So it is with a pair of Chicago athletes who have made headlines recently in the local media: Milton Bradley and Johnny Knox.
As we bid farewell as a sports community to the Cubs' Bradley, one of the worst free agent signings in Chicago sports history, we welcome with open arms (and a back-page blowout in the Sun-Times) Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox.
He's everything this city loves in an athlete: a hard-working underdog who outperforms his on-paper abilities. He's humble, he's excited to be here and, most importantly, he helped our team win a big game.
Bradley, meanwhile, represents the me-against-the-world mindset that will sink any athlete who signs with a Chicago team.
Bradley accused Cubs fans of being racist, said he felt hatred in the outfield and blamed the collective negativity at Clark and Addison for keeping the Cubs championship-less for 101 years.
Knox, meanwhile, gets nervous before games and was in awe playing at Soldier Field Sunday in front of more fans than he played in front of his entire senior season at Abilene Christian College.
Brad Biggs spoke with Knox's college coach Chris Thomsen. "I guess it's all about getting your opportunity," Thomsen said when asked about Knox's early NFL success. "Maybe it surprised me his opportunity has come this early. It doesn't surprise me he is doing well. He is a tremendous worker. he has a tremendously positive attitude."
Every athlete who puts on a uniform for a Chicago sports franchise has an opportunity. Johnny Knox has the same opportunity Milton Bradley was afforded when he signed with the Cubs last summer: to play professional sports in one of the greatest sports cities on Earth. So far, it would seem Knox is doing everything right.
Sure, it's early. He could fizzle, wake the Soldier Field boo birds and draw our ire. But for now, he's a hard-working rookie who can do no wrong. Not to mention his "tremendously positive attitude," which makes him The Anti-Milton.
Johnny Knox is the break Chicago sports fans needed to cure their Bradley-era hangover. He and future athletes fortunate enough to play in this market would do well to follow suit.