‘High on Crack Street’

The 1995 documentary that inspired the Oscar winning film “The Fighter,” “High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell” shows the true face of crack cocaine addiction.

It was shot over 18 months in Lowell, Mass from 1993-1994. The documentary follows a group of crack addicts: Boo Boo and Brenda, the definition of an explosive relationship. And Dicky Eklund who is a former pro boxer that once fought “Sugar” Ray Leonard. 

40 minutes of the documentary is dedicated to Boo Boo and Brenda, which should be shown to every junior high kid in an anti-drug campaign. The other 20 minutes is about Dicky. 

“The Fighter” portrays Dicky as a harmless criminal but he was actually charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony, kidnapping, masked armed robbery with a sawed-off shotgun. The crime was not shown, however his hearing about the crime is. Dicky’s mother thinks he does nothing wrong and supports him in every way, just like in “The Fighter.”

Dicky does seem like a nice guy, he is a far better person than his counterparts Boo Boo and Brenda. Most of the scenes of “High on Crack Street” in “The Fighter” are actually not in the documentary.  

Dicky and Boo Boo corner Dicky’s half brother Micky Ward, who is played by Mark Wahlberg in “The Fighter.” It’s amazing that a top level fighter had two crackheads as his cornermen. The boxing match is the only scene Micky is in. Mickey O’Keefe, a Lowell police sergeant plays a role in the documentary as Micky’s trainer, and he plays himself in “The Fighter.”

It is slightly funny at the beginning, because everyone is so messed up on drugs that they can’t function properly. 

“High on Crack Street” can be seen for free at DailyMotion.com

Rating: A-
It’s a really good anti-drug documentary that is one hour. 
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2 Great 30 for 30 Shorts

Judging Jewell

The recent short “Judging Jewell” is about Richard Jewell and his role in the bombings at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. 
It shows how the media can dictate a story and change people’s lives. The film is one of the best “30 for 30 Shorts” yet and it’s only 21-minutes. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill will be collaborating on a feature film called “The Ballad of Richard Jewell.”
Rating: A

The Deal
Alex Rodriquez wanted to be apart of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, the front office drama that ensued was amazing. 
 The Red Sox almost had an all-time great offseason before baseball politics stepped in. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer discuss their first major failure in baseball. The documentary also explores the player’s union role during A-Rod’s eventual (inevitable) trade to the Yankees.
It has the best insight on the inner workings of big-time trades in professional sports. 
Rating: A-
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Windy City Critic Podcast 9

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What is Tom Thibodeau?

Tom Thibodeau is the fastest coach to 100 career regular season wins, he has the 12th greatest winning percentage at .657 with a career record of 205-107. Thibodeau has taken the Bulls to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, but it hasn’t resulted in any championships or NBA Finals appearances.

Thibodeau is 56-years-old without any patience, he wants to win now. 

But does his win now attitude help or hurt the Bulls? Is he a one-sided coach like George Karl? Does he run his players into the ground like Dusty Baker? Is he a great coach that players sour on like Larry Brown?  What do we know about Thibs?
When you Google “Tom Thibodeau family,” “Tom Thibodeau wife,” “Tom Thibodeau girlfriend,” the search results are “Tom Thibodeau’s social life is worse than yours,” “Bulls and Basketball an Obsession for Thibodeau” and “Tom Thibodeau coaches after father’s funeral.”

During Thibodeau’s four year tenure, his opponent’s points per game ranks 2nd, 1st, 3rd and 1st. Since 2010, no other team has been in the top 3 in points against in each season except for the Bulls. Thibs is one of the greatest defensive coaches of all time. Is his defense good enough to make Chicago a champion?

The Bulls had the worst offense in the league averaging 93.7 PPG in 2013-2014 and tied for worst in 2012-2013 with 93.2 PPG. Chicago had the 18th worst offense averaging 96.3 PPG with some Derrick Rose in 2011-2012 and tied for 19th averaging 98.6 PPG during Rose’s MVP campaign in 2010-2011. 

Thibodeau’s scheme provides amazing defensive numbers, but it also makes it hard to create offense.

He played his best players in a meaningless game in the 2013-2014 regular season finale, they lost and nothing positive came from the game. Chicago has looked fatigued in the playoffs under Thibs, his playoff record is 17-22. 

Luol Deng played the most minutes in the NBA from 2010-2013. Noah has the highest minutes per game by a center from 2012-2014. Two days after playing 35 minutes in a 23 point victory over the Bucks on Feb. 4, 2012, Rose had back spasms against the Nets. It started a string of injuries for Derrick. 

Since 2010, LeBron James has averaged 32.25 MPG in games with a point differential of 20 points or more. During the same time period, Luol Deng with Chicago averaged 34.47 MPG in 34 games with a point differential of 20 points or more. Deng played over two minutes more than James in every blowout, in other words, he played 75 more garbage minutes than LeBron.

The Bulls were set up to lose last season and Thibodeau still tried to win every game. He played his top players for way more than they should have. It’s like he has absolutely no foresight. He coached like he was going to lose his job, but Chicago would never fire Thibs under last year’s circumstances. 

So what is Tom Thibodeau…he’s an elite defensive coach with a poor offensive system that puts heavy meaningless minutes on his players. The Bulls and Thibs can win a championship, if he handles his players’ minutes more cautiously and the Bulls get Thibs a top level scorer.
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Baseball’s Sad Lexicon

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‘Hoop Dreams’

The 1994 Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, “Hoop Dreams” is an amazing portrayal of the delusions of athletic greatness in poor Chicago neighborhoods.

The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee over five years, who have dreams of the NBA at the age of 14. But the probability isn’t great, these kids have a crazy amount of expectations and pressure. As if they fail now, their life is a failure and nothing would be better from high school on. Gates says “everyone I know is my coach.”

Everyone, as well as parents and coaches, believes these boys will get out and get to the NBA, not just earn a full college ride. It shows everything that could go wrong in a young athlete’s life including bad leadership, pregnancy and immaturity. 

After the film, both of the boys’ male role models were murdered, Gate’s older brother in 2001 and Agee’s father in 2004.

“Hoop Dreams” is currently on Netflix.

Rating: B+
It’s depressing, eye-opening and long as shit with bad narrating. 
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Bears 2014 Draft Analysis

1st Round, Pick 14 - Kyle Fuller – CB, Virginia Tech
Height: 5-11¾ – Weight: 190 lbs – 40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds
ESPN Grade: 92 – NFL.com Grade: 5.97
Fuller is the most NFL ready defensive back in the draft but his ceiling isn’t very high compared to other DBs.  He started at Virginia Tech all four years, his polished instincts show his experience. Fuller was a second-team All-ACC selection and third-team All-ACC selection.

Fuller fits Chicago’s scheme because he is the best zone coverage corner in the draft, while his man coverage is just OK. He should see plenty of playing time immediately. His brothers, safety Vincent Fuller and wide receiver Corey Fuller both played in the NFL and at Virginia Tech. His youngest brother Kendall Fuller is the starting cornerback at Virginia Tech as a sophomore. 

2nd Round, Pick 51 - Ego Ferguson – DT, LSU
Height: 6-2⅞ – Weight: 315 lbs
40-yard dash: 5.12 seconds – Bench Press: 24 reps
ESPN Grade: 69 – NFL.com Grade: 5.46
Ferguson was a reach but his potential might make up for it. At LSU, he had one great season in 2013 and two lackluster seasons as a freshman and sophomore. Ferguson outshined his teammate Anthony Johnson, who was supposed to be a mid-round pick. 

He should be able to step into Jeremiah Ratliff’s role after he retires. Ratliff would be a great football mentor for Ferguson. Just like most rookies, Ferguson needs to get stronger and learn some more moves.

3rd Round, Pick 82
DT, Arizona State
Height: 6-0½
Weight: 303 lbs
40-yard dash: 5.36 seconds
Bench Press: 24 reps
ESPN Grade: 61
NFL.com Grade: 5.28

Sutton was the 2012 and 2013 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He is a decorated player but his motor is questionable. 

Sutton had a down senior season that made his stock drop although he was still an impactful player. He could be one of the best steals in the draft or a jobber that collects a paycheck.

4th Round, Pick 117
RB, Arizona
Height: 5-9⅜
Weight: 207 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.70 seconds
Bench Press: 19 reps
ESPN Grade: 61
NFL.com Grade: 5.40

Carey was a two-time consensus All-American running back at Arizona. Carey’s stock fell because of his size, poor 40-time and decreased value of RBs.

He has had two off-the-field issues, which also didn’t help him. Carey averaged an impressive 2,000 yards from scrimmage in his final two collegiate seasons. His 652 rushing attempts in those two seasons is a red flag. Does Carey have any tread left on the tires?

4th Round, Pick 131 - Brock Vereen – S, Minnesota
Height: 5-11⅝ – Weight: 199 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds – Bench Press: 25 reps
ESPN Grade: 67 – NFL.com Grade: 5.39

Vereen is a First Team All-Big Ten selection. He led all DBs in bench reps and had the 2nd fastest 40-time by a safety. Vereen is a converted cornerback, so he’s not a good tackler and has a small frame. He’ll compete for the starting job, don’t be surprised if he started by week 8. Vereen’s brother is NFL running back Shane Vereen.

6th Round, Pick 183
QB, San Jose St.
Height: 6-1⅝
Weight: 212 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.99 seconds ont>
ESPN Grade: 63
NFL.com Grade: 5.19

Fales is a project quarterback, it would be suprising if he is still in the league in two years. But he fits Marc Trestman’s mold, a quarterback with a quick release that can easily adapt to new systems. 

6th Round, Pick 191
P, Miami
Height: 6-4⅛
Weight: 220 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.62
Bench Press: 23 reps
ESPN Grade: 34
NFL.com Grade: 5.1

O’Donnell is a third team All-American punter that has the workout numbers of a defensive lineman. 

He will compete for a job and could be a great kick-off specialist, which Robbie Gould is not. It was a weird pick, but without Adam Polesh, Chicago had instability at the position. The Bears haven’t drafted a specialist since Michigan State kicker Paul Edinger with the 174th pick in the 2000 draft.

7th Round, Pick 246
OL, Boise State
Height: 6-3⅞
Weight: 303 lbs
40-yard dash: 5.35
Bench Press: 21 reps
ESPN Grade: 49
NFL.com Grade: 5.26

Leno is a versatile o-lineman that could be a guard or tackle, but he’ll have to bulk. He had the worst bench reps among OL with 21, S Vereen and P O’Donnell had more reps than him.

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Top 10 Chicago Bears Draft Classes

1. 1983
Jimbo Covert
Dave Duerson
Richard Dent 
Mark Bortz

This draft added the championship depth that the Bears needed around their superstars: Walter Payton, Mike Singletrary and Dan Hampton. Hall of Famer Dent was the big addition, but Covert and Duerson became All-Pro players along with 2-time Pro Bowler Bortz. Chicago also drafted two above average players: Tom Thayer and Willie Gault. In total, the Bears selected  six Super Bowl starters in the 1983 NFL draft, it was a turning point for the franchise. 

2. 1940
Bulldog Turner
Ken Kavanaugh
Ed Kolman
Lee Artoe
Harry Clarke

The 1940 draft produced the final pieces of the Bears greatest dynasty. It produced a Hall of Famer, two All-Pros and two Pro Bowlers that resulted in four NFL championships. The Bears went to four straight NFL championship games and five out of seven seasons from 1940-1946. If WWII didn’t break out, this team could have won more.

3. 1965
Dick Butkus
Gale Sayers
Dick Gordon

The Bears had the 3rd and 4th overall pick and they drafted Butkus and Sayers. The two rookies made an impact immediate and became Hall of Famers. Gordon eventually turned into a Pro Bowler. But this draft did not result in any championships or playoff appearances. Butkus is a top 5 all-time linebacker. Sayers was on track to be an all-time great before a career threatening knee injury. It is one of the few times that drafting two Hall of Famers did not result in a championship. 

4. 1936
Joe Stydahar
Danny Fortmann 

Stydahar was Chicago’s first ever draft pick and Fortmann was its final pick in the first draft. Both players became Hall of Famers and NFL champions. They combined for seven Pro Bowl selections, 10 All-Pro selections and three NFL championships. 

Stydahar was the definition of an old school player. He played 60 minutes a game and rarely wore a helmet. Fortman also played both ways at an All-Pro level, but he was completing medical school while doing so. Besides Stydahar and Fortmann, the seven other players drafted combined for 7 games started in Chicago. 

5. 1939
Sid Luckman
Ray Bray

Luckman is one of the best football players in NFL history and the best quarterback of his era. He passed for 137 touchdowns as a QB and intercepted 17 as a defensive back. Luckman won four NFL championships and started in five NFL championship games over his career. 

Bray went to four Pro Bowls, two in the early 1940s and two in the early 1950s. Without WWII, Bray would have a been a Hall of Fame player. Both players played key roles on Chicago’s four championship teams. 

6. 1975
Walter Payton

The 1975 draft only produced one Pro Bowl player but it was a sweet one. 

Payton is the greatest Bear and one of the greatest running backs of all time. He has the most all-purpose yards in NFL history by a running back. Payton holds the record for the most consecutive starts by a running back with 170. 

Chicago also drafted Mike Hartenstine, Revie Sorey and Doug Plank, they started 313 games for the Bears. The famous 46 defense is named after number 46 Plank.

7. 1981
>Mike Singletary
Keith Van Horne

Singletary has been elected to the most Pro Bowls by a Bear. Critics say Singletary actually isn’t that great because he was on such a great team. Even if he was surrounded by an excellent supporting cast, he took advantage of the opportunity and became one of the all-time greats.

Van Horne was a 13-year starter in Chicago. He was important to the franchise, although he was never selected to a Pro Bowl. The Bears also signed undrafted free agent Jay Hilgenberg, who became a 7-time Pro Bowl selections. 

8. 2003
Charles “Peanut” Tillman
Lance Briggs
Since the Bears drafted Briggs and Tillman, the team’s record is 96-80 with three playoff appearances.

Briggs is arguably the best Bears outside linebacker ever. He is a great all-round player with very few weaknesses. Briggs doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because of Brian Urlacher and his lack of sacks.
Tillman leads the Bears in career forced fumbles with 40 and career interceptions returned for touchdowns with 8. He has the 2nd most interceptions by a Bear. 

9. 2000
Brian Urlacher
Mike Brown

Urlacher, the Bears career tackles leader, has left a mark on this franchise’s storied history. The only thing he didn’t accomplish is a Super Bowl title. Urlacher is a 4-time All-Pro selection, 8-time Pro Bowl selection and 2005 Defensive Player of the Year. 
In 2001, Brown produced 2 defensive TDs, 2 forced fumbles, 3 sacks, 5 interceptions and 61 tackles. He had 301 tackles and 17 forced turnovers from 2000-2003, averaging 75 tackles and over 4 turnovers per season. Brown’s injuries hurt his career, his started only 21 games from 2004-2007.

10. 1954
Rick Casares
Harlon Hill

Casares owned the Bears career touchdown record from 1964-1979. Casares is still 3rd on the Bears all-time touchdowns list. He led the league in rushing yards (1,126) and touchdowns (14) in 1956. In his five Pro Bowl seasons, Casares averaged 4.2 yards per carry, 995 yards from scrimmage and 8 touchdowns. 

From 1954-1956, Hill’s season averages are unbelievable for his era. He had 45 receptions, 1,014 yards, 22.7 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns.Hill has the 2nd most career receiving yards and touchdowns by a Chicago Bear. 

Honorable Mention:
Dan Hampton

Mike Ditka
Mike Pyle

Tony Parrish
Olin Kruetz
Patrick Mannelly

Wilber Marshall
Ron Rivera
Shaun Gayle

Marty Booker
Warrick Holdman
Rosevelt Colvin
Jerry Azumah
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