Illustration: Dean MacAdam

Poor Kyle Orton. He was just a 22-year-old kid from Iowa who was thrilled to be wearing a Bears uniform when fate thrust him into the starting quarterback role this fall. History suggests this is akin to marrying Henry VIII: since 1992, the Bears have lined up 21 different men behind center, a dazzling bunch who have combined for only 207 touchdown passes (the Packers’ Brett Favre alone has approached 400 in the same span). But what’s remarkable is the misguided optimism that heralds the arrival of each new victim. Here, the dismal career arcs of a sampling of Young Kyle’s predecessors.|

Before Result After
Jim Harbaugh
“I think I am one of the best now at the quarterback position,” he boasted before the 1992 season. ” . . . I think I am good enough to take this team to a Super Bowl.” Harbaugh led the Bears to last place, got Mike Ditka fired, and effectively ended an era. “When the player knows more than the coach, you have a problem,” Ditka said after Harbaugh called an errant audible. “I’m not going to put 47 guys’ careers in the hands of somebody who thinks he knows more than I know.”
Steve Stenstrom
“Steve’s mechanics are right on the line with Joe [Montana],” gushed Stenstrom’s coach at Stanford, the three-time Super Bowl champ Bill Walsh. “So when you watch him, you’ll notice that.” On his first play from scrimmage in 1996, Stenstrom broke his ankle. He eventually lost his job to a washed-up Dave Krieg, who was 38 and on his fourth team in four years. “There is a new verb in the language,” Bernie Lincicome wrote in the Chicago Tribune: “It is ‘to Stenstrom.’ It means to delay making a decision until the world ends, or you are sacked, fumble or throw an interception.”
Rick Mirer
“He’s got to know his teammates, coaches, and fans have confidence in him,” said head coach Dave Wannstedt before the 1997 season. Threw zero touchdowns in his first six games and lost all six games. Fans booed him mercilessly; Wannstedt benched him, and he was cut before the 1998 season. Lincicome: “Mirer is to quarterbacking what nose hair is to coleslaw.”
Moses Moreno
“Moses-I just have the feeling watching him-is a guy who makes things happen,” said Wannstedt before the 1998 season. In his first start, Moreno sprained his ankle and ended up on crutches. “When he sets to throw, he has a peculiar habit of dropping his right shoulder,” Skip Bayless wrote in the Tribune. “It’s as if he’s throwing straight up out of a foxhole.”
Cade McNown
“The good thing about Cade is that he has no vices,” said Gary Crowton, the Bears’ offensive coordinator. Before his Bears tenure was over, McNown had alienated his teammates by not preparing for games, blown off a charity event, and gotten himself barred from the Playboy Mansion. The Springfield State Journal-Register referred to him as “one of the biggest failures and most despised sports figures in recent Chicago history.”
Chris Chandler
Bears GM Jerry Angelo said that Chandler-so prone to concussions he had earned the nickname “Crystal Chandelier”-would remain healthy due to the Bears’ quick passing attack. Chandler got knocked out of four of his first seven Bears games. “He could be brain-dead,” remarked Glen Kozlowski, a former Bear. “Honestly, [he] could be scrambled for life.”
Henry Burris
“Whatever the situation is, I’m ready to step in and do my job,” Burris said during his first year with the Bears. The former Saskatchewan Roughriders standout was given a chance during the final game of the season. He went 7 for 19 with 78 yards and four interceptions. “I can do this,” he said afterwards. “I know I can.”