My Friends,

Proving once again that their arrogance is only surpassed by their stupidity, one of the higher-ups in the Bears organization authorized a two-tier structure for the awarding of NFC Conference Champion rings. For those of you who are unaware of the story, David Haugh's column in today's Chicago Tribune is a must read.

Unquestionably there are times when a smaller ring makes sense, but in the case of an NFL team I can think of only one: the ring that goes to the women who work for the franchise. The full-size hunk of metal would look ridiculous on a ladies hand, but everybody else should get the Big Boy.

Conveniently, Ted Phillips (one of the few non players to get a full size ring) was out of the office and unavailable for comment, but this smacks of a decision made higher up than him. Read: The Miser. He's first person I pick in that organization dim-witted enough to not even consider that this is a public relations debacle waiting to happen. Remember The Miser telling Dave McGinnis that his staff didn't need to know about the two-year buyout provision The Miser wanted in the four-year deal McGinnis was supposedly getting back in 1999?

Or maybe it's mom who put the kibosh on the oversized bling. As it says in the article, Ginny personally opted for the "simpler model," probably because in her case the full size job would have pinned her gnarly, liver spotted hand to the floor, ala Maris Crane. But don't ever forget that Ginny is the old man's daughter, who at 40 years old watched as her dad stiffed the team after their 1963 championship while the packers rewarded their players with color TVs and mink coats for the wives in gratitude for their two previous crowns. And there are the members of the 1985 squad that Haugh mentioned in today's column, who "seethe" at not getting a pint-sized replica of the winnerís trophy.

The real problem here is that several guys who were instrumental in putting the 2006 Bears together will think that the owners consider them second tier functionaries. And maybe the Miser family does, but that's being shortsighted. The bling is the thing! It's been widely noted that Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis likes to fiddle with his Super Bowl ring while talking to prospective players. The ring is a recruiting tool. Can you imagine the look on the face of pro personnel director Bobby DePaul when a potential free agent signee asks him if that's his high school ring on his finger? Or college scouting director Greg Gabriel being asked if he's wearing his daughter's sorority ring? If the GM is the only guy getting the Big Boy, these guys ain't stayin'.

And their staff will follow them out the door first chance they get.