The Button-down Bears
At 32, and in his 11th season with Chicago, safety Shaun Gayle is the last remaining member of Buddy Ryan's blitzing defense that helped the Bears win the 1986 Super Bowl. A few days before Sunday's game between the Bears and Ryan's Arizona Cardinals, Gayle was asked to assess the differences between this year's team and that great Bear squad.
"Buddy figured out what each player did well, then put him in the best position to accentuate his attributes," says Gayle. "In Dave Wannstedt's defense the players are interchangeable. The program is in place, and he'll rotate players in and out to keep them fresh."
According to Gayle, that's something Wannstedt probably picked up while working for the Dallas Cowboys, his previous employers. "Unlike our 1986 Super Bowl team, you'd be hard-pressed these days to name our starters on defense," says Gayle. "This is an indication of one trend the Cowboys started—the corporate approach to winning."
On Sunday the corporate approach won out, as Chicago topped the Cardinals 19-16 in overtime.
Who gives his team more bang for the buck, the Rocket or the Missile? Raghib (Rocket) Ismail, the former Notre Dame All-America, will make $1.2 million this season as a kickoff returner and wide receiver for the Raiders. His less-heralded little brother Qadry, a.k.a. the Missile, a second-round pick out of Syracuse in '93, is being paid $375,000 for holding down the same jobs with the Vikings. Unlike his older brother, Qadry also covers kicks: He has made six tackles on kickoffs, including a touchdown saver, and he also does duty on punt coverage. Says Viking special teams coach Gary Zauner, "I think Qadry is a more complete player than his brother."
Here's the ammo to support that argument.
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