When the Chicago Police Department’s football team was down by 20 points at halftime today to the Fire Department’s squad, Acting Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told the police team about a game in the 1990s where his New York City cops were up 21-0 at the half against that city’s firefighters.
Recalling that New York City’s firefighters came back and beat the NYPD by one point, he urged Chicago’s finest to engineer the same kind of rally. And they did just that.
“I told them that this is where you show what type of character you have. They responded. There’s no doubt the character and the heart that these guys have,” McCarthy said shorty after the police team -- dubbed the Enforcers -- prevailed in overtime over the Chicago Fire Department’s team -- aptly called the Blaze -- 29-26.
The game came down to an overtime field goal made by the police kicker Chris Lenti, followed by loud chants of “CPD! CPD!” from hundreds of their fans in the bleachers behind the officers' sidelines at St. Rita High School's football stadium on the Southwest Side.
Although the firefighters lost, Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff said “it's hard-nosed football, it’s a good rivalry” and “it brings people together.”
“They (both teams) got their heart and soul into this and I give them all the credit in the world for doing this,” said Hoff.
The game raised money for various charities and included a moment of remembrance to honor Corey Ankum and Edward Stringer, two Chicago firefighters who died in a South Side fire last year.
Chicago Police Officer David Blake, a former player on the Enforcers, was also honored at the game. A SWAT officer, Blake was off-duty when he was shot and killed in 2010.
Also in attendance was Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen, who administered the coin toss before the start of the game. When asked by a reporter if there were any players on the field who could be potential pro material, Olsen smiled.
“They have some guys out there who are running out there and doing a pretty good job,” Olsen replied.
Standing on the firefighters' sidelines, Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said he enjoyed the game and when asked the same question, he stated: “I'm not recruiting today. Sorry. I don't know.”
McCarthy, who played linebacker for the New York City Police Department team, didn't entirely rule out playing for the Enforcers in the future.
“Well, who knows? Maybe I'll do it symbolically and play a couple of plays some day. We'll see what happens. But I'm 52. At this point, it hurts,” he said with a laugh.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times