Chicago, Illinois is one of the greatest sports cities in the country as it is home to the Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, and of course Da Bears. Chicago has been blessed to have been graced by some of the greatest professional athletes to play their respective sports over the years. Men like Michael Jordan, Walter Payton and Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, are legends in the sporting world. Another thing Chicago is famous for however, is taking a sports figure that has captured the City’s imagination, and turning them into sports icons.
Men like Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus, Harry Caray and to some extent Sammy Sosa before controversy found him were able to transcend their roles of mere professional sports figures, and become almost mythical figures; sports royalty if you will. The list of players, announcers, and coaches, Chicago has lifted to that lofty status seems to grow every year, and after Sunday’s win over the Seattle Seahawks, I believe a new name is on the verge of being added to that famous list. Robbie Gould, whose 49 yard filed goal in overtime sent the Bears on their way to the NFC Championship game, has caught Chicago’s attention and could be well on his way to attaining that coveted icon status.
With its blue collar history, the one thing Chicago loves is an underdog. Placekicker Robbie Gould definitely fits that billing. He was actually working a construction job after going undrafted upon graduation of Penn State University. He was signed out of free agency by the New England Patriots prior to the 2005 season, but was eventually released without ever really getting a chance. He was then signed by the Baltimore ravens only to be released again after three short weeks. With his career seemingly over before it ever really got started, Robbie was given new life when he was signed by the Chicago Bears in October of 2005. He began to quickly make a name for himself, and earned the fans’ admiration by kicking a game winning field goal against the New Orleans Saints later that year.
This season Robbie was able to kick 26 consecutive field goals shattering the team record held by another beloved Chicago kicker and icon, Kevin Butler. As Robbie’s star has begun to rise so has the admiration and accolades from fans and players across the NFL. Robbie was named the Special Teams Player of the Month for October this season, and was voted to his first Pro Bowl. He kicked the game winning field goal against Tamp Bay to help the Bears get home field advantage throughout the Playoffs, and with his kick last Sunday against the Seahawks, which happened to be the second longest overtime field goal in NFL Playoff history, has his team one win away from the Super Bowl.
Robbie Gould is equally as amazed by his success. This is evident when he commented, “A year ago I’m pounding nails. Now I’m hitting game-winning kicks and going to the NFC Championship Game.”
With his success this year, Robbie Gould has captured the imagination of the Chicago Bears’ fans. With his game winning field goal against the Seahawks, he has the Chicago faithful ready to hand over the key to the city. If he should find himself in a similar situation such as kicking the game winner in the Super Bowl, he would not only cement his name on the list of Chicago sports icon, he would probably never have to pay for another meal within Chicago’s city limits.