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Bears Top Draft Pick Comes Home

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Carimi Comes Home

Charles Cherney, AP

Chicago Bears first round draft choice Gabe Carimi holds a Bears jersey after during an NFL news conference at Halas Hall on Saturday, April 30, 2011 in Lake Forest, Ill.

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Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice loves the team's 1st round draft pick Gabe Carimi.

"What a great start to the offseason," he said, beaming from the Halas Hall podium.

An Outland Trophy winner for the Wisconsin Badgers, Carimi isn't the most athletic offensive tackle, but "he's gotten better every year, he's gotten tougher every year," said Tice.

And he's big: 6 feet, 7 inches and weighing in at 315 pounds; just the way Tice likes his linemen.

On June 13, 1988 Doctors at Lake Forest Hospital delivered Carimi, then just nine pounds, 12 ounces.

"He didn't lose his birth weight after he was born like most newborns" Alayne Gardner-Carimi laughed. "Instead he gained a pound a week, and was the first 18 pound, 8-week-old at Great Lakes!"

Gabe's father, Dr. Sanford Carimi, was stationed at the Naval base at the time, and even as a physician himself couldn't believe his newborn's girth.

"We passed him around family parties and laughed when people wanted to hold him," the proud father recalled. "Their arms would drop down (to their knees) he was so heavy."

Nearly 23 years later, Carimi's size is paying off as a first round draft pick for the Chicago Bears.

He'll get paid a lot of money to help protect Bears quarterbacks who were sacked 56 times in 2010.

It's no surprise the 4th text message he received after hanging up the phone with the Chicago Bears on draft night was from the Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler.

"I'm looking forward to blocking for him," Carimi said. "I have a hunger to try to succeed at whatever I do. That's the objective to be the best Bear offensive lineman I can be."

And while the drive from his home in Cottage Grove, Wisc., to the Bears' headquarters in Lake Forest took all of two hours, it took all of about five minutes after the draft before Gabe Carimi was trending on Twitter in Chicago.

If Carimi can do the job he'd make a name for himself. He said he'd like to change his nickname from "The Jewish Hammer" to "the Bear Jew".

Bear fans are smiling. As Lt. Aldo Raine from "Inglourious Basterds" would say, "we're all tickled to hear you say that."

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