The Colts recently announced that they would unveil a statue of Peyton Manning outside their stadium in October. You know you’ve arrived if there’s a lifelike image of yourself at your former place of work, unless there are candles and flowers around it, in which case, never mind.
Most of the statues I’ve seen don’t look like the people they are immortalizing. They’re not as bad as the courtroom sketches we see on TV newscasts, but let’s just say you probably wouldn’t recognize any of your heroes if they came to life, stepped off their pedestals and walked past you leaving a trail of bronze.
There’s a leering, psycho-eyed bust of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo at a Portugal airport that is so frightening it makes clown-phobic children want to cuddle up with Bozo. Last year, the Carolina Panthers honored owner Jerry Richardson with a stern, 13-foot-high statue that looks like something out of the old Soviet playbook. There is an angry panther on either side of Richardson in case the motherland’s work production begins to slow.
All of this got me thinking about who in Chicago sports will get statues in the years ahead. The Blackhawks, with three Stanley Cups since 2010, are the most obvious candidates, but not without debate. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane surely will find their way near the statues of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita at the United Center.
But what about Duncan Keith, who has won two Norris Trophies as the NHL’s top defenseman and a Conn Smythe Trophy for being the most valuable player of the 2014-15 playoffs? At a minimum, the seven teeth he lost in a 2010 playoff game should be bronzed. Doesn’t Joel Quenneville, second in victories among NHL coaches, deserve to be in the picture? How about owner Rocky Wirtz for turning the franchise around?
Maybe the Hawks should do a collage like the Bears did with a Soldier Field monument honoring team founder George Halas. The tribute also includes Red Grange, Sid Luckman, Bill George, Bronko Nagurski, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Walter Payton. Somehow, the Bears left Mike Ditka off the drawing board. Imagine that.
Brian Urlacher is deserving of some sort of artwork honoring his prowess as a Bears linebacker, but now that he has found hair, would he want to look at his bald self for eternity? And if Urlacher is honored, then what about Hall of Famer Dan Hampton? It gets tricky – and emotional.
I know there are Cubs fans who believe it’s a given that 2016 National League MVP Kris Bryant someday will get his own statue outside Wrigley Field. Some of them would donate money right now to make it happen. A small, besotted segment, which also includes some women, already is asking, “How do you capture the sparkle in his eyes?”
A word of warning (I’m good at this kind of thing): There were Bulls fans certain that Derrick Rose, the 2010-11 NBA MVP, would join Michael Jordan in bronze at the United Center. It didn’t happen, and I won’t bore you with Rose’s list of medical problems. No one has come close to getting a statue since Jordan, and that’s a big part of the Bulls’ on-court problems.
The Cubs wouldn’t miss a chance to give fans another reason to go to the ballpark and spend money. So how long before they cash in on the club’s historic World Series title last season with a statue outside Wrigley? The joyous team celebration on the mound after the last out would be a fine, if busy, work of art. People already come from hundreds of miles to get their photos taken with the Ernie Banks statue. Imagine how many more would want to take a selfie in front of a sculpture commemorating something that hadn’t happened in 108 years.
Think of all the piles of money … I mean free-agent signings … it could bring the Ricketts family.
If Jerry Richardson can get a statue for not winning a Super Bowl, Cubs president Theo Epstein should get his own mountain. Nobody turns down a monument, but I would advise Epstein to do just that. There is always post-statue regret. “I don’t look even remotely like that’’ has to be the leading first response at many of these unveilings.
Mark Buehrle deserves a statue at the White Sox’ ballpark, as does Ozzie Guillen’s tongue. As for anyone currently in a Sox uniform, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious candidate for future immortalization. Top prospect Yoan Moncada? Easy there, Hawkeroo.
Let me know if I’m missing someone from a Chicago team. And, please, no Sammy Sosa statues, unless they’re made of cork.