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NFL teams have differing views on nostalgia in camp

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Posted July 30, 2010 @ 3:48 p.m.
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

The Patriots have taken down pictures and reminders of the franchise's Super Bowl glory days in the team's facility — a Bill Belichick mandate.

The Rams last year did similar things with artifacts from the "Greatest Show On Turf" days of yore, ordered by head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who went on to go 1-15 in his first season with the team.

But the Bears, interestingly enough, are invoking a chant of old — they are handing out "Monsters of the Midway" t-shirts (photo courtesy of the Tribune's Brad Biggs) — with the idea of reviving their defensive greatness.

Which way works? We'll see.

What's interesting is that you're talking about, until proven otherwise, an upper-echelon team (the Patriots), a middle-of-the-road club (the Bears) and a last-place squad (Rams). Everyone has their own ideas for motivation.

Belichick played off questions about the team's interior design motives, saying "the walls needed painting."

Spagnuolo took this action last year, and it caused a few former Rams to get fired up. If the Rams don't better their one win from a season ago, I suspect that there will be a new design theme coming … with whomever the new head coach is.

And that's the point: All of this stuff adds up to very little if it doesn't achieve its purpose. I was in school at Mizzou when the basketball team wore shirts the season after UCLA's Tus Edney broke their hearts with a mad dash down the court in the NCAA tournament. The shirts said "4.6" which was the number of second it took Edney to race the length of the floor and get off his signature runner in the lane to prevent the monumental upset.

Did it work? Uh, nope. The Tigers started the season ranked I believe around 10-15 in the national polls and ended up with an 18-15 record and a second-round NIT loss (to UAB, if memory serves me correctly).

Lovie Smith thinks it will be important to remind the Bears what standard was set for them with the teams of the mid-1980s, especially the '85 brand. I can tell you that I spent a good amount of time around the '06 Bears, the group that had to endure endless comparisons to the '85 team, and not all of them were all that crazy about it. Neither were some of the '85 players, who felt the new guys didn't pay enough deference to their elders.

But Smith had his reasoning for bringing up this theme again. "We're going to talk a lot about the Monsters of the Midway, getting back to that brand of football," Smith said Thursday. "Of course we want to score. But we need to be a tough, physical group."

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