PRO FOOTBALL | BEARS

Bears' Spaeth keeps it in the family with first TD catch

2011-09-11T22:00:00Z 2011-09-12T15:50:10Z Bears' Spaeth keeps it in the family with first TD catchBy Al Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
September 11, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO | Quick, what popular Bears tight end wears No. 89?

Not Mike Ditka. You're supposed to say Matt Spaeth. The "popular" part, he's working on.

The former Steeler caught his first touchdown pass as a Bear -- a 1-yard toss from Jay Cutler -- in Sunday's win over Atlanta, then promptly ran into the south end zone at Soldier Field and gave the football to an aunt sitting in the stands.

"I had seen them earlier and knew about where they were," Spaeth said of his family members. "And then once I went over there, I was having a tough time finding them.

"All of a sudden, I saw my aunt stick her head in there and I slipped the ball to her. I don't know if someone wrestled it away from her or not. We'll see what her ball security is like."

His mother had also been sitting there, but left for better seats. Her loss.

"She'll be all right," said Spaeth, noting he saw several No. 89 jerseys in the crowd of 59, 808.

"There were probably four or five '89' jerseys that were actually worn by my family and the other 10,000 were Ditka's, so I just had the find the right ones," Spaeth said.

The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Minnesota native caught two passes on the day for seven yards. Setting up his TD grab was Devin Hester, whose 53-yard catch on the play before put the ball at Atlanta's 1.

It's been a long time since a Bears player actually gave the ball to a fan in the stands after scoring.

"That was so special," Spaeth said. "When do you get the opportunity knowing your family is sitting right there with such good seats -- and then to be able to score in that end zone?

"I went over and apologized to everybody on the offense afterwards for not turning around and celebrating with them 'cause that's the kinda guy I am. But it was one of those unique circumstances where you got family right there."

All that was missing was the "Lambeau Leap."

"No, no, no. I don't think I have 'hops' like that," Spaeth chuckled.

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