Thanks to the hospitality of the Chicago Bears, I watched from the Press Box, as the Bears hosted the Cleveland Browns. It was a toasty Chicago September night, but I was cool and comfortable in the Press Box, along with being ready to cover the Bears for the first time.
I arrived three hours before kickoff. I love being in an empty stadium and watching it come alive. This was especially cool considering the view from the Press Box.
I also got to see the Press Box come alive, as familiar faces and voices from Chicago sports reporting arrived and took their places on Press Row. I reconnected with Les Grobstein, who I knew from covering the Chicago Rush, along with listening to him for most of my life. I also met WSCR's David Schuster, WBBM's Dave Kerner, ChicagoFootball.com's Hub Arkush and many others. It was pretty cool seeing them all in one spot, but it was even better to be one of them for this game. As my friend Chuck always says, "We're all professionals."
The Press Box itself is very nice. My seat was located in the second row. There were two or three rows deep, along with a large eating area and another area where the food was. It was one of the more comfortable Press Boxes I have experienced.
The Suite level was very nice, too. I peeked into a couple of the suites and was very impressed there, too. The Soldier Field staffers were extremely friendly and helpful. The views over the lake and south of Soldier Field were incredible. I love this city!
The Bears beat the Browns 24-0. David Fales, who figures to be the #3 Bears quarterback, went 14-18 for 131 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was an impressive performance, but it was also in a relatively meaningless fourth preseason game which featured mostly reserves fighting for roster spots. Fales did a nice job, but let's keep it all in perspective. Still, it is nice to see him show signs of potential.
Ka'Deem Carey gained 68 yards on 12 carries, while Jeremy Langford gained 55 yards on 9 carries. Of course, in the regular season, Matt Forte will shoulder the load, but again, it is good to see potential from the younger players.
The Bears went 5-11 last season. They brought in John Fox as their new coach. Not much is expected of the Bears this season. I have heard guesses ranging from 3 wins to 10 wins. Unlike a lot of Bears fans though, I find this exciting.
The Bears are definitely in a rebuild mode, but things can happen quickly. This is a chance to see the Bears build a winner. This is a chance to watch the Bears build towards sustained excellence. I don't see them patching things together for a quick fix. I see them wanting to be a contender every season. I accept that their play might be mediocre at times, but I see the future.
I hope the fans continue to support this team. Anyone can support them when they are in the playoffs. Stay on board now and enjoy the ride.
Finally, I'd like to mention that I talked to longtime Chicago sports reporter John "Moon" Mullin of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. I have also enjoyed his reports on WSCR. It was a pleasure to meet such a respected journalist. "Moon" could not have been any nice, too!
I look forward to covering more Bears games in the future. I appreciate the opportunity the Bears gave me and I thank them for everything.
John Mullin and me in Chicago, IL-September 2015.