I just got done reading a Chicago Bears Book that was published in 2005: Mike Ditka and Rick Telander’s In Life, First You Kick Ass. I didn’t learn much from the same oft-repeated stories written by Telander from interviews with Ditka. (Although it was entertaining for a couple of nights). But once again I came away scratching my head, wondering why Telander, an accomplished author and journalist who was an adult covering the Bears during the era about which he was writing, didn’t make sure he hired a Chicago Bears fact checker.
Again, Telander points out in the very beginning that he lived across from the Bears practice field from 1984 on, and was writing for Sports Illustrated at the time, often covering the Bears. At that time, I was in high school, simply reading what others wrote about the team. So why does he write the following in this book, and why is my recall much better than his?
- Willie Gault was playing for the Bears as late as 1992. (Reality:Gault was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders following the 1987 season).
- Quarterback Bob Avellini was “traded in 1985″. (Avellini was cut in 1984).
- In the 1984 playoff at Washington, the Redskins “gambled by taking a safety late in the game”. (Actually it was Bears punter Dave Finzer that purposely stepped out of the end zone late in the game, surrendering 2 points but giving the Bears better field position to defend, which they did successfully.)
I have maintained websites about the Bears since 2000, but am still looked at as an amateur by the “real media”. But I am vigilant about knowing the facts about what I write. In 2009, I was hired to fact check a Chicago Bears book, a very good book in the end, and I believe I made close to 100 corrections before it went to print.
If you’re thinking about writing a book about the team, please make sure to fact check the Chicago Bears book, or hire someone that will do the job right.