Just two seasons ago, the Chicago Bears were on top of the NFC North division, but that seems like decades ago. Besides their on-field slide, the Bears are encountering a number of problems surrounding contracts and legal matters.
It must be tough being a Bears fan.
Recently being the top dog of the NFC North, the Bears became the last-place team in the division within the span of one season. And, while the Vikings, Packers and Lions have all taken strides to improve themselves, the Bears appear to be the only team in the division going in the opposite direction.
As bad as things have been on the field, it doesn't look as though things are getting better. If anything, they are getting worse. Consider the following:
With the chance to upgrade at quarterback, the Bears simply re-signed Rex Grossman and appear to have just punted their problem ahead another year.
Brian Urlacher, who signed a monster contract just three years ago, is digging his heels in the sand, saying he wants a new deal that the Bears seem unwilling to pay.
Tommie Harris, their young star at defensive tackle, is also being sought out for a long-term contract. Yet, it would seem the Bears don't want to shell out the kind of money top defensive tackles are being paid these days.
Devin Hester, arguably their top big-play threat, is also looking for a long-term deal to pay him the money he believes he deserves. But the Bears are dragging their feet on that deal too.
Lance Briggs, who recently signed a long-term extension, could be in legal hot water. He is scheduled to meet with a judge in June after completing just two of his 120 hours of community service as part of a plea deal when he flipped his luxury car last summer and fled the scene before police could arrive, hiding out and giving many the impression that he was hiding something more at the time of the accident.
RB Cedric Benson was arrested over the weekend for DUI while boating, adding to his laundry list of problems that begin with him never living up to his high draft standing.
Say what you want about the Vikings being on the right side of the arc as it pertains to being a team on the rise. The Packers nearly reached the pinnacle last year and Detroit found a way to avoid losing 10 games for the first time in a long time. Now it's the Bears' turn to be under the microscope. From this vantage point, it looks as though it may be some time before they contend for the division title again, giving hope to fans from Minnesota, Green Bay and Detroit that 2008 might be their year.