The Moose is Introduced

Like taking a new car for a spin around the block, the Bears took the time on Tuesday to show off their new acquisition in WR Muhsin Muhammad.

Despite receiving a six-year $30 million including a $12 million in guaranteed bonuses, Muhammad doesn't consider himself a savior.

"I don't think there's one player in the league that can go to a team and totally change the whole team in a year," Muhammad said. "But I do plan on being a piece of the puzzle that it's going to take to put this picture together."

When the Panthers cut Muhammad on Friday because he was due a roster bonus of $10 million, the Bears jumped on the opportunity to upgrade arguably the weakest area on the team.

The Bears had the worst passing game in the NFL a year ago. While inconsistent play at quarterback topped the reason why, the lack of a go-to receiver was also a contributing factor to the lack of production.

The unit accounted for 111 receptions for 1,561 yards with just three TD catches. The six-foot-2, 217-pound, Muhammad is coming off his best season in the NFL when he was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career. He caught 93 balls and led NFL receivers in yardage (1,405) and touchdowns (16).

The nine-year veteran will be expected to lead by example for a receiving core that after the release of David Terrell has a combined five years of experience in the league.

"I know the hardest thing for a wide receiver is to come into the game and have to learn by trial and error," Muhammad said. "It always helps to have some good veterans around you, some good veterans that know how to get the job done. Throughout my career I've been pretty productive. I've been a pretty good receiver throughout my career and I want to bring those things here and help the guys here."

Muhammad will not only be a role model for fellow receivers, but also allow Rex Grossman to develop into a legitimate starting quarterback in the league.

"My job basically is to come in and try to make Rex's job as easy as possible," Muhammad. "I played with another quarterback that you're probably familiar with, Jake Delhomme, and he hadn't had any real NFL experience before two years ago and his first year as a starter we went to the Super Bowl."

Although Muhammad didn't guarantee a repeat for the Bears in 2005, he came to the organization to help the rebuilding process.

"You know, Carolina in the nine years there maybe the Lord had me there to serve as a training camp for what I'm going to embark on here for the next six years," Muhammad said.

There is some question if Muhammad will be able to fulfill the entire length of the six-year deal he signed with the Bears. Like most areas, Muhammad comes off with complete confidence.

"I'm 31 and I just had the best season of my career," Muhammad said. "I caught 1,400 yards and I caught 16 touchdowns and I had a lot of fun doing it.

"I have a passion for what I do. I love this game. I love preparing for this game. I love to work out. Even when I'm not playing football I get up and I run in the morning. So I think my wife will tell you I'm a workout freak. So I think that definitely is something that is going to allow me to play a few years longer in my career."

The 1996 second round draft choice out of Michigan State has 578 career receptions for 7,751 yards, 44 touchdowns and an average of 13.4 yards per catch. He led the NFC in receptions in 1999 and 2000 with 96 and 102 catches respectively.

Not everything has always gone Muhammad's way. Earlier in his career he admitted to struggling with the team concept and being more concerned about how many personal stats, which led to a stunt that didn't make teammates, coaches or the Carolina Panthers organization happy.

"I went a stretch of games where I didn't catch very many balls and my coaches were asking me, because I was commanding so many double teams, my coaches were asking me to lure defensive backs this way so we could create opportunities for other players," Muhammad said. "As a young player that's frustrating. And that was something else that I had to learn from in my career was to be an all-around team guy. I put D. Coy on my back and went out to practice one day because that day in installation I was the decoy for that game plan. And so that was something that I did and I thought that it would be funny but it didn't turn out to be funny to anybody else."

Monday the Bears cut a receiver that didn't produce on the field and gave them headaches off. Although Muhammad has always taken care of business between the lines, he's had his share of problems away from the game.

During a routine traffic stop, Muhammad was arrested for carrying a concealed guy and simple possession of marijuana in January 2002. He received one year of unsupervised probation and was ordered to pay a $150 fine after pleading guilty.

While he was a student at Michigan State, he was pulled over for having a broken mirror in September 1993. Police reported finding a loaded .38-caliber gun in the glove compartment.

That arrest came only months after Muhammad was placed on probation for possession of marijuana. He spent 90 days in jail for violating his probation.

Muhammad addressed the issues head on during Tuesday's press conference at Halas Hall.

"I've made some mistakes in my career and in my life. I've had opportunities to change those things and I did that," Muhammad said. "I think that I've moved on. My life has been better because of that and I'm grateful for those opportunities and I've made the most of those opportunities and I will continue to do that."


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