Boone's Having Fun Playing, Winning

Glad to have the chance to help his team again in a starter's role during the past three weeks, Bears defensive tackle Alfonso Boone is having fun and is looking forward to helping his team make a run at a Super Bowl Championship.

You could say that Bears defensive tackle Alfonso Boone took the road less traveled on the way to a successful 7-year career in the National Football League.

Well, maybe you can't call it a road. It was more along the lines of a meandering trail or a path. Because he certainly didn't reach his goal with ease.

The highly likable big guy with an easy-going nature and deep laugh played football for Mt. San Antonio Junior College for two years before enrolling at Central State (Ohio) to continue his collegiate football career in hopes of playing professional football. But he left after a semester before ever playing a snap of football there after the school decided to drop it's football program.

Talk about hitting a major bump.

Boone entered the NFL Draft in 2000 and as the final picks were being handed to the Commissioner, it appeared that he would have to hope for an opportunity as an undrafted free agent -- until the Detroit Lions selected him with the next-to-last pick in the 7th-round.

He made the practice squad as a rookie and spent the first 11 games there until he was plucked off the squad by division rival Chicago. Boone was added to the Bears' active roster for the final 5 games and he's been there ever since; contributing at multiple positions, wherever the team needs him. His philosophy about football is simple.

"It's all fun to me," he told this week. "I'll play any position you want me to play; I just want to play."

But as he finishes his seventh season in the NFL, is football as much fun for Alfonso Boone as it was during his rookie season?

"Yeah, especially when you're winning," he said with a hearty laugh.

Alfonso Boone sacks Detroit QB Jon Kitna (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The 6-foot-4, 318-pound defensive lineman has been a starter some seasons and a valuable member of the rotation even when he hasn't started. And he's been a strong mentor to a group of relatively young defensive tackles that the Bears have added in recent years.

Entering the regular season finale against the Packers on Sunday night, Boone has 105 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 7 pass deflections, and a forced fumble during his 82-game career. And he's established a solid reputation for being an impact player even against the league's top runners.

"My best work is in the run game, so that's probably where I help the most," he said.

Lining up at the Bear's under-tackle position in head coach Lovie Smith's Tampa 2 defense, Boone's job is to be a disruptor, get upfield and cause trouble.

"Simple to say, but hard to do," he said. "But that's pretty much what you're supposed to do, just be extremely active out there."

And he certainly knows how to do that. Returning to the starting lineup three weeks ago when the team lost Tommie Harris for the year due to injury, Boone stepped in to do his part to help his team continue their winning ways. Last week against the Lions, he registered his second sack of the season.

"Our role is just to get up the field," he explained. "And I got up the field, and I think the guard didn't come down but the center came over. But I beat him to the quarterback, so I ended up getting the sack."

Boone will become a free agent at the end of this season and should certainly draw some interest from other clubs who could use a versatile, big-bodied defensive tackle who could bolster their run defense. And with a strong showing in the playoffs, his visibility and offseason value should rise even higher.

But for now, the Bears defensive lineman is focused on helping bring a Super Bowl trophy to the team and the city that has provided him with a great NFL career to date. Boone will continue to work hard and enjoy this moment, the opportunity to be a starter again during this Super Bowl run.

"You get to play football again, that's the way I see it," he said. "You know it's hard to replace a guy like Tommie, but you've just got to do the best you can."

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