We're Black and Blue All Over:
I guess everyone wants to make Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers eat crow now that the Chicago Bears are one step away from the Super Bowl. After all, it was Sayers who expressed serious doubts in May about the Bears' prospects in 2010.
Appearing this week on ESPN 1000, Sayers said he was "very surprised" about the Bears' season but stuck to his guns. "I told it like it was," he said.
I happen to agree. What Sayers said in May was perfectly justified and defensible at the time. He noted that quarterback Jay Cutler didn't do his job well in 2009, questioned linebacker Brian Urlacher's potential for elite play as he approached age 33 and doubted the Bears' depth at receiver and defensive back. A big part of the team's success this season has been the answers it produced at each question mark. But the questions themselves were fair.
Sayers offered a reasonable analysis at the time, one advanced by many others. Sayers' status as a former player didn't rob him of his right to free speech. The only mistake he made was forgetting that anything can happen in the NFL. Anything.
Continuing around the NFC North as the NFC Championship Game approaches:
Chicago is ready for this party, writes Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com.
Former NFL player Matt Bowen suggests the Green Bay Packers should focus their defense around stopping tight end Greg Olsen, notes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements harbors no ill feelings about the team blocking his opportunity to interview for the Bears' offensive coordinator job, writes David Haugh of the Tribune.
The Bears' disadvantage at quarterback in this game will prove the difference, writes Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel traces the advancement of Packers running back James Starks.
The Packers are loose and confident, writes Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette addresses the Packers' matchup with Bears punt returner Devin Hester.
Packers receivers would love to get teammate Donald Driver to a Super Bowl, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew is "the best complete tight end out there," according to someone who would know -- Hall of Famer Charlie Sanders. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press has more.
New Minnesota Vikings linebackers coach Mike Singletary says he will have coach Leslie Frazier's back, writes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The Vikings aren't expecting many changes with new defensive coordinator Fred Pagac, their former linebackers coach, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Bill Musgrave will have complete control over the Vikings offense, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.