We're Black and Blue All Over:
Brendon Ayanbadejo has received national attention for his stance on same-sex marriage and the New England Patriots, among other issues. Chicago Bears fans, of course, remember when he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection as one of their best special-teams players from 2005-07.
Ayanbadejo, now part of the Baltimore Ravens, told ESPN 1000 that he hoped to win Super Bowl XLVII in part to represent the Bears team that lost the big game in 2006.
"It's kind of funny, all my Bears boys, all the guys have been texting me and tweeting me, and I'm like, 'Man, I've got you guys, I've got this,'" Ayanbadejo said. "The whole 2006 team, you guys are in my heart, you guys are on my back, I'm going to go win this championship for you guys as well."
Ayanbadejo didn't get through the interview without offering one stark observation, making clear he didn't agree with the decision to fire coach Lovie Smith. He said, "I think Lovie Smith is the best coach of the Bears" and added: "I just don't see how you are going to be able to replace him with somebody who is going to be better."
Continuing around the NFC North:
Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com looks at the history of Bears coaches who replace popular predecessors, speaking to Vince Tobin about replacing defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan.
Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com looks at five areas the Bears can improve this offseason.
Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz put to rest rumors that he could change the team's defensive scheme. While coaching at the Senior Bowl, Schwartz told reporters the Lions will continue "predominantly" to run the "Wide 9," according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
The Senior Bowl should give the Lions' staff an advantage come draft time, writes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
Schwartz said that the departure of receivers coach Shawn Jefferson had nothing to do with issues involving receiver Titus Young, according to Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "I have complete confidence in our coaching staff."
Right guard Josh Sitton has become the leader of the Packers' offensive line, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Three construction firms have submitted bids to build the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, notes the Associated Press via 1500ESPN.com.
The Star Tribune reviews the Vikings' running back position.
Via the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun gives big-time credit to Baltimore Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie for solidifying the team's offensive line. McKinnie was the Vikings' No. 1 draft choice in 2002.