A momentary detour from Cardinals baseball into Chicago Bears football …
During my 10-year break in following baseball after my internship with the Cubs (read here for more), the Bears were my sports passion. I became a Bears fan during the 1985 season, because I was went to college in DeKalb, 60 miles from Chicago – there was no choice but to be a Bears fan. When I lived in the Chicago area after college, I went to quite a few games and continued doing so even when moving to the Quad Cities. For several years in the mid 1990s, my friends and I bought a half-season ticket package the Bears used to offer. My friend Jan and I even went to the Bears training camp in Platteville, Wis., a couple of times. The last Bears game I went to was in 2001 – it was a Bears-Packers game, and I only remember the year because we had a more sober perspective on seeing the Sears Tower off in the distance from our seats in the south end zone.
I’ve continued following the Bears even as baseball became my passion again, but there’s only room for one real love. With the Cardinals season ending in early October, however, I’ve had more time and energy for following the Bears this season. When they lost three out of four in October, they unfortunately reminded me too much of the 2010 Cardinals – underachieving, inconsistent. But since their bye week on Halloween, they’ve turned it around and been impressive. And now we’re here, with the biggest game in Chicago sports history just over four hours away.
Of course I want the Bears to win, because they’re my team but also because it’s the Packers they’re playing. I hate when the Packers succeed, and I say this with one of my best friends, Linda, and my Cardinals fan uncle Jim being life-long Packers fans. I’ve been anxious about this game ever since I heard a prediction on the radio more than two weeks ago from a Bears experts that this would be the match-up in the NFC title game. Even as last Sunday’s game went on and I was thrilled about the Bears win over the Seahawks, my stomach was already tying itself up over the prospect of today. Linda and I were texting each other and had similar thoughts. Those knots have only increased throughout the week.
Of course this is the dream game FOX and football fans were hoping for, and I’m sure the TV ratings will be sky-high. Twitter will no doubt be crazy this afternoon. And I am this combination of nervous and anxious and I’m-n0t-sure-what-to-call-it. The Bears-Packers game three weeks ago was so intense for me, with only a Packers play-off berth on the line. Now, everything is on the line. I really don’t care about the Super Bowl. I just want the Bears to win TODAY.
One of my Facebook friends has a prayer in his status at the moment invoking the spirit of Walter Payton to be with every Bear today. I always remember Walter when the Bears and Packers play, and remember his divine intervention during the first game after his death in November 1999, when a last-second blocked field goal by Bryan Robinson gave the Bears a 14-13 win in Green Bay – the first time the Bears had beaten the Packers in years. Just like 11 years ago, whatever it takes for the Bears to win today is what I want.
Bear down, and JUST WIN!!!