Chicago Bears pre-playoff locker room interviews
Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett, Israel Idonije and Lovie Smith talk about heading into the postseason.
Admittedly jittery QB Jay Cutler, a postseason virgin, tells me he has tried to avoid watching the NFL playoffs since he joined the league five seasons ago. “It’s hard” to watch, he says. “You play 16 games and you don’t get in, it takes a toll on you.”
Wide receiver Earl Bennett’s wife is due to give birth in the days surrounding the playoff game. The first-time father admits his only fear is diaper duty: “I can’t change poop, man!”
Early in the season, many defensive players shaved their heads into faux-hawks and patterns as an expression of unity. Going into the playoffs, the offense is all about follicle growth: Many are sporting new facial hair, like the Blackhawks did in their Stanley Cup run. “Johnny [Knox]—his beard is ridiculous, man!” Bennett says, giggling mischievously. “Jay is getting there, Caleb [Hanie] is getting there. Devin [Aromashodu] and Rashied [Davis] can’t grow one. They tried, but it’s not going nowhere.”
“This time we know what to expect, what’s on the line, how finite it is,” defensive end Israel Idonije tells me, comparing this playoff run to the ’06 season, when the Bears blew an early lead to lose to the Colts in the Super Bowl. “You have to sacrifice all you can. Everything you can do, you have to do a little bit more. And it’s worth it.”
Desmond Clark confides he won’t be on the field during the playoffs if everyone is healthy. The vet tight end has been inexplicably inactive most of the season. Before Clark replaced an injured Bennett in the final regular season game, he hadn’t played since October 17 against Seattle.
“There’s not a lot we have to do” to prepare for the first playoff game, says Lovie Smith, whose head coaching job appears safe as he enters the final season of a five-year contract in fall 2011. “We’re ready for anything that will happen.”