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Final game is "not your grandfather's Bears broadcast"


The Bears are calling an audible for their final preseason game in the form of a new approach to the television broadcast.

The final contest before the regular season is always atypical, featuring backups trying to make a roster spot in place of Week 1 starters, so the Bears opted to mix things up in the booth and try a new kind of broadcast.

The Fox 32 broadcast will feature Kyle Brandt and analysis from former Bears players Jim Miller and Corey Wootton.

Brandt — who the Bears contacted in May regarding being a part of the call — is a Chicago-area native and was a standout running back at Stevenson High School before playing for Princeton.

"I grew up a Bears fan," Brandt said. "I had the Walter Payton pajamas in the mid-'80s. Getting a call to do a Bears game, it was like Willy Wonka called and said 'Come to the factory.' "

Brandt will be making his debut in an NFL broadcast booth, but he's no stranger to covering the game and being in the spotlight. Brandt has appeared on MTV's "Real World: Chicago" and the daytime soap opera "Days of Our Lives." He also has an impressive resume in sports television. Brandt worked with sports-talk personality Jim Rome for nine years before landing his current role as a co-host of the NFL Network show "Good Morning Football."

The idea behind the three-man booth and a non-traditional play-by-play man is to give fans the chance to hear discussion and big-picture storylines heading into the regular season.

Brandt says he views his role less as a play-by-play announcer and more as a ringmaster.

"My plan is to make it a three-hour Bears broadcast, with Bears and Bills as the backdrop," Brandt said. "I'm talking any topic you can imagine with the 2018 Bears. Let's talk about Bears teams of the past, of the future, it's going to be a Bears radio show for three hours, and there's going to be a game going on.

"If Jim Miller is in the middle of a great story about the 2001 Bears, or if Corey Wootton is telling us what it was like to go 11-5 with the 2010 Bears, I'm not going to interrupt them."

Brandt knows there will be plenty of fun in the booth, but promises the old-school fan will enjoy the broadcast, too.

"It's not going to be a bunch of nonsense," Brandt said. "If you're a football geek and you're obsessed with the Bears, we're going to talk about the guys who are on the bubble. We're going to talk about the guys that need to make a tackle right now, or make a catch, or break a tackle to make this team."

Brandt will have the benefit of having two skilled analysts alongside him on the call to break down the finer points of the game in Miller and Wootton.

Miller, a former Bears quarterback, is in his seventh season calling Bears games and spent five seasons with the team between 1998-2002.

Wootton was a first-team All-Big Ten defensive end at Northwestern and played six years in the NFL, including four seasons with the Bears.

The NFL-vet tandem will offer a unique offensive and defensive perspective, respectively, and breakdown what it's like for players on the field trying to make a final roster spot.

"For players out there, there are jobs to be had," Miller said. "Maybe it's one play, maybe it's two plays, maybe it's the overall game, where a player can have one last opportunity to really show their effort to say, 'Hey, I deserve to be on this team.' "

Wootton also noted the importance of the final preseason game.

"When you look at guys that were undrafted free agents who have had great success in the league, a lot of these guys were fighting in this last preseason game for a spot on the team," Wootton said. "So I think you'll see some stars emerge from this game."

Throughout the night, the trio will look to engage with fans watching the game.

"We want to have fan interactions," Brandt said. "It's like a radio show. We will take social media contributions on the air from fans in real time. If I throw out a question like 'Who is the Bear your most excited to see this year?' Or 'Who is the Bear that needs to make the biggest jump this year?' … When I'm throwing it out to Jim and Corey, I'm also throwing it out to all of Chicagoland."

Brandt said he didn't know exactly how the call will turn out, but guarantees it'll be worth tuning in for.

"I can promise you (the broadcast) is not going to be boring," Brandt said. "This is not your grandfather's Bears broadcast and I think it's really cool that they're trying something different."