To this day, few things look odder or more unsettling to Chicago sports fan than old images of Michael Jordan in a Wizards uniform or Mike Ditka wearing an Eagles or Cowboys jersey.
Jordan and Ditka appearing in anything but a Bulls No. 23 and Bears No. 89, respectively, set the local standard for strange sights.
Jay Cutler never approached the stature of either Jordan or Ditka in town but stuck around long enough that we became accustomed to seeing No. 6 as a Bear after eight seasons. So it was odd catching a glimpse of Cutler in aqua and orange Tuesday at his first Dolphins practice, bringing to mind other former Chicago athletes who wore different laundry after becoming household names in this city. Here are 10 from the last 15 years, ranked in order of how out of place they looked to us in their new uniforms.
1. Sammy Sosa, Orioles — 2005: Sosa struggled in 102 games for the Orioles after his unceremonious exit from the Cubs on the final day of the 2004 season, a departure during the 162nd game that baseball die-hards considered unforgivable. The slugger, 36 that season, hit .221 with only 14 home runs and 45 RBIs with a .671 OPS, numbers more alarming than the sight of Sosa in orange-and-black.
2. Frank Thomas, A's — 2006: Fresh off celebrating a World Series with the White Sox, the 38-year-old Thomas signed as a free-agent with the A's and exceeded most expectations. The Big Hurt hit .270 with 39 home runs and 114 RBIs to help the A's to an American League West title. Thomas then spent 2007-2008 with the Jays before ending his Hall of Fame career with a 55-game stint back in Oakland.
3. Kerry Wood, Indians — 2009-10: After gaining popularity he still enjoys from spending 1998-2008 with the Cubs, Wood signed as a free-agent with the Indians. He saved 28 games in two seasons before getting traded to the Yankees in 2010 — before returning to the North Side for 2011-12.
4. Olin Kreutz, Saints — 2011: Kreutz epitomized everything it meant to be a Bear in 191 games in navy and orange from 1998-2010 before a messy, abrupt exit over contract terms. He lasted four games with the Saints before retirement beckoned.
5. Derrick Rose, Knicks — 2016-17: If you thought seeing Rose in a Knicks uniform looked weird, wait until he wears No. 1 with the Cavs alongside LeBron James. Ironically, Rose is coming off his best scoring season since 2012 — the year he injured his knee the first time — with an 18-point average.
6. Mark Buehrle, Marlins — 2012: The crafty left-hander who had his No. 56 retired by the White Sox followed manager Ozzie Guillen to Miami for one forgettable season. Buehrle went 13-13 before regaining his footing north of the border with the Jays, for whom he went 40-28 from 2013-15.
7. Charles Tillman, Panthers — 2015: Tillman spent 2003-14 with the Bears, patenting "The Peanut Punch,'' but returned to the Super Bowl as an injured member of the Panthers. He intercepted two passes and forced two fumbles in 12 games before he got hurt.
8. Patrick Sharp, Stars — 2015-16: The Blackhawks' annual salary-cap purge sent Sharp into free-agency in the summer of 2015 at 33. He spent two seasons with the Stars, scoring 20 goals in 2015-16 before injuries hampered him last year, and always seemed destined to return.
9. Robbie Gould, Giants — 2016: The Bears missed Gould, a surprise cut at the end of last year's training camp. He went 10-for-10 in field goals but missed three extra points after joining the Giants in October. In the offseason, he switched coasts and will kick for the 49ers this season.
10. Kirk Hinrich, Wizards — 2010-11: Only two, Jordan and Scottie Pippen, have played in more games as a Bull than Hinrich's 748 so the point guard indeed looked as odd as he probably felt after his 2010 trade to the Wizards. Hinrich later played with the Hawks before coming back to the Bulls in 2012.
The wide receiver opening the most eyes at Bears training camp has been Tanner Gentry, the undrafted free-agent from Wyoming with the perfect name for a millennial pop star. Gentry was at it again Tuesday, causing the Bourbonnais crowd to ooh and ahh — and not just the media corps — after catching three touchdown passes, including a one-hander. It's easy to kid that he's the latest possession receiver to emerge as a camp sensation, following the tradition of past Mr. Augusts like David Ball, Dane Sanzenbacher and Mike Haas. But keep in mind Gentry, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, ran a 4.46 40 at his Wyoming Pro Day, has a 38-inch vertical leap and caught 72 passes for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. On a team bereft of playmakers, Gentry has a real chance of making the 53-man roster if his production carries into exhibition games.
Brooke Weisbrod was getting her hair cut at Yo:u Salon when she mentioned plans of organizing a basketball camp for Chicago Public Schools kids. Her stylist wanted to help.
"So next thing I know, she's sponsoring our T-shirts,'' said Weisbrod, a local broadcaster for ESPN who was the 2001 Big South Player of the Year at Coastal Carolina.
Weisbrod encountered similar cooperation at every turn, which is how the free camp was offered this week for CPS youths between the ages of 9 and 18 at Fenger Academy on South Wallace. Sponsors besides Yo:u include KRA, CPS, The Big Game Youth Camp, The Rock and Nike Chicago, covering thousands of dollars in costs for basketballs, sports drinks, a staff of 15 counselors and even a deejay for music to liven things up. The ambitious Weisbrod — a former radio and TV colleague of mine — and Lauren Walsh of LW Branding started the grassroots community effort with hopes of expanding the camp to hundreds of kids next summer. Nearly 60 campers showed up Tuesday with more expected at 11 a.m. Wednesday for Day 2, when former Fenwick star and WNBA player Devereaux Peters plans to address the group.
In a city where idle time can be every parent's enemy, this is a small step in the right direction.
"The emphasis is on teaching them moves to score,'' Weisbrod said. "But I've always just wanted to do something more in the community. The best part was having parents come up and say, 'Thank you.'"
Notre Dame released its new media policies Sunday that sounded familiar, covering typical injury policies and warning reporters not to "quote, paraphrase or report comments made by coaches or players during practice sessions."
Who says Brian Kelly isn't ready for the NFL?