Former Sandburg and Indiana star Dan Feeney is a member of the Chicago Bears. Photo courtesy of Indiana University
Sandburg grad Feeney ready to help Bears
By Jeff Vorva
For the second straight year, the Chicago Bears will look to a Sandburg graduate to try to keep prized quarterback Justin Fields in one piece.
Last year, it was offensive lineman Michael Schofield who picked up some game time with the team he grew up cheering for.
This year, Dan Feeney is the man. The 29-year-old former Sandburg and Indiana star and NFL veteran was traded from Miami to the Bears on Aug. 29 for a sixth-round draft pick in 2024.
“It’s kind of cool,” Feeney said about being a Bear at a news conference. “[Schofield] texted me and asked what was going on. It’s obviously cool to come back home. I got a text and a call from my parents, so that was really good.”
Schofield, who is a free agent as the 2023 season gets underway, had good things to say about the Bears and Fields, according to Feeney.
“He said he loved Justin and that Justin can do a lot,” Feeney said.
The hope among the Bears brass is that Fields will behind an improved line run less than he has the past two seasons. But if Fields sees a hole, he’s likely going to try to run and that will keep the linemen on their toes.
“When Justin runs, you have to block your guy forever,” he said. “He can make all the throws and obviously can make plays with his feet. It’s always being ready for anything. If he takes off, you try to keep up with him. That’s the biggest thing for an offensive lineman.
“You know he’s going to take off and run. You just keep trying to find work. You have to make sure you block somebody and make sure that at least one guy doesn’t hit him.”
The Bears open the season against bitter rival Green Bay at 3:25 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Soldier Field.
“I grew up hating them [the Packers], so I think I’m right at home,” Feeney said. “It’s really cool we’re opening up against them.”
Feeney comes to the team having missed just about all of the preseason, so will have to be a quick study to catch up. With the line experiencing a few injuries, he may get to play soon.
“You never really know with everything going on,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to come in here and learn the whole playbook and do what I can to be the best football player I can be.”
He said no one gave him specific expectations at Halas Hall.
“I don’t think it was written out in stone – I think it’s just coming here and adding depth to the offensive line,” Feeney said. “I’m another older guy in the room and I’m just trying to help young guys and maximize their potential.”
But if he gets called in for important work, he says he can deliver.
“I have a little more experience,” he said. “I’ve bounced around with a couple of teams – that’s just how the NFL works, unfortunately. I think I’m the same player as I was when I started and still have the same capabilities and abilities to do things.”
New voice at St. Rita
For 40 years, the public address announcer at St. Rita football games was Jim O’Boye.
But O’Boye gave the gig up after last season so he could watch his grandson play football for Plainfield North.
The new voice of the Mustangs is a bit louder.
Enthusiastic Joe Snaidauf, a 1984 St. Rita graduate, has taken over and he is not bashful about showing excitement for the Mustangs.
“My style is very energetic,” he said. “I think it’s high-energy, high-fun. It’s a combo like a beef and a Polish sausage in one bun. It’s professionalism and enthusiasm.”
Snaidauf, of Mokena, works for Orland Township but has held jobs both on camera and behind the scenes at television stations in Chicago and the Western Suburbs.
He said during stints with Chicago stations, he interviewed legends such as Michael Jordan, Mike Ditka and Sammy Sosa.
X marks the spot
Xazavian Valladay, a former football star at Brother Rice who played for Wyoming and Arizona State, has signed on the New York Jets practice squad as a running back.
Valladay was with Houston during training camp but was released in August. He was then picked up by Pittsburgh and released before signing with the Jets.
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