The Bears arent playing the Super Bowl, but what's happening in San Diego still involves Chicago.
For example, did you know that the Raiders have a couple of Brian Piccolo award winners? And that the only school with more players on the Tampa Bay roster than Illinois is Florida State? Or that the local high school with the most players in this game is Thornton? Or even that the Cubs have some kind of a connection to this game?
Mike Alstott: Alstott is a Joliet Catholic graduate who became known for a workout regimen in high school that included pushing a station wagon along country roads. That got him Tribune All-State honors and a scholarship to Purdue, where his play got him drafted by Tampa Bay in the second in 1996. Hes be in Tampa ever since and is the teams all-time touchdown leaders and a six-time Pro Bowl selection. Of playing in the Super Bowl, he said: I would dream about this.
Simeon Rice: When Rice was in high school at Mt. Carmel, the Caravan won four state football titles; he was a Tribune All-Stater after they won in his senior year in 1991. That honor came as a defensive end, a position he grew into after starting his football career as a running back. At Illinois, he earned All-American recognition as a linebacker before being drafted third by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the 1996 draft. After spending his first five years in Arizona, Rice signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent before the 2001 season.
Jack Golden: Golden, from Thornton High School, is the least well known of the local products on the field for this Super Bowl. Originally signed by the New York Giants as a free agent after going undrafted in 2000, Golden played in 35 games, including Super Bowl XXXV, for New York before signing with Tampa as a free agent in 2002. The 6-1, 240-pounder is a linebacker who has made his mark playing special teams. Collegiately, Golden played at Oklahoma State.
Jameel Cook: Cook came to Illinois as a running back but moved to fullback. The Miami native started for the Illini as a sophomore and junior, earning a solid reputation as a receiver out of the backfield, and entered the 2000 draft after his junior season. The Bucs took him in the sixth round and he played in all 16 games as a rookie.
Ken Dilger: Dilger, an Indiana native, was a four-year letterman and three-year starter at Illinois, where he became a tight end after playing quarterback in high school. He was drafted by the Colts and started the final 13 games of his first season as a pro. He stayed with Indianapolis until signing with the Bucs as a free agent before this season. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2001.
Aaron Stecker: Stecker, a Green Bay native, went to Western Illinois and also spent some time with the Bears. Chicago signed him as an undrafted free agent in April of 1999 and waived him that August. He joined Tampas practice squad that October and has been a special-teams stalwart for the Bucs recently, especially as a kick returner.
Ramondo North: North, a wide receiver who is on the Tampa practice squad, was with the Bears during the 2002 preseason and was on the Bears' practice squad during the 2001 season.
Mark Arteaga, assistant to the head coach, football operations: Arteaga, a 1985 graduate of St. Rita, got into pro football as an administrative assistant with the Raiders in 1989-90. He stayed with Oakland until joining Gruden in Tampa last season. According to the Buccaneers Web site, he lettered in baseball as an infielder at St. Rita. What does he do? The Web site says that his duties include coordinating offseason programs, mini-camps, and training camp, as well as the football calendar for the entire year.
Kirby Wilson, running backs coach: Wilson was one of the first players Mike White brought to Illinois when he revived the Illini football program in the early '80s. Wilson played wide receiver and played two years in Canada before turning to coaching in 1985. He coached at five colleges, including two years at Southern Illinois, before getting his first NFL job with the Patriots in 1997. He joined the Bucs this season.
Bill Callahan: The Raiders' head coach started at quarterback for Illinois Benedictine after graduating from Mendel High School on the South Side. He coached at Oak Lawn and De La Salle before moving on to assistants' jobs at Illinois and Wisconsin. He was hired in Oakland five years ago as offensive coordinator before taking over as head coach this season. "He's an analytical, very detailed guy, and he's a very quick-minded guy, said Raider offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. He thinks of everything.
Napoleon Harris: The former Thornton and Northwestern star is in an unusual spot -- starting at middle linebacker for a Super Bowl team as a rookie. He is 11th on Northwesterns all-time tackle list and hes one of several Thornton grads who are making it in the NFL, including Tampa Bay opponent Jack Golden. As a collegian, he was an outside linebacker/defense end; as a pro, hes had to make the difficult adjustment to playing in the middle. But he has done it well enough that he had seven tackles in the Raiders AFC championship victory.
Rick Mirer: Mirer, who played for both Notre Dame and the Bears, is the Raiders No. 3 quarterback, behind Rich Gannon and Marques Tuiasosopo. He hasnt thrown a pass since playing one game for the 49ers in 2000. Hes played in nine NFL games since leaving the Bears after the 1997 season. You remember that one: he played in seven games, started three, threw for 420 yards with six interceptions and no touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 37.7. He came to the Bears from the Seahawks for two draft picks, including a first-rounder in 1997. And now hes part of the Bears' often disappointing quarterback history.
Trace Armstrong: Armstrong, who is on the injured reserve after sustaining a ruptured adductor muscle, started his NFL career as a first-round draft pick by the Bears in 1989. The 37-year-old, the 1989 Brian Piccolo Award winner, played in Chicago until 1995, when he was traded to Miami for a pair of draft picks that turned into Todd Sauerbrun and Evan Pilgrim. He led the NFL with 16.5 sacks in 2000 for Miami. He went to the Raiders as a free agent in 2001. This could be his last NFL season.
Darryl Ashmore: Ashmore, a 6-foot-7-inch, 310-pound guard/tackle, played his college ball at Northwestern and his high school football at Peoria Central. The 10-year veteran, 33, has been on the injured list all season with a torn left quadriceps. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the seventh round in 1992, went to the Redskins in 1996 and the Raiders in 1998. Hes been a backup for most of his career, though he did start 15 of 16 games for the Rams in 1995. Darryl was a four-year starter at Northwestern, where he started as a defensive lineman before moving to offense in 1991. He was a Tribune All-State pick in 1986. Another member of that 1986 All-State squad: Former Bear Chris Zorich.
Garrett Giemont, strength and training coordinator: Before joining the Raiders in 1995, Giemont spent four years as physical development coordinator with the Chicago Cubs.
Jim Harbaugh, offensive assistant: Harbaugh was one the many quarterbacks Bear fans loved to hate. He started with the team as a first-round draft pick in 1987. The talk then was that Harbaugh was the choice of then Bears boss Mike McCaskey; head coach Mike Ditka wanted to go elsewhere with that pick.
First considered a likely successor to then Bear legend Jim McMahon, Harbaugh also battled Mike Tomczak for playing time before taking over as the starter in 1990. The Bears went 11-5 with him at the helm in 1990 and 1991 and 5-11 in 1992 and 1993. In 1994, he was gone to Indianapolis; he later played for Baltimore, San Diego and Carolina. After last season with the Panthers, he retired. This fall, the 38-year-old got into coaching with the Raiders. Hes the Bears all-time leader in attempts and completions and is second in yardage to Sid Luckman.
Jay Norvell, tight ends coach: Norvell, 38, played one season for Bears in 1987 as a linebacker during the strike season. He was cut before the regular season started, came back during the strike, and stuck with the team for the rest of the season. Norvell was among the final cuts the next summer; included in that group were Bear Super Bowlers Keith Ortego and Reggie Phillips. The Madison, Wis., native played his college ball at Iowa.
Fred Pagac, linebacker coach: Pagac, 48, played tight end for the Bears after graduating from Ohio State. He won the Brian Piccolo Award as a rookie in 1974. After leaving Chicago, he played for Tampa Bay.
Skip Peete, running backs coach: Peete coached former Bear running back Skip Hicks at UCLA in 1996-97, and his dad, Willie, worked for the Bears as both a coach and a scout. Willie retired from the Bears in 1999.
Chris Turner, offensive assistant:Turner, a California native, has two local connections. He was a graduate assistant coach at Notre Dame in 1994 and his uncle is Ron Turner, the head coach at Illinois.
Angelo Coia: Coia played split end for the Bears from 1960-1963 and played on the Bears 1963 NFL champions. He wore No. 46, which became famous later on for other reasons. Hes now in the Raiders player personnel department.
Bruce Allen: Allen is the son of former Bear assistant and NFL legend George Allen. He helped his father run the legendary Chicago Blitz in the United States Football League, which won the USFL Central Division title in 1982 and left town the next season to become the Arizona Wranglers. His job title in the Raiders front office is Senior Assistant.
SUPER BOWL XXXVII