to bring him back, and it was heavily rumored that some poor GM was seriously going to pay him starting QB money to hopefully be a starting QB someday. And then, Cutler went down, and Hanie had his Date with Destiny. And Destiny, she's a girl with high standards, so you better make damn sure you make a good first impression, because sometimes, there are no second dates, you know? But this guy, he took her on this date, man, and he ordered a cheeseburger at the fancy French restaurant. He spent the entire meal telling dead baby jokes and filling her in on every aspect of his Pokemon card collection, loudly announced at one point that "I gotta go take a piss," made her pay for the meal, and when dinner was over, he took her to the shitty dollar theater to see Saw, part 6. But even then at the end of the date when he had her drive him back to his mom's house, Destiny, she decided that she pitied him enough to give him one kiss before she left, because hell, it might be the only one he'd ever get you know? And when she did, the dude sneezed right into her mouth, blowing snot all over her face, sneezing so hard that he not only shat himself, but decided to let her know that this had happened, as though it was information she wanted. Of all the dates Destiny has had, no one has had a more utterly disastrous Date With Destiny than Caleb Hanie.
Honorable Mention: (TIE) Roy Williams, WR and J'Marcus Webb, OT.
Past Winner: 2010 - (TIE) The Doom of 2010, (Kreutz, Garza, Williams, Omiyale, Webb, etc.) OL.
NEXT TIME - THE GOOD.