George Makes his Pitch

Lake Forest - For a quarterback who hasn't seen a single moment of game day action since signing with the Bears last fall, Jeff George appears to be remarkably content. To the surprise of many who were familiar with George's reputation as a difficult personality both on and off the field, the Illinois grad seems to have mellowed into a father figure for the Bears.

"I look around me at practice and I take great pride in how much ability these players have right now," George said. ‘It is extremely encouraging because so many of them are quite young."

Always known as a fierce competitor who relished every moment of game time experience, George seems satisfied to be on the sidelines holding his clipboard.

"Right now I have everything that I could possibly ask for. I wanted so badly to get back in the game and for a time it seemed to be an impossible dream. When the Bears called and told me that they felt I still had good ability and that I could be an immediate and a positive influence on this team it was unbelievably exciting. I had been waiting for three years to hear those words."

George currently has a one-year contract with Chicago. Unless something dramatic happens this off-season, Rex Grossman is expected to be the starter with Chad Hutchinson emerging as the backup. Jonathan Quinn will likely be shown the door, while Craig Krenzel is off to NFL Europe.

Still, George hopes to return to Halas Hall next year, even as a third string QB.

"I realize that nothing in this business is guaranteed," George said. "But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Lovie Smith was upfront with me the first time we talked. Honesty is something that I greatly appreciate. What I have tried to show is that I can fill the required role. I am loyal and willing to do whatever might be needed. I've been in this league for quite a while and I know how to fix problems. If there is some way I can help out the other quarterbacks, then that's fine with me."

George, who was first drafted by the Colts in 1990, feels that he brings three basics to the table for the Bears: years of NFL experience, strong legs, and a formidable arm.

"I tried my best never to let my skills deteriorate," George said. "I may be older than a lot of the guys but I am confident in my strength. The difference I noticed once I joined this team is that my level of conditioning wasn't quite as competitive as it had been during my earlier playing days. Now I am confident that I am in top shape and can do my part if called into a game."

But subbing for Hutchinson isn't necessarily what George has in mind right now.

"To me, the thought that I'd be in there would mean that something had gone wrong. It is clear to me that Chad is the Bears starter and I am the number two. I'm mentally and physically ready should the need arise, but I would never wish for problems just for the opportunity to get in a game."

Although it hasn't been a satisfying season overall, George feels that it's important for the Bears to come out on top against the Packers and get positive momentum for 2005.

"In my mind, the Bears will be the team to beat next year. All the ingredients are here. And when I say this, I'm talking about both sides of the ball. I realize that some people have been commenting about the offense, that it isn't as good as it should be. But you have to look at the injuries they've been dealing with. That's an impossible situation when your starters keep going down. The raw material is here. Once everybody is healthy this is going to be the team to watch."

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