Ed O’Bradovich: Heart of the Warrior, the Chicago Way

by John Kass

October 6th, 2022

Whenever Chicago Way podcast co-host Jeff Carlin suggests a guest to talk about the Chicago Bears, I know what’s coming next: Ed O’Bradovich.

You want to know the heart of Chicago, the forgotten heart of the city?  Not the city of soy boys and clerks, and those karens determined to boss you, but the real Chicago, Old School Chicago.

Then listen to this episode of the Chicago Way podcast and hear the heart of Chicago for yourself. Just click on the buttons in the photograph at the top of the screen. Do I really have to tell you to listen up?

OB is the legendary defensive end on that great record-setting defense of the World Champion 1963 Bears. He did the dirty work always, taking on blockers so that later, middle linebacker Dick Butkus was free to make those spectacular  Hall of Fame tackles.

But now? OB makes great compelling radio for WGN-AM with his friend and Hall of Famer Dan Hampton. Their post game rants are must hear radio.

  Sadly, the truth is, the Bears basically suck. They’re scaring nobody. The last regime wasted the fans’ time. And now the Bears offense sits dead last in the league, in 32nd place, in most offensive categories and quarterback Justin Fields seems lost.

“They’re not coaching him,” OB tells us on The Chicago Way. “They’re not coaching him. Let me tell you something. Going into the (last) game (a loss to the Giants) of 32 teams in the league, in completions, Fields ranks dead last. On attempts Fields ranks 32nd in completion percentage. Total yards? Dead last. Passer rating where does he rank? Dead last. Houston we’ve got a problem.”

And it won’t be fixed any time soon.

The Bears aren’t going anywhere. Neither are other pro Chicago teams. The beloved Chicago Fire F.C. is a laughingstock, making a fool out of me. I’ve been a paid 4X Season Ticket Holder for 12 years, and they’ve sucked all that time. That makes me a Bobo supreme with a clown nose. The White Sox mercifully got rid of their Joe Bidenish manager. Looks like they’re cleaning house, but they might as well throw out any old vitamin supplements and geezer remedies.

The Cubs? Who cares? They’re not of my world. And still, I wish them well. We hope for the Blackhawks, because owner Rocky Wirtz has had much weight on his shoulders. Rocky deserves a break. But so do Bears fans.

There are those who say the Bears shouldn’t open up their offense and risk injury to Fields, and instead, hunker down in a shell, pluck some free agents for next season with available salary cap cash from this year, rebuild, and challenge in 2023.

I mentioned  this common wisdom to Ed O’Bradovich. His response convinced me I was right about him. He is the heart of Chicago.

“My theory is no,” he said, explaining that NFL football players risk everything, even death just to play the game, and waiting to ‘rebuild’ is morally wrong.

“Let me tell you something. In my 11 years f professional football, I had three teammates die. Willie Galimore and Bo Farrington in a car crash during training camp (Renssselaer, Ind. July 27, 1964).  And Brian Piccolo of cancer

“Three in an 1l-year span. Also, also we played against Detroit, I had an opponent  (Chuck Hughes) drop dead in front of me. 10 yards in front of me. He was dead before he hit the ground. Thank God he was the only one.”

No one knew that Detroit Lions player Chuck Hughes was suffering from heart disease and severe arterial blockage.

“Four people in 11 years. Three teammates and an opponent when I played,” O’Bradovich said. “My point being this: I’m not playing to win a Super Bowl two three years from now, It’s now. Every game you play is now or never. Why? Cause you can die on that field.  You can die on that field.

“And if it’s somebody’s thought, if it’s an owner or general manager, (thinking that) ‘Well, we’ll build here for the next two or three years,’ then what the hell are you telling your fans?  Where’s your belief in them, where’s your belief in yourself that you have to win? And there’s only 17 games. Not 162, not 90 some, not 162. You’ve got to get it right.

“And if You go in with that kind of thought in my mind, that we’re going to rebuild for next year or the following year? Boy I’d want to get the hell out of that organization,because I’m going to put my life on the line for 17 weeks, for someone to think ‘let’s go through the motions?’ that is a big ‘No.’”

I just violated all the rules of encouraging an audience to listen. I told you exactly what he said, but there has to be a written record of O’B saying what he said. And I trust that you’re of the old Chicago that would want to hear the passion in the man’s voice.

It’s one thing to read his words. It’s quite another to hear his words.

Tomorrow is promised to no one. I know this personally to be true. As you get older, you’ll understand.

And that’s why Ed O’Bradovich on this episode of The Chicago Way speaks to the heart of things. Old school. Brooding. Uncompromising. Unflinching. What we used to call a man. Not a whiner searching for a pity party. The warrior code, cowboy up, and get the job done and get your mouth shut when you’re done.

He’s right. The great athletes who are blessed and good enough to play at the highest professional levels don’t have endless time. They’re not clerks, or bankers. They’re not putting time in envelopes, saving it like cowards.

 They’re ballplayers with a warrior spirit. Every time they walk out onto the field, they risk everything. They know any game could be their last. But they’re not about hoarding the days. They’re about competing.

Thanks Ed O’Bradovich.

-30-