Gabe Carimi, the 1st round draft choice of the Chicago Bears, throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field on May 1, 2011 in Chicago.
Excuse us if we're getting too excited about a draft pick, but Gabe Carimi is exactly what the Bears needed.
Not only is he an offensive lineman who has the skills to shore up a line that allowed the NFL's most sacks, but he is interesting, can talk to the media without problem and will give the Bears a personality they haven't had in some time. Consider:
-- He has all the basics you want in a lineman. At 6-foot-7, Carimi towers over everyone on the Bears staff except the offensive line coach, Mike Tice. He has the accolades that befit a first-round pick: Outland Trophy winner given to the best college interior lineman, consensus All-American and Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. But he didn't need the awards to prop him up.
-- He spent draft day making a presentation to his professors at the University of Wisconsin so that he can graduate with a degree in civil engineering. He took barbs from teammates over his demanding major and asked classmates to hold study sessions at night so he could balance football and school.
-- Though he grew up on the dark side of the Illinois-Wisconsin border, he had no problem joining the good side. “I had my errors of my way and I sinned and repent, so I’m good now,” he said. “I saw the light.”
-- Speaking of repentance, he is a practicing Jew who has already checked the NFL schedule to see if it interferes with Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of repentance that asks Jews to fast for the day. “I already looked out over the next 15 years, and Yom Kippur doesn’t fall on a Sunday,” Carimi told NFL scouts.
-- His overwhelming size started at birth. In fact, he was 24 pounds by the time he reached 4 months.
-- Carimi is an avid Twitter fan who made "Anchorman" jokes the night he was drafted.
-- He was fascinated with building blocks as a boy, and that hasn't ended. During his senior year of high school, he built his parents an elaborate queen-sized bed, and built himself one when he got to Wisconsin.
-- Carimi learned those building skills early, when he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity as his Bar Mitzvah service project. Because of his size, they didn't realize that he was too young to work.
-- When he had to head to Halas Hall to meet with Bears staff and media after he was drafted, instead of taking the plane the Bears would have surely sent, he made the two-hour drive to Lake Forest. Coincidentally, Lake Forest is where the Bear-to-be was born.