Grappling with a problem

LAKE FOREST _ Ron Rivera had been the Bears' defensive coordinator for less than a week and already he faced an unforeseen problem.<p>

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was involved in a pro wrestling match in Nashville Wednesday, creating concern the Bears' $59 million linebacker could wind up with an off-field injury.

"Did he win?" Rivera joked on Thursday. "That's the only thing that matters."

Turning serious, Rivera said the matter of pro wrestling matches will have to be discussed with the Bears' leading tackler.

"The thing about it is he's just got to be careful and be smart," Rivera said.

Added head coach Lovie Smith: "Brian wants to help us win. He's not going to do anything really to hinder the Bears winning this coming season. That's all I can really say on that. Things that will put our future in jeopardy, of course, I will deal with on an individual basis without all the players. Brian and I, of course, will talk about this. Right now I don't know enough about it to even respond to it."

Urlacher didn't actually wrestle a match. He was a "second" for his wrestling friend Erik Watts in an NWA-sanctioned match against Don Callis on TNA Pay-Per-View Wrestling. It was Urlacher's duty to make sure outside "forces" did not interfere with the match.

A wrestler known as Johnny "The Worm" Fairplay attempted to jump Urlacher from behind. Fairplay is the classic pro wrestling bad guy and a former participant in the television reality show "Survivor: Pearl Island."

Urlacher picked Fairplay up, held him overhead and tossed him 20 feet out of the ring.

Local media asked Urlacher the difference between the NFL and pro wrestling.

"We have pads on, these guys hit the ground really hard," Urlacher said. "They're very good athletes."

Rivera got better news in Lake Forest when another new position coach was named Thursday. The Bears announced the signing of Torrian Gray as assistant defensive backs coach. Gray, a former Minnesota Viking who retired in 2000, joins the Bears following two seasons as the defensive backs coach at the University of Connecticut and two seasons at Maine.

Gray is expected to be an assistant to defensive backs coach Vance Bedford. The Bears haven't officially announced Beford's return from the Dick Jauron staff yet, but sources have said he will be back.


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