Chicago Bears Fact Checking

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.

7 Responses to “Chicago Bears Fact Checking”

  1. Hey Roy! My sister gave me that book for Christmas. I finally read it earlier this month when I got summoned to jury duty. I think I found an error on the first page of the book…

  2. Ahh, thanks JDM, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that shudders when I notice ridiculous errors. When a nationally recognized sportswriter can’t catch them or hire someone that can, that’s what really drives me nuts.

  3. Believe me, while I don’t know Bears history as good as you, I find it very amusing I know more than the so called “experts”. And, I was only 8 in 1985. With the advent of the internet, there is really no excuse of making that many errors. All you have to go http://www.pro-football-reference.com/ or any other such site. Problem solved. Personally, I didn’t care for the book. It was nothing but another ass licking of Ditka and the 85 team. I’ve seen enough of those.

  4. JDM-Right on, totally agreed. The joke is on me with the Telander book because it’s 6 years old and I hadn’t read it yet. I think I bought it for my Dad back then and just needed something to read recently. I agree, it seemed to completely pander to the lowest common denominator of fans. And Telander is so highly regarded it shocks me that he wouldn’t A) KNOW THESE FACTS HIMSELF or B) at least hire someone qualified to check the facts. I’m proud of the fact that I was hired to fact-check a Bears book that came out in 2009, a good book, but I made 100 corrections, literally, that would have been extremely embarrassing if they got to print. If I were the author they certainly would have been. But hey-I will tell you I was pleasantly surprised by Steve Delsohn’s book “Da Bears” that came out last Fall. I had zero expectations for it, nothing against the author but the 85 Bears story has been told ad nauseam, right? I really enjoyed that book-there were some backstories from players I had never read before. I’d highly recommend you check it out. My opinion is helped a little by the fact that he actually cited my website in his acknowledgments, which was very cool for one of the “real” media to do. That is really rare, I have found.

  5. Fact-checking the fact-checker:

    The Bears did play Seattle in 1982 (and 1984). Lost the 82 game 20-14.

    The Bears did indeed give up a safety in the 84 playoff game to gain field position, but it almost backfired. The subsequent poor free kick by Finzer was returned by the Redskins to the Bears 45, giving them better field position. Washington drove to the 25 before they missed a field goal.

  6. RDS-You’re right-I whiffed on Seattle ’82 in this post. I did get it right on the website http://www.bearshistory.com/seasons/1982chicagobears.aspx. In 1982 it looks like they played one of the strange old fifth-place schedules, so they only played the Rams and Patriots from the AFC. There is no questioning a statement like “the Redskins gave up a safety” however. I remember the situation as you wrote it, because I was watching the game in 1984.

  7. Perfectly composed content material, Really enjoyed looking at.

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