Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The NFL called an audible Tuesday, allowing the Bears to let Jim Cornelison sing the national anthem Sunday before the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field.
“American Idol” winner Lee DeWyze of Mount Prospect originally was scheduled to perform the anthem. But Cornelison, who sings the anthem for the Blackhawks, has been embraced for his rousing renditions during his three appearances this season at Soldier Field, including before the Bears’ 35-24 victory Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. His performance has created a buzz locally and nationally, with one clip on YouTube nearing a million views.
“It’s about the fans, and they love the anthem when Jim does it,” said Scott Hagel, the Bears’ senior director of corporate communications. “This is the biggest championship game ever, so we want it to start right.”
The newest season of “American Idol” premieres tonight on Fox, which is broadcasting the game. DeWyze was the show’s winner in its ninth season. He will perform during halftime instead.
Cornelison is in his fourth season as the Blackhawks’ full-time anthem singer, although he has performed regularly at the United Center since 1996. He has a background in opera, and he has performed with Placido Domingo and Zubin Mehta.
According to his Blackhawks bio, “He’s known as a heroic tenor for the dark color of his voice but ability to sing in a tenor range.”
Not surprisingly, he has won some awards.
“I’ve been absolutely blown away by how supportive the Chicago fans — hockey and now football — they’ve been so supportive of me,” Cornelison said Tuesday on WGN-AM (720).
Bears make a move
The Bears signed quarterback Matt Gutierrez to a reserve/future contract.
A former rookie free agent who signed with the New England Patriots out of Idaho State in 2007, Gutierrez spent time with the Bears in training camp before being released in favor of veteran Todd Collins.
He also spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tickets go fast
The limited number of NFC Championship Game tickets made available through Ticketmaster were sold in less than a minute.