Monday, February 13, 2012

Brian Cabral: Another Bear to Remember

Brian Cabral is one of the athletes discussed in Patrick McCaskey's personal chronicle, Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout published by Sporting Chance Press. The discussion below is based on that in Sports and Faith.

Value Off the Field

Cabral is one of those rare players who meant a great deal to the team off the field as well as on it. Cabral had high expectations. His father was the first Hawaiian to play football for the University of Notre Dame. He didn't make it to the Golden Dome, but he played for Bill Mallory at the University of Colorado and it worked out just fine.

When Cabral was a junior at Colorado, he heard All-Pro Cleveland Browns defensive end Bill Glass talk about playing football to honor God. Cabral was inspired to read the Bible and listen to other people who talked about their faith.

The Atlanta Falcons drafted Cabral in the fourth round of the 1978 NFL draft. After one season with the Falcons, Cabral was briefly on the Baltimore Colts and the Green Bay Packers, but essentially spent the rest of his career with the Chicago Bears. Early on with the Bears, he played outside linebacker alongside middle linebacker Mike Singletary. Cabral was switched to middle linebacker where he ended up backing up the extremely talented and durable Singletary for the duration of his Bear career.

It is not easy for a player who has competed at the highest level in each age group to be inactive during a game. It could not have been easy for Brian Cabral during his six-year Chicago Bear career. Although he contributed to the success of the Bears as they wound their way to the Super Bowl, he was not often a starter. Brian's football career had many twists and turns that he navigated with grace, but it was never easy.

In his backup role, Cabral kept his focus and his intensity. One Bible passage in particular was front and center for Cabral:
Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,”

Cabral and Mike Singeltary were roommates and close friends. Cabral influenced Singletary's spiritual development. Cabral career path required that he adjust--to change direction and his attitude.

According to Cabral he had to swallow his pride and give in to the "Lord's plan for me." Because Cabral couldn’t beat out Singletary as the starting middle linebacker, he tried to help the team in other ways. He led the special teams in tackles and became captain of those units. He also organized the team Bible studies and arranged for the chapel speakers before the games. Brian was intense and forthright and he kept learning about what success meant in God's eyes and not his own.

Cabral occasionally substituted for Mike Singletary as the Bears middle linebacker. When it was time to leave the Bears, Cabral left on a good note. And once he was gone, it was Singletary who replaced him as the Bears spiritual leader.

A few years after Cabral left the professional ranks, he became a coach at the University of Colorado where he is now in his 23rd year. He is an institution at Colorado where he has coached in several capacities. The change in his college plans from Notre Dame to Colorado worked out to his benefit in many ways. Considered one of the best developers of linebackers in the country, he has also been instrumental in scouting, recruiting, and mentoring Hawaiian and other Polynesian players.

Unlike many other Bear greats, Cabral is remembered for a different kind of spirit that he brought to the team.

Copyright Sporting Chance Press

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