If backup offensive tackle John St. Clair had any aspirations to become what he now terms a "touchdown machine" for the Bears, he kept his hopes to himself. Going into his third season with the team, the soft-spoken St. Clair seemed content enough to work the O-line and maintain as low a profile as a 6'5", 315-pound player can.
"I just came in and did my job, then went home," St. Clair said after the Bears' 20-10 win over Kansas City. "You'd rarely see anybody interviewing me after a game. "In fact, it's unusual if I'm not one of the first to get dressed and leave the locker room as I am so seldom interrupted."
But after Sunday's second-quarter TD reception following a two-yard pass from quarterback Rex Grossman on a tackle-eligible play, St. Clair said he now sees himself in a new light.
"Hey, I'm an offensive weapon now," St. Clair joked to the media members jostling for position near his locker after the game. "It's certainly a role I'm not accustomed to."
St. Clair's score put the Bears ahead of the Chiefs for the first time in the ballgame, a position the team would never relinquish.
"It's great to have contributed directly to the win," said St Clair, who came in at right tackle after starter Fred Miller went out with an injury a few plays earlier. "Although the time any of us spend on the offensive line certainly helps the Bears succeed as a team."
When asked if he was surprised when his number was called by Grossman for the well-planned trick play, St. Clair laughed.
OT John St. Clair (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
"When Rex called that play, I was in shock," he admitted. "Though, in retrospect, it was the right decision as I was wide open at the time. Actually, this was a play we'd been working on for quite a while. We all thought it would probably work pretty well. And no, I'm certainly not going to give out any more details on it as we might end up using it again."
Using the massive tackle as a temporary pass-catcher might not be completely unexpected as St. Clair had occasional experience both as a receiver and a tight end in high school and college.
"I played tight end quite a bit at Virginia, so I knew how to handle the ball," St. Clair said. "I tried to be good enough to play wherever the coaches wanted me. I did move around the field a lot. That's how I'd come to have more experience than you'd think in roles beyond tackle."
But when asked if perhaps the Bears had found a new offensive star, St. Clair just shook his head.
"I'm happy to spend my time on the line," he said. "That's a very important thing to me. In fact, when I did get the touchdown, the first thing I did was to look for the other linemen. I wanted to make sure that they got to keep the ball. They deserve all the credit. I was out there for one big play, but they are out there all of the time. None of them was around me right after the score though, so now I guess that means I will keep the ball. It's probably going in my trophy case. My first NFL score. That means a lot."
But as usual, St. Clair was ready to recede again into the background as quickly as possible.
"Sure, the attention was great," he said. "It was a complete thrill, but this is something I'd like to dedicate to other players at my position. I'll never forget that what I was able to accomplish today was in tribute to all anonymous linemen."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Chicago Bears for seven years and is the Author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.
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