Mark Anderson Rookie Diary: Entry 8

Mark Anderson knew he would be a success in the NFL, but he never dreamed he'd be playing on a division winner his first season. In this installment of his Rookie Diary, Anderson reviews the freezing conditions against the Vikings, the team's preparation for the Rams, and the joy of putting on that championship t-shirt last Sunday.

I've never played in a game that was as cold as that one. It was nothing like the games when I played in college for Alabama, that's for sure. What was the temperature exactly? I think somebody on the field told me that the actual temperature was around 12, but with the wind chill it had to be below zero. Let me assure you that physically that was one of the most miserable playing experiences of my life.

There are heaters on the sidelines, and when you come off of the playing surface there is always somebody to throw a coat over you, but then you have to run back into the game again, you're freezing really fast. Believe me, it takes a lot of concentration to play when you are that uncomfortable.

The field itself was in excellent condition. Traction was good, and no part of it was frozen. That makes a big difference when you are trying to make a move on an offensive player. You need all the acceleration you can get to go after him effectively.

Overall, I'd say that I was somewhat satisfied with the way I played. Of course, the defense always wants tackles and sacks. Personally, I always want to be in there on the big plays. We were out on the field quite a bit during the game, but fatigue was not a factor, at least not where I was concerned. I welcomed the opportunity to get into the game any time that I could.

It was great to be back at Soldier Field after playing on the road for the past three weeks. I never felt jet-lagged or physically tired, but I think traveling messes up your normal day-to-day routine to some extent. It has to. The time changes, and the games start later than you're accustomed to. We'd try to rest on the flights to and from wherever we were playing, but that doesn't compare to being at home in your own living room.

Also, I missed the fans. Chicago fans are the best. They let you know they are really into the game, which is a lot of fun for those of us who are playing.

The staff in the locker room handed out the division championship t-shirts and hats right after the game. We all put them on before we went out to see our friends and families. That's something I'll keep for a long time. The shirts look really good. The hat, too. I'm sure my family will be after me to get them some.

It's hard to believe that the team just won the championship of the NFC North. That's a real thrill. As a rookie, I never imagined I'd be joining a team that would go to the playoffs during my first year. Growing up, I always heard about how good a team the Bears were, but to be a part of that tradition and to be going on past the regular season is a wonderful experience.

I plan to learn as much as I can before we reach the first postseason game. That's the kind of situation where you really want to be playing your best. I don't view wrapping up the division as a problem as far as any mental letdown might be concerned. I think that any time players get to a game, we want to win. It's a matter of pride.

Next up on the schedule are the Rams in St. Louis. This will be a game where weather won't be a factor, which is fine with me. We play on a Monday night, which means it will be nationally televised. That's always a good situation because you know your buddies are watching. It's an away game, but it's in the same time zone and not far to travel, so I don't see that as a factor at all.

As usual, we'll be studying film all week. The defense was strong this past Sunday, and I believe we all want that dominance to continue. We'll be running plays all week and figuring out how we're going to attack. The fact that the game won't be played until Monday will give us a little extra time to rest and heal from the Vikings game. The downside though is that the following week will be shorter to prepare for Detroit.

I think the team feels confident about the remaining games, but we aren't taking any team for granted. We'll take some time tonight and tomorrow to celebrate our championship, then we'll head back to work at Halas Hall on Wednesday to get ready for St. Louis. Finishing the season should be fun. Now we're definitely looking forward to going after home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Mark Anderson writes his Rookie Diary every Wednesday exclusively for

Get Chicago Bears Tickets at The Ticket Chest

Bear Report Top Stories