In Chicago's Thursday night preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, Rex Grossman had a look on his face that not many Chicagoans had ever seen before. Grossman is usually good for a smile or look of determination on the sidelines, even in his darkest moments. But there was nothing of the sort as Grossman sat on the sidelines, an official backup for the first time in his career.
Grossman had been benched the previous year in favor of Brian Griese, who now resides in his previous home of Tampa Bay. But that was different. Everyone had the feeling that they would see Grossman again at some point in the season. This demotion, however, has no such feeling.
Grossman had the look of a man who knew he had been duped by the Bears management. An empty promise for a true QB competition in which Kyle Orton was obviously favored left Grossman a backup, unsure of his future with the Bears. But in all honesty, Grossman's face told me everything I needed to know. He looks like he wants out of Chicago.
Can you blame him? In the past two decades how many QBs have we won playoff games with?
One. Rex Grossman.
In the past two decades, how many big play QBs and potential threats did we have under center?
One. Rex Grossman.
How many Superbowls have we been to in the past 21 years?
One. Who was the QB? Rex Grossman.
Grossman helped bring home Chicago's first back-to-back NFC North titles, along with an NFC Championship and a Super Bowl berth. He broke 7 franchise records in his time here, and is, even now, one of the better QBs in Chicago Bears history.
And even with all that, he watched a city full of what he called, "great fans", turn on him when he needed their support the most.
And even now that Grossman appears to be out of the picture... for now...the Chicago fan base still unleashed their wrath on him. Grossman ran out on the field Thursday night to a flurry of boos and negative reactions.
He hadn't even run a play yet, not one play, and he was beeing booed. And for what? For dedicating his time and effort to a city that will soon turn on Kyle Orton the way it did him? Grossman's not even the starter, so why boo him? He has no effect on the future games, and is simply trying to cope with being demoted, so why boo?
The worst part, is the fans were booing Grossman for absolutely no reason. On a third down, Grossman dropped back to pass, watching a corner come free into the backfield on a blitz (big surpise, the line collapses for Grossman... that never happens..), and with literally no time (because he always gets it from his line) he made the right read and threw the ball away. A safe, smart decision that any intelligent QB would make, and a boo erupts from the crowd.
I half expected Grossman to get up off his back, throw his arms up in the air and scream, "What the hell do you want from me!?"
But he didn't need to. The look on his face said it all. His walk to the sidelines without so much as a word to his teammates, after once again being hung out to dry behind a poor offensive line, was all the statement he needed.
Grossman, very possibly, may request a trade from the Bears. His relationship with the fans has become so unbearable that they even refuse to accept him as a backup, a role in which he may never effect the outcome of another game.
So where may Grossman end up by halfway through 2008 or next season? The biggest possibility seems like the Miami Dolphins, who expressed an interest in Grossman when he was bound for free agency before the Bears tricked him into thinking he would have a chance to actually compete. Grossman was a hometown favorite after nearly winning the Heisman and leading the Gators to an SEC Championship.
Miami's best option right now is Pennington, and with Pennington's record, who knows how that will end up.
Other possibilities are the Kansas City Cheifs or Baltimore Ravens where Grossman would likely end up as a backup. But to him, a backup role elsewhere seems like a more acceptible environment than Chicago.
As a Rex fan, I'll be sorry to see him go. I'll be sorry to see Kyle Orton's season suddenly take a downward sprial after we've already shipped Rex out. And it will happen. Trust me. Orton's smokescreen against a pitiful 49ers defense will clear once he faces top pass rushers like Dwight Freeney in week 1 against the Colts.
Get out now, Rex. You'd be better off somewhere else...