"Don't ask me that," Kramer snapped. "Ask Curtis or Ron Turner. There's no reason to not execute, except the people we got running it didn't do it."
Perhaps there is another reason. The Bears haven't won a December road game since a 6-3 victory over the Raiders in 1987. Since then, they're 0 for 16.
The good news for Bear fans is that Chicago is home for its last two games, against the Bucs and the Eagles. The question is has the damage already been done.
Nobody's perfect, but Ed Brady is pretty darn close. This is the fourth season the 12th-year pro out of Illinois has been the Bucs' long snapper, and only once has he messed up on an extra point, field goal attempt or punt. The last of his nine snaps in the Bucs' 13-10 overtime win over the Packers on Sunday night was followed by Michael Husted's 47-yard field goal, which enabled the Bucs to even their record at 7-7 and assured them of avoiding a 13th consecutive season of double-digit losses. "He [Brady] is the best," says Buc special teams coach George Stewart. "He's to long snapping what Hardy Nickerson and Junior Seau are to linebacking."
Whoa! Let's not get carried away. Is it fair to compare Brady with such immortal long snappers as...well, maybe Stewart's right. A guy must be rather special to get paid $250,000 a year just to be a long snapper. Oh, sure, Brady is listed as a linebacker on the depth chart, but he has never played a down for the Bucs at that position.
So it's his work as a snapper that has earned Brady the anonymity he craves. "If they don't know who you are, then you're doing your job," says Brady, who responded to a preseason interview request by wondering why anybody would want to talk to him. Well, here's a reason: Fox TV's Pat Summerall pointed out this season that long snapping is a "lost art." When Brady heard that, he laughed. "It's not an art form," he says, "but if they want to call it that, that's fine. I'll call myself an artist."
Bohemian might be more appropriate. Brady's transportation to and from practice is often the 1981 Oldsmobile 88 that he borrows from his father-in-law. His wardrobe would make a GQ editor cringe. "What you see is what you get," says Husted, who has kicked three game-winners this season. "He's not high maintenance at all. He just needs enough to get by—T-shirts, shorts, a pair of shoes and a means of transportation. That's just the way he is."
When Viking free safety Orlando Thomas was seven, his father, Michael Wayne Clement, worked for a company that made concrete burial vaults. Some might consider that a grisly business, but Thomas was too young to care. "I wasn't into sports," he says. "I just liked being with my father."