Ruben Brown's going to Disney World. And although he had hoped for a February jaunt to Orlando in celebration a Bears' Super Bowl victory, the newly re-signed veteran seemed pleased to be going there with his family for one last break before the beginning of spring workouts at Halas Hall.
“Next year, you'll see, we'll be headed back there with that Lombardi Trophy under our arms," Brown said on Friday from the 10th annual Fan Convention. "You know that guy the TV people always have shouting 'I'm going to Disney World!'? Well, watch for me to be doing that about a year from now."
There was considerably more at stake for the Bears than a trip to an amusement park earlier this year, and the sting of the team's Super Bowl loss still lingers. And while Brown did enjoy most of the experience in Miami, he also felt that the overall result was the sense of a job left half done.
“It was frustrating to have come so close this year and to let it slip away," he said. "But if anything, the experience has focused us even more as a team. Nobody wants to go that far to end up as second best. We've had the excitement of being there. Now we want the experience of being there and winning.”
But to help the team reach that ultimate goal, Brown first felt it necessary to get the details of his contract in order.
“Nobody wants something like that to be hanging in the wind," he said. "It keeps your mind off of football. I am a control kind of a guy. That's just my nature. I want to know what is happening and when it will occur. I've been in this league for 13 years, and I've seen just about everything possible happen. My desire was to have a say in my own fate in terms of the Bears, and sooner rather than later. But I will say this – I was mighty glad when the phone rang and it was my agent telling me everything had been worked out.”
With the contract off of Brown's to-do list, he's content and ready to move on.
“I'm happy," he said. "In fact, I couldn't be happier about things between me and the management of the team right now. In my eyes, my overall worth was recognized, and that's a very good thing. I've lived all over the country during my career. It's hard to move around like that. I felt that I was at the point where I just wanted to remain in Chicago.”
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The Bears and Brown were able to reach an agreement in a relatively short period of time.
“I didn't want to drag things out," he said. "Neither did they. This is a good situation for me. You can't do better than this city, these fans, or the teammates. And when the right amount of money came on the table, it was a done deal. It can be unsettling if you are uncertain about your professional future. That's an unnecessary distraction. I am focused, relaxed, and ready to move ahead through the next season.”
But what about the very unsettled situation of Lance Briggs right now?
“Lance? You know I can't comment on that," he said. "I wouldn't want to comment on that. We're all basically selfish, so we mind our own business and leave other people's affairs alone. I've always felt I've lasted so long in this business because I make it my job to concentrate on me. I am in charge of my own destiny, but I certainly am not going to give any input into a teammate's professional future. I say just leave him alone. What ends up happening, that's Lance's business alone.
When asked about Tank Johnson's situation, Brown was slightly more forthcoming.
“We miss him, that's for sure," he admitted. "Tank's a good guy, and I think we all feel he will come through this fine. Nobody wants to see a friend in jail. He made a mistake, and he is owning up to that error. You can't ask any more than that from anybody. Our job right now is to support him. We want Tank to understand that we accept him and that we are here for him, both now and later.
And how does Brown view the upcoming season?
“With great enthusiasm," he said. "The pieces are in place. Most of the starters are still around. Some of the injured guys will be coming back by training camp at the latest, and I think we could be adding strength through the draft. That's the way things have gone the past few years. I can't but think that those factors would add to our overall strength. There's a lot to optimize here, and I think the end result will make both the members of this team and the fans here happy at the end of next year."
|Beth Gorr has been covering the Chicago Bears for the last six years and is the Author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.