Monday, February 7, 2011

Political drool over athletes a bit much?

DENT: A Hall of Famer
A part of me always wants to flinch whenever I see an event where some sort of government official (or an aspiring official, in the case of mayoral hopeful Gery Chico) tries to gain attention to himself by using a professional athlete.

The ballplayer usually winds up looking bored and antsy to be somewhere else, while the government geek truly lives up to the latter part of that particular euphemism.

WHICH IS WHY I must admit to feeling a bit of a let-down this past weekend watching Chico try to feed off of the football fandom that exists in this city – making appearances with, and touting the accomplishments of, a pair of former Bears.

I’m sure that some will argue that using Super Bowl weekend is perfect timing for using football players to tout his campaign. But I can’t help but think all Chico did was remind Bears fans that their team wasn’t playing on Sunday at the Super Bowl held in suburban Dallas.

Of course, if the Bears had been playing, I’m sure Chico would have been doing whatever he could to be part of the scene in Arlington, Texas. Maybe even trying to squeeze into a shot or two with Barack Obama – who had said he would show up in Texas IF the Bears had beat the Green Bay Packers to qualify for the NFL championship game.

Instead, we got the Saturday sight of Chico appearing at Manny’s Deli, one of those stops that every political person feels the need to make when they’re campaigning for higher office. He brought Steve McMichael with him, along with apologies that Dan Hampton couldn’t make it.

“MONGO” AND THE “Danimal” would have been quite a pairing whose presence would have completely dwarfed Chico, had they showed up.

As it was, McMichael’s comments sound less-than-sincere.
McMICHAEL: A Chico backer?

“If Gery Chico was an ’85 Bear, I would have wanted him on my side blitzing because he is one tough guy,” McMichael said. “Just look at what he did for education in the ‘90s. He’d make a great mayor.”

That statement sounds more fake than the pro wrestling racket in which McMichael and his now-ex-wife participated in after his days in professional football were at an end.

ONE COULD ALSO make the argument that the Chicago Public Schools reforms of the ‘90s that McMichael referred to were more the work of then-schools CEO Paul Vallas – who has become a hired-gun education reformer who these days is trying to revamp public education in New Orleans.

Although in all fairness, I do remember those days when the names of Vallas and Chico were a pair, although definitely with Chico as “Robin” to Vallas’ “Batman” who handled the bureaucratic administrative details while Vallas dealt with the actual education reforms.

But back to football, where Chico tried to continue the weekend frenzy by feeling the need to issue a statement Sunday when it was announced that Richard Dent, the one-time Bears defensive end who also played for that 1986 Super Bowl-winning team that our city’s sports fans continue to immortalize to this day, is now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the definitely unglamorous city of Canton, Ohio.

Calling him a “longtime friend,” Chico said of Dent, “his famous intensity and determination on the field helped lead Chicago to the … Super Bowl championship. A ferocious competitor, Richard led the NFL in sacks that season and was awarded MVP of the Super Bowl. This honor is long overdue.”

SOMEHOW, I DOUBT that the Bears fans who have been waiting for years for Dent get a Hall of Fame induction were anxiously awaiting to learn what Chico, or any political person, thought about the issue. He likely gained more credibility from his weekend endorsement from 10th Ward Alderman John Pope; with 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson (wife of Rep. Jesse, Jr., and daughter-in-law of the Rev. Jesse) standing nearby.

It makes it seem like Chico is desperate to get his name included in the sports coverage – which really shouldn’t be a concern since various recent polls are now showing that Chico’s status has risen, and he really deserves to be thought of as the Number Two candidate in what could turn into a two-person runoff election come April 5.

His campaign is on the rise, yet he’s behaving as though he’s Number Four in this field of candidates (and I doubt that the real Number Four, Miguel del Valle, would resort to a silly stunt like this).

So yes, I do expect that some people saw the coverage Saturday and thought it was “cool” that McMichael was out and about in public, and that Dent is now a Hall of Fame football player.

YET INSTEAD OF feeding off of their “glory,” I can’t help but think that what Chico did was turned himself for the weekend into the schnook standing in the background trying to gain some attention for himself in a pathetic fashion.

That is, if they even noticed him at all.


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