Chandler happy to be Bears’ backup |

Chandler happy to be Bears’ backup

Rick Chandler, Tahoe Daily Tribune correspondent

He’s a grizzled veteran now, immediately noticeable by his gray hair. Could Chris Chandler really be that old? Well, the 14-year NFL veteran is 37, looks a little older, and plays much younger.

Chandler has a spring in his step because training camp opens for the Chicago Bears on Thursday.

“I’m really enjoying myself,” said Chandler, who led Atlanta to a 14-2 record and a berth in Super Bowl XXXIII in 1998. “I’m as healthy as ever and I’m really excited about going to camp. Chandler signed a three-year, $4.5 million deal with the Bears during the offseason, ending a five-year stint as the starter for the Atlanta Falcons, where he was clearing the way for Michael Vick.

“I realize I’m not coming into Chicago to be the starter, and I’m fine with that,” Chandler said. “Jim Miller is our starter, and I’m there to help out anyway I can. If I’m on the bench then that’s a good thing, because it means we’re winning.”

Chandler has been a fixture at the American Century Celebrity tournament, and is indeed an accomplished golfer. His best showing at Tahoe was in 1997, when he finished tied for seventh overall at 216, nine strokes behind winner Rick Rhoden.

That was the year that his father-in-law, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie, tied for second place with a 210.

“It’s just not the same without John here,” said Chandler. Brodie, 66, suffered a stroke in 2000, and although he is recovering, he cannot play competitively. “I just talked to him yesterday, and he’s doing very well. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s doing well with his rehabilitation, and is feeling really good. He laughs all the time.”

Brodie was a huge inspiration for Chandler early in his career.

“He always said that the best thing about playing football was beating their guys with your guys. Team concepts are very big with him, and that made an impression on me.

“That’s something that is missing to a certain extent in today’s game.”

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