BY DANNY SHERIDAN
Has there ever been an athlete in Chicago who had more ups and downs than Rex Grossman? You can look at Rex’s six years with the Bears in one of two ways; the Bears went 24-13 in games which Grossman started, and he did help them get to a Super Bowl in 2006.
Or you could look at it the other way, the way most people in Chicago tend to do when analyzing Grossman’s career; he threw 33 TDs compared to 35 INT, had a career completion percentage of only 54% and made Bears fans cringe every time he dropped back to pass.
With the team deciding not to bring him back for next year, it’s time to reflect on both the good and bad times from Rex’s stay in Chicago. Because we all know what a roller coaster ride it was.
10. New Year’s Eve vs. Packers
Even though the game meant absolutely nothing for the Bears, Rex raised some eyebrows the week after by saying he didn’t give 100% because he was distracted by it being New Year’s Eve. Give the guy some credit though. How many players in his position would have come out and admitted that right before the playoffs, and risk further alienating a fan base that had already been calling for Brian Griese since the middle of that season?
9. ’05 game vs. Falcons
I was in attendance for that mid-December game, and even though it was so cold you basically had to have been hammered to enjoy yourself, I do remember thinking one thing after that game; we finally have a quarterback. With rookie Kyle Orton struggling once again, Lovie finally called on Grossman, who had been injured during the preseason, to take over. The crowd went crazy while Rex played hero and helped lead the Bears to a victory.
8. Super Bowl media “meltdown” Apparently the heat and thrashing by the media finally got to Grossman when he referred to the media as ignorant in his press conference a few days before the Super Bowl. All Rex did was say what 99% of players have always felt, but it was still a surprise to see the mild-mannered Grossman lash out, even just a little bit. Obviously the pressure had gotten to him, and it showed days later during the game.
7. Injuries early in career
In ’04, just his second year in the league, Rex damaged his knee ligaments in the third game of the season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. The very next year, he broke his ankle during a preseason game, and missed the first 13 games of that season. A lot of guys might have never made it back from those two injuries so early in their career, so give Rex credit for getting back on the field quicker than most expected. It does make you wonder what might have happened had he been able to get valuable experience as a starter those first couple years.
6. ’06 NFC playoffs While Grossman didn’t exactly light the world on fire in wins against the Seahawks and Saints, the Bears did average 33 points for those two games. All the people who said a team with Grossman under center could never reach a Super Bowl, and there were plenty, had to eat their words.
5. Getting benched for Brian Griese
After three bad games to start the ’07 season, Rex was pulled in favor of Brian Griese, a move a lot of Bears fans had been calling for since the middle of the previous season. You don’t see very many times where a quarterback gets benched just three games after leading his team to a Super Bowl, but Lovie had no choice really. Rex would come back during the middle of the year after Griese got hurt and play pretty well. By then though, the organization had already given up on him.
4. Super Bowl performance Putting all the blame on Rex’s shoulders for this game is just wrong. The Bears couldn’t stop the run, couldn’t get any pressure on Peyton Manning, and were forced to try and come back in an absolute downpour. And Grossman’s stats (20-28, 165 yards) would have been good enough to win most games considering how good the Bears’ defense was back then. Still, his two fourth quarter interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown when the Bears were down only 22-17, were killers and ultimately decided the game.
3. First 5 games of the ’06 season Here were Grossman’s combined stats for those games; 10 TD, 3 INT, 62% completion percentage, 102 QB rating. Oh yeah, the Bears averaged 31 points during that stretch, and Grossman was named NFL Offensive Player of the Month for September, the first Bear to win the award since Neal Anderson in 1989. Unfortunately, Rex teased fans with his play early that season, because he was never close to the same quarterback from that point on.
2. Bad games from the ’06 season
Here were Grossman’s combined stats versus the Cardinals, Dolphins, Patriots, Vikings and Packers from that season; 1 TD, 16 INT, 34% completion percentage, 14.4 QB rating. Wow. I got to think that has to be the worst select five games of any quarterback in NFL history. Even with those ugly games, Grossman became the first Bears QB to start all 16 games in a season since Eric Kramer in 1995.
1. Dealing with criticism from fans/media When he found out he wouldn’t be back with the Bears, Grossman said, “some of my home games felt like away games.” The guy was even booed last August at Soldier Field Family Night. Because he was a first-round draft pick, and because the Bears had gone so long without a stable quarterback, Grossman’s inconsistency and high-risk high-reward approach never sat well with fans. Dealing with criticism from the fans and media comes with the territory of being an NFL quarterback, but the treatment he got here was way over-the-top.