Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On the Beat with Mike Tomczak

The last time Mike Tomczak and I were on a football field together was in 1980 at Gately Stadium on Chicago's south side.  Tomczak was the senior quarterback at Thornton Fractional North, where he was coached by his father.  Tomczak, who was named the Illinois High School Player of the Year, went on to lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles.
He also had an excellent pro career, starting out as an undrafted rookie on the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears.  He would become the last active member of that team after piling up over 16,000 passing yards over his 15 seasons.
Back to Gately, though.
While Tomczak was a star, his opponent that day was Mount Carmel, (my high school).  We had our own star, too.  Tony Furjanic was an elite linebacker who also went on to star at Notre Dame and had a three year NFL career.
This was a much-anticipated matchup of two great teams and of two great players.  The MC home crowd was vicious to Tomczak, riding him the entire game and MC emerged victorious.
When the game ended, the MC crowd rushed the field to celebrate with the team.  I walked right by Tomczak, who had tears in his eyes.  I saw how much he wanted this game.
Fast forward 32 years and I again found myself on the same field as Tomczak.  He is the Offensive Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League.  Once again, Tomczak found himself on the losing end, as the Rush prevailed 45-14.
I approached Tomczak and wanted to talk a bit about that high school game.  I am sure he would remember the game (although certainly not me).  Unfortunately, he was rushed for time, but he did quickly give us his thoughts on coaching and his return visit to Chicago.
I truly enjoy interviewing people, but talking to Tomczak was especially cool for me.  As I walked to him, I kept having flashes of that game back in 1980.  Who would ever have thought we would meet again on a field like this?
As always, I thank the Chicago Rush and Director of Media and Public Relations Mike McLaughlin for the opportunity.  I encourage everyone to go to and like the Rush on Facebook and follow the Rush on twitter.  The next Rush home game is Saturday, May 4, against the Philadelphia Soul.

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