A Golden opportunity

LAKE FOREST -- Because Warrick Holdman was released by the Bears -- and No. 53 wasn't listed on Friday's roster sheet -- everybody was wondering who the new guy was. <P> It just happened to be Thornton's Jack Golden.

The Harvey, IL native was as close as he's ever been to home since his playing days at Thornton High School. The veteran linebacker, who was cut by Tampa Bay last season, was brought in Friday to try out for the Bears during the team's first offseason mini-camp and signed a one-year contract by day's end.

"Tampa didn't even want me to come to this mini-camp, but I'll tell you one thing -- I've always wanted to play for the Bears."

Golden, an outside linebacker, is entering his fifth season in the NFL. He's already played in two Super Bowls and picked up a ring with Tampa Bay in 2003.

Golden has been a backup linebacker and special teams player for most of his pro career, but wants to prove he can be an asset on defense, too.

"They label me strictly a 'special teams' guy, but I'm trying to break that mold," Golden said. "I know I can play backer. I backed up Jessie Armstead in New York for two years, then went to Tampa and backed up Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles. I think it's about time for me to step out there and show what I can do."

Golden isn't sure if he'll make the Bears 53-man roster, but he knows he'll end up somewhere fighting for a job, just like he has his entire career.

"Everybody wants to say it's a game, but it's a business," Golden said. "You can play for the love of the game, but it's a business first."

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