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Thursday, May 6, 2010
Gale Sayers is no Fran Tarkenton

By Kevin Seifert

I'm a little late to this party, but maybe it's because I've never understood the ruckus resonating from Gale Sayers' recent comments about the state of Chicago's franchise. From what I've seen of his banquet speech in Omaha, Neb., the "criticism" was reasonable and in most cases defensible.

Here's the key quote based on The Associated Press' account:

"Cutler hasn't done the job. [Linebacker Brian] Urlacher, I don't know how good he's going to be coming back. He's 33 years old. They need a couple wide receivers, a couple defensive backs. They haven't done a good job. If Lovie [Smith] doesn't do it this year, I think he's gone. He had a good team the Super Bowl year. Nothing came together for him the last couple years."

Contrast that statement to those we heard last year from former Minnesota quarterback Fran Tarkenton, who came off as a bit crazed and mostly out of touch in criticizing the Vikings' pursuit of quarterback Brett Favre. Among other things, Tarkenton proved to be about 25 years late on the realization that NFL players don't have the same loyalties to their original teams as players of his generation did.

In Sayers' case, I'm sure the Bears would prefer not to have a Hall of Fame alumnus pointing out their potential pitfalls in public. But let's look at what Sayers said on face value:
(I even agreed with what Sayers said about silly comparisons between him and New Orleans running back Reggie Bush: "You can't compare that, because he gets hurt too much. He's a fine young man. He's a little light. He's not a player who's going to carry 25 times a game. He'll get five carries, catch three passes and run back a couple punts.")

I wouldn't blame the Bears if they are stung by Sayers' comments. He is a big part of their history and someone I'm sure they would prefer to be promoting the team rather than questioning its direction. But as they say, sometimes the truth hurts.