Breeding a winner

Make no mistake, the Bears do not want first-round draft pick <!--Default NodeId For Rex Grossman is 738189,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:738189]>Rex Grossman</A> to be forced into the starter's role at quarterback this year. And they wouldn't mind if imported starter <!--Default NodeId For Kordell Stewart is 664678,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:664678]>Kordell Stewart</A> hung on to the job for two seasons.

But they do believe Grossman is their quarterback of the future, although they aren't about to burden him with predictions of grandeur.

"I just want him to be a winning quarterback," said general manager Jerry Angelo. "That 'franchise' and 'special,' those things are thrown around quite a bit. Time will tell. If Rex is a winning quarterback, I'm happy."

At an even 6-foot-1, Grossman is not your prototypical NFL quarterback, but he exhibited enough NFL qualities in a stellar career at Florida to attract Angelo's attention.

"We obviously targeted Rex," Angelo said. "We are very happy where we got Rex (22nd overall), and we felt in terms of our strategy going into the (draft) that we could get Rex where we got him. We like Rex very, very much, and I want to answer (the quarterback question) now. When you look at the quarterback position, they need a developmental period of time. We all know that. When you look at the history of the position, if you can give them that (time), their chances for success are better. We can do that. So this doesn't impede our thoughts about what Kordell is for us and his future."

Though shorter than most NFL quarterbacks, Grossman is not a small man. He has the upper-body bulk that you would expect from a player who lifted weights with his offensive linemen at Florida. He also has the swagger that drew immediate comparisons to former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, the last player to lead the team to the Super Bowl.

"I like to have fun out there on the field, and that may seem cocky to people, but I'm just having a great time," Grossman said. "I love to play the game. I don't think I'm cocky. I just really enjoy myself, and I like our offensive linemen -- they protect me -- so I was making sure they were lifting weights. I was probably a little bit too young too see Jim McMahon play. I was probably 5 or 6. But I model my game after Brett Favre and Joe Montana and people like that."

Grossman's quick drop and release provide him the ability to get the ball out of his hand in a hurry, as he showed in spring minicamps. He also exhibited arm strength equal to or better any Bears quarterback in the last decade or longer.

"He won," Angelo said. "I liked his history. I think when you look at a quarterback, it starts there. He's accurate, he's tough, he faced major competition."

Because he did so -- and excelled -- Grossman is not likely to shy away from the challenge of starting as soon as possible. He was all-SEC as a freshman, but he doesn't expect the NFL to be as easy.

"I'm going to be working as hard as I can to make myself ready to play," Grossman said. "Whenever that is, that's going to be up to the coaches, and obviously I'm going to have a great quarterback to learn under in Kordell Stewart. When my time comes, hopefully I'll make the best of it."

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