Rextra Special: Part 2

Dr. Daniel Grossman remembers coming home from work when Rex was only 4 or 5 years old. He'd arrive to a small boy standing in the front yard, waiting anxiously with some sort of ball in his hand.

"He always wanted to play catch," Danny recalled. "Now he just wants to play catch with the big boys."

Rex Grossman enters this season under a new coaching staff and a new offense. He went through the same thing in Florida this final season when Ron Zook took over for Steve Spurrier. Now under head coach Lovie Smith and a new system implemented by offensive coordinator Terry Shea, Grossman is learning his fourth different offense in five seasons.

The last Bears quarterback to start all 16 games in a season was Erik Kramer in 1995. In the last 23 years, the only others to start all the games were Vince Evans ('81) and Jim Harbaugh ('91). Grossman was knocked out of his third career start last season in the season finale against K.C.

The team cut Kordell Stewart and let Chris Chandler go. Behind Grossman is Jonathan Quinn, a career third-stringer, and rookie Craig Krenzel.

"The opportunity is here and I'm going to take full advantage of it," Grossman said. "We have a good team, a great offensive system -- there's opportunities here to take.

"It's been a goal of mine (to start). I think it's a very important position that I want to lock down here for many, many years. That's the ultimate goal -- be here as the starting quarterback for years to come and bring a championship to Chicago. I want to help bring back some of those great years."

It's been a long time since a QB owned the city. Jim McMahon had a short-lived run, but over the last 15 years, nobody's been able to be a consistent signal-caller for the Bears.

Since McMahon's exit in 1988, the Bears have had 22 different starting quarterbacks. None won consistently and most weren't around long.

"Rex has got nothing to do with that," Danny Grossman said, referring to the bad history of Chicago quarterbacks. "People say, 'Oh, my God. He's got No. 8. That's Cade McNown.' So what? He's not Cade McNown. The Chicago history of quarterbacks has nothing to do with Rex Grossman. The No. 8 has nothing to do with Cade McNown. It's just Rex. He's a player and he can play."

Developing a young quarterback to play early in the NFL isn't an easy task. There have been more horror stories than success stories, and plenty of coaches have lost their jobs over the one position that can make or break a franchise.

"I'm expecting Rex to win now," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "There will be growing pains, yes, because of the experience factor, but Rex has played in a lot of big games in his career. He's played in full houses, so he's understanding of that type of environment, both at home and on the road.

"That was part of why we drafted Rex, because he's been in that kind of arena."

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