John Crist: If you play in this league long enough, you're going to be on a bad team at some point in your career. But is there any way to describe just how bad 0-16 felt this past season when you were in Detroit?
Michael Gaines: Yeah (laughs). It was depressing, man. But as long as you keep living, God gives you another chance to get better and gives you other opportunities. I look at this being a great opportunity for me.
JC: Ever since Rod Marinelli came to the Bears, the defensive line has raved about how great a teacher he is. But when he was the head coach of the Lions, was he not able to do as much teaching since that's more of a CEO-type role at this level of the game?
MG: Same thing. It was the same thing. It was unfortunate that we went through a season like that [and] he had to go through a season like that as a head coach. We practiced hard for him because he's a great man to play for. If he ever gets another head-coaching job, people like to play hard for him. He's a great guy, a great teacher and a great motivator.
JC: Not many fans give too much thought to the third tight end in short-yardage and goal-line situations when watching the NFL on Sundays. However, just how important is the No. 3 tight end in Chicago's offense?
MG: In this offense, it's very important. Because if you really study the Bears, this is a tight-end offense. Greg Olsen is a great tight end. Desmond Clark is a great tight end. So tight ends are very important in this offense, and as a third tight end you've got to be ready for any situation. I'm praying to God nobody goes down, but you've always got to be ready as a No. 3 tight end. So it's very important.
JC: The reputation you have around this league is that of a top-quality blocking tight end. But is that a good thing for a player like yourself, or does that pigeon-hole you to some degree and you're not given enough chances to be a receiver?
MG: People around the league know your skills. They do enough studying on you. They do enough research on you. My catching has never been a problem, but I'm known as a blocking tight end. And that's cool. As long as I get a job (laughs), that's cool. I look at me running routes and me catching the ball, I see that as extra, as incentive to the team I'm on for them.
JC: You mentioned Olsen and Clark already. A lot of free agents tight ends would have gone anywhere but the Windy City because of those two guys on the depth chart. Why did you decide to come to this team after all?
MG: Believe it or not, it was more spiritual for me. And I want to win. Lovie [Smith] is a great guy, and Rod is here. Those two together. I scratched my head, too. I pondered with it and I pondered with it, but my heart was like, You need to be here. I'm just going to make the best of this opportunity and do what I do to the best of my ability.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
Camp Chat: TE Michael Gaines
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