The vehicle didn't belong to Lance Briggs because Briggs was parked in the players' lot. The organization was holding Alumni Day, so chances are the flashy former Bear parked next to a bunch of reporters was either Otis Wilson or Doug Buffone - the only two guys who wore that jersey number with enough distinction to consider driving around Chicago with such a vanity plate. My guess is it wasn't John Roper or Sean Harris. It sounds more like Wilson's style than Buffone's.
But to answer the first question I posed myself, with due respect to "Mama's Boy Otis,'' Buffone never played on a Super Bowl winner as Wilson did. But he did play in 186 games from 1966-79, the third-most in team history, so that longevity gives him the edge.
Here are some more answers to your questions that you are free to agree or disagree with as you pass the time until Sunday when the Bears take on the Vikings.
I don't understand why Devin Hester isn't returning kickoffs. Is there some fundamental difference in the skill sets for punt returners and kickoff returners? --Gautam, San Francisco
Fundamentally, the biggest difference is that punt returners actually have to keep a closer eye on approaching tacklers because they get there quicker than on kickoffs. That would make one believe Hester has a tougher challenge returning punts than kicks. Kick returners perhaps have a more innate ability to read blockers and choose holes as they develop, but Hester showed that skill in abundance in college at Miami, where he returned two kickoffs for scores during his career.
Bears coaches stated last week when asked about why Hester returns only punts at this point that they did not want to overburden him with responsibility as a rookie. The job belongs to Rashied Davis, who showed some brilliance of his own in the preseason by taking a kickoff all the way back for a touchdown.
Coaches also were excited by the prospects of Danieal Manning returning kicks, though his promotion to starting free safety might affect his availability for returns. It would not surprise anyone around Halas Hall regularly to see Hester returning kickoffs before the end of this season if he continues to protect the football and run north and south on punt returns.
Mr. Haugh, I certainly respect your writing and opinion on the beloved. However, if you favor naming Berrian's leap, forget it. It's bush league and we are better than that. --Harold Bryant, Lafayette, Ind.
I don't necessarily favor naming Berrian's leap. He suggested "Bears Bounce,'' after the game and Daily Southtown columnist Phil Arvia cleverly came up with "Lakeshore Dive,'' - the same nickname reader T.R. Kerth emailed into the Tribune on Sunday night. Longtime Chicago sports broadcast legend Chet Coppock chimed in with suggesting, "The Papa Bear Plunge,'' or "The Halas Hurdle.''
I would never begrudge any player's right to celebrate because we in the media rely on characters to keep this game interesting; but it would be fine with me if Berrian flipped the ball to the referee after touchdowns, jogged back to the sidelines, and accepted hugs and high-fives from his teammates without ever approaching the first row of Soldier Field.
I have seen some discussions about having Devin Hester do a few plays on offense. Any plans by the coaching staff to do this? --Dave, Chesapeake Beach, Md.
It's been discussed internally and Hester would welcome any chance to get his hands on the football. Any plan would not have to be elaborate -- maybe a handful of plays per game that include a reverse or side-screen similar to what Carolina does with Steve Smith or simply a go route to let Hester take advantage of his 4.27 speed. The Bears haven't had to rely on gimmicks or trickery yet in two games but the Hester-to-offense option is not something that has been entirely ruled out at Halas Hall.
John Madden always likes to say that one can tell whether or not a team is "for real" after four games. If this is the case, will we know the Bears are "for real" if they beat Seattle on Oct. 1? --Brandon P., Chicago
That's a good barometer and who am I to argue with a Hall of Fame coach? He reads football teams well enough to have now worked for every major network that has televised the NFL over the past two decades, so his word is obviously worth a lot. Millions, in fact. But if the Bears look dominating again Sunday and beat the Vikings on the road, then it will be hard to say they are not "for real'' even if they will have opened the season against three first-year head coaches. The Seahawks game could go a long way toward bringing the Bears more national respect and attention but a team with a veteran offensive line, a mature, menacing defense and a quality quarterback making all the throws already carries the look of a genuine playoff contender from this chair.
Are the Bears reluctant to make Lance Briggs one of the higher-paid linebackers in the game because the contracts of Rex Grossman, Olin Kreutz, Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman are up after 2007? And why haven't they extended Lovie's deal yet given he is now the lowest-paid coach in football? Are they worried about in-season distractions? --Joe B., Oxford, Conn.
I don't think Briggs' deal will have much to do with the players you mentioned and more to do with allocation of resources per position. Because, let's face it, extensions for Grossman and Kreutz will be forthcoming if this season's success continues and Vasher and Tillman, while expensive, are the team's starting cornerbacks and likely will be paid accordingly because organizations budget their payroll by position.
At linebacker, the Bears have Brian Urlacher's $56.5 million deal as a point of comparison and will have to decide whether they can afford to fit another mega-contract for a linebacker under the salary cap given the team's other needs. That budget balance was a big reason why Rosevelt Colvin and Warrick Holdman eventually left the Bears for greener pastures elsewhere.