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Emma: Jimmy Clausen Gets Chance To Rewrite His Story

By Chris Emma-

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) -- Jimmy Clausen came to Notre Dame as the golden boy. He showed up at the College Football Hall of Fame in a stretch limo, flashed four high school championship rings and spiked that blond hair like he was in a '90s pop band.

At the time, Clausen represented the promise for a Notre Dame program that had gone years without relevancy. But that very moment has since represented Clausen and a football career filled with disappointment.

Clausen never resurrected Notre Dame. His record in South Bend was 16-21. His only visits to the College Football Hall of Fame will be as a tourist. In a way, he became a punch line. The NFL hasn't been kind, either. Clausen made 10 starts as a rookie with the Panthers in 2010, going 1-9 with nine interceptions and just three touchdowns that season. He hasn't started a game since, receiving just spot duty as a reserve.

But Clausen is getting another chance. In the Bears' mess of a 5-9 season -- with a failing regime and coach Marc Trestman's decision Wednesday to bench Jay Cutler -- Clausen can prove himself. It's a move that even surprised Clausen, but it's one that he's been longing for.

Awaiting him Sunday will be the Detroit Lions, who have the NFL top scoring defense.

"It's a chance to showcase your talents," Clausen said.

A call from Trestman came in early June, and Clausen found a new home and opportunity. After taking Clausen in the second round of the 2010 draft, the Panthers pulled the plug quickly, opting instead for 2011 first overall pick, Cam Newton. By now, Clausen is familiar with the bench that awaits Cutler.

However, Clausen can count on the support of Cutler. The two share a friendship that's helped Clausen develop in his new scenery. While injured last season, Cutler served as mentor for Josh McCown. Now, the scenario is different, but his guidance remains strong.

"I'm just trying to relax him and help him with what he needs," Cutler said.

Added Trestman: "The weight of the world will not be on Jimmy Clausen."

The concept that Clausen could start over Cutler without a catastrophic injury would have seemed crazy when he signed. Heck, it's still bizarre now. Regardless, it's a big chance for the reclamation project to find his footing.

"It's just a great opportunity for me," Clausen said. "A lot of people don't get second chances to showcase their talent in the National Football League. Coach Trestman and this coaching staff have confidence in me to put me out there on Sunday. I've got to get ready to go."

Should Clausen succeed as the Bears' starter in these final two games, his offseason will be interesting. He's surely an option for Chicago, which faces a vastly uncertain future as an organization, but other teams will be interested, too -- that is, if he performs well.

Sunday marks a new day for Clausen, a rare second chance to begin rewriting the story of his football career.

Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.

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