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TAKE 2: Roaming the sidelines

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com)
The Bears' coach Marc Trestman discusses a late fourth quarter time out with head linesman Mark Hittner during a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Bears on Sept. 15 at Soldier Field.

The Bears improved to 3-0 this weekend with a win on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Shaw Media’s Hub Arkush and Tom Musick discuss:

Musick: Hub, more than 12 million of us watched the Bears-Steelers game from our couches and beanbag chairs and exercise balls and wherever else people sit. But you were down on the sidelines at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field for the game. What’s that experience like? Do you ever worry that you might be stampeded?

Arkush: Gee Tom, funny you should ask. Apparently both Laura Oakman and Pam Oliver of Fox have had some close calls recently, but I’ve found if you’re paying attention it’s actually a pretty safe place to be. To be clear, both Pam and Laura are pros who are good at what they do, and stuff happens, but it’s pretty hard to get in harm’s way when you’re watching what’s going on, on the field. Of course as more NFL teams continue to put more and more sponsors and fans on the field in search of the almighty greenbacks, there are bigger traffic jams down there all the time.

Musick: You just gave me an idea to open up a nightclub and call it The Sideline. Everybody would want to be there. I’m picturing a long, narrow building with the bar on the opposite side of the white line. Anyway, I know Roger Goodell might try to taze you if you spill off-the-record beans, but what’s one thing you have learned as a sideline reporter that everyday, TV-watching football fans might not know?

Arkush: I’m sure this will shock our audience, but there are some gentlemen down there with horribly foul mouths who, for reasons I’ll never understand, are constantly yelling at people on the other side of the field to go do things that are clearly anatomically impossible. What’s up with that?

Also, many players and coaches spend more time surfing the stands – for whatever it is they may be looking for – than they do watching the game, a number of coaches are really funny when they get mad, and placekickers and punters are some of the most polite people in the world.

From a football perspective, there is a lot more coaching and a lot less motivating than you’d expect. Coaches’ conversations with players are mainly about the photos being taken during the game and adjusting the X’s and O’s rather than trying to get guys to win one for the Gipper.

Musick: Hmm, I bet most players are busy scanning the stands to look for, um, their moms. Yeah, that’s it. Their moms. So, from your point of view on the sideline, does it seem as if some teams are more organized and better prepared than others? I ask this because the Bears are playing the Detroit Lions this weekend. The Bears strike me as a pretty disciplined group. The Lions, not so much.

Arkush: Actually, Tom, most NFL sidelines are organized and run pretty much the same way. Players tend to sit or stand together in units when they come off the field. Most of the starters will sit or head for the water or stationery bike when they come off and not really watch the game. In today’s stadiums, you see a lot more guys watching on the jumbotrons from the bench, but after they’ve been off for a while, if the other unit is still out there, they’ll get up and watch the game live.

Reserves are always up on the sideline watching with the coaches when their unit is on the field, either hoping to get sent in or ready if they’re needed.

Head coaches rarely talk to players. That’s left to position coaches, with the boss usually laser-focused on the field.

Other than the fact that Marc Trestman rarely changes facial expressions more than once a quarter, while Jim Schwartz is as animated as they come and liable to go off like a Roman candle at any moment, you won’t see a lot of differences in the two sidelines this Sunday.

As for the guys looking for their moms in the stands, ah huh. Mom and any of the local talent that may be in the immediate vicinity.

Musick: Yes, exactly. Do you think the Lions would mind if we sent some pizzas to their sideline this weekend? I think Nate Burleson could use a get-well-soon gift.

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