Grossman should heed the paths of sub-par Chicago performers before him

By Allyson Kloster

Former Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman will talk with Cincinnati Bengals management on Thursday about becoming their backup QB. If that doesn’t pan out, word on the street is that the Detroit Lions may be interested in him.

As Grossman looks to rebuild his career and save his reputation, he could take a few pointers from former Chicago athletes who bailed from the city after performing below expectations.

Cedric Benson

If Thursday’s talks with the Bengals go well, Grossman and former Bears running back Cedric Benson could be teammates again.

With Benson as the voice of experience, having suited up with the Bengals last season, he can teach Grossman his key to success: You don’t actually have to get better to rebuild your reputation. All you have to do is act as if you are rejuvenated and on the rise, and people will sign you to a two-year, $7 million contract, as the Bengals did for Benson last week.

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Sure, Benson ran for a career-high 747 yards last season. But it took him 214 carries to do so. Each time he touched the ball, he went 3.49 yards … which is only .09 yards more than his 2007 average with the Bears. Outstanding. That merits an excited response from Cincinnati, no?

At the very least, Benson’s “success” will show Grossman that a cruddy team is more likely to sign you than a good team will. But Grossman seems to already know that. Although it’s probably not his choice, he is doing the right thing by looking into employment with terrible franchises. That way he’ll have fewer expectations to fulfill, since the Bengals have little to lose if Grossman chokes.

Eddy Curry

Similar to Benson, Eddy Curry can show Grossman that it is possible to surpass insurmountable expectations to become a valued component of a team, even if your stats don’t improve much.

Heralded as “Baby Shaq,” it seemed impossible for young Curry to fit into the size-23 Shaq shoes the NBA forced him to wear. Subsequently, the 6-foot-11 Curry went on to become a decent scorer (11.8 points per game with the Bulls) but couldn’t play defense, only grabbing 4.9 rebounds a game. Sure enough, he never lived up to expectations during his four-year run with the Bulls.

But when the New York Knicks traded for him in 2006, perhaps the Knickerbockers thought if Curry was given time to fill into his shoes while in Chicago, he’d be primed for New York, where he’d become a force to be reckoned with.

But what they got was the same Curry, for better or for worse.

Tyson Chandler

After being drafted 2nd overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2001 NBA draft, Tyson Chandler and Brian Skinner were traded to Chicago for the Bulls’ only good player, Elton Brand.

Brand went on to become one of four active players to post career averages of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, while Chandler went on to a career average of 8.2 points and 9 rebounds per game.

Needless to say, Chandler never fulfilled expectations. But when he broke free of Chicago, he boosted his stats and became a better player as a New Orleans Hornet.

Instead of taking a step backward after he was temporarily traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder (only to get sent back after failing his physical), Chandler responded by averaging 13 points and 12 rebounds in his next three games with the Hornets.

Unlike Curry and Benson, by constantly improving even while fighting through injury, Chandler is proving to be more than just empty potential. Hopefully it’ll last.

I suggest Grossman take note.

Allyson Kloster is a senior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]