Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
Are there any former Bears in consideration for this year's Hall of Fame class?
Not really. Of the 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2016, only tackle Orlando Pace suited up for the Bears and that was just for one season in 2009. Pace is being considered for the Hall of Fame based on his play for the St. Louis Rams during the first 12 years of his NFL career from 1997-2008. The Seniors Committee finalist is Dick Stanfel, who coached the Bears' great offensive lines of the 1980s but is in the running for the Hall of Fame mainly because he was a standout offensive lineman in the 1950s with the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins.When was the last time the Bears earned a wildcard berth? Every time I remember them going to the playoffs it was as a division champion.
The last time the Bears made the playoffs as a wildcard was in 1994. They actually finished in fourth place in the NFC Central that season, but that's when each conference sent three division winners and three wildcards to the playoffs. As the No. 6 seed and third wildcard, the Bears upset the No. 3 seed and NFC Central champion Vikings 35-18 in Minnesota before losing the following weekend to the No. 1 seed 49ers 44-15 in San Francisco. All four times the Bears have made the playoffs since then—in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2010—they not only won their division but earned a first-round bye as one of the top two seeds. As a result, they played six of their seven post-season games over that span at Soldier Field with the lone exception being Super Bowl XLI in Miami.
Do you think the Bears will offer Marc Mariani a contract? He's a tough, gritty guy who can perform on the field but is also a great ambassador for the organization off the field.
I don't have any inside info, but based on how Marc Mariani stepped up and performed when given the opportunity in 2015, I imagine the Bears would want him to return in 2015 both to add quality depth at receiver and provide an option in the return game. With injuries decimating the receiver position this past season, Mariani made the most of his expanded playing time, especially in terms of producing first downs with key catches. Mariani played so well, in fact, that the Bears kept him as their slot receiver even when Eddie Royal returned from an injury late in the season. That speaks volumes about how the coaching staff felt about Mariani. Plus he developed a good rapport with quarterback Jay Cutler, and that figures to bode well for bringing Mariani back as well.