Reflections on Bears-Packers; Reflections on Life
Well, friends, here we are. Bears vs. Packers, Sunday afternoon, Solider Field, Chicago, Illinois. One million years of history, 181 games in the rear-view mirror, a never-ending stream of Canton-inducted ghosts on each side. The game is at our fingertips, and it feels every bit as big as it should. This is a Very Important Sporting Event, and those don't come along too often. You can live your entire life and probably still keep count on the fingers of your left and right hands. Yes, Sunday is a big deal.
If you've found this blog, it's likely that you consider yourself an enlightened sports fan. It's a pretentious term, sure, but it feels like an important one, especially in this city. A dichotomy exists among us, with "Thome strikes out too much" serving as the calling card for the other side, the sports radio callers who think the difference between wins and losses relies more on Chicago Tough than talent and execution. Yet, when faced with something as grandiose as Bears-Packers, with the freaking Super Bowl on the line, none of it matters. We're all in this together, just as it always should have been. On Sunday, just win, by any means possible, and discount everything else. Lazy columns from millionaires don't matter, "Horry Cow" doesn't matter, Keith Bogans doesn't matter. This game rests solely in our blood, not our brains. Forget VORP, this is pure, raw emotion. Division among a group signifies weakness; Sunday requires all hands on deck.
Bears vs. Packers, a Super Bowl berth to the winner. I can't help it: just typing that triggers reflections about life. To this day, I've taken only one real family vacation: we went to Disney World when I was 12; we shoved five straws into one reusable cup of soda and drank out of it for four days. Walt Disney really raped you on soft drink prices back then. Every other family vacation was to Platteville, Wisconsin, home of Bears training camp. It sounds like a joke, because it is funny, but that's why the best comedy can't be written. Some kids go see the Grand Canyon or Times Square; I watched a sweaty Alonzo Spellman work on pass rushing drills. Annually. I'm telling you, this shit is in our DNA.
Bears-Packers has me thinking about other stuff, too. Like the first time I can ever remember my dad swearing, when the Giants took Tyrone Wheatley a few picks ahead of the Bears' selection in the 1995 Draft. It gives me flashbacks to The Worst of Favre, most notably that fucking 99-yard touchdown pass to Robert Brooks under the ready-for-primetime lights of Solider Field. It has me thinking about walking around the streets of my college apartment in the South Loop after the Bears beat the Saints to go to the Super Bowl in 2006, the last time we were in this situation. Snow was falling; there wasn't an individual alive who wasn't passing out high-fives with reckless abandon. It was electric; the only atmosphere I've ever been apart of that surpasses it is was the Obama Rally in Grant Park. Heavy stuff, and truly rare air.
Bears-Packers. It has me thinking about all of the people in my life who I've talked about the Bears with who I'll never see again, from every school I ever attended to every job I've ever held. It's cheesy, maybe even fucking lame, but this is what we're dealing with here. The world won't end if they lose; we won't all live forever if they win. It's just football. But if we are to waste all of this time, all of this energy, and an unheralded amount of breath on football over the years, we may as well do it once more, especially now that it really counts.
This is important. That's all I'm trying to say. I'm not the only one who feels this way -- realize that, whether you're with me or whether you don't really give a shit. People care about this. Sunday will be emotional, one way or the way, in a way that life rarely is.
I don't see any way in which the Packers come into Solider Field and steal a win. The Bears will find victory, no matter how cheap, blessed, or kooky it is. This is the single biggest sporting event of my life, no hyperbole. Win and you win forever; lose and it is eternal winter. We won't ever get this moment back. I think the Bears realize this. That's why they're going to beat Green Bay.