I'm 31 years old. Bears fandom was largely engrained in me as a child.
I have newspaper clippings from the day after Super Bowl XX, which just happen to have my kid-style crayon scribblings on them. (Mom-Dad-WHY WOULD YOU LET ME DO THAT?!?!)
I was born in Illinois, but when we were little, we moved to the place that Hell makes fun of - Wisconsin. So naturally, my second grade school picture is me wearing a Bears sweatshirt. (Also featuring the appearance of the "lasers" background. Those lucky enough to have witnessed this background know of its greatness.)
As a little kid, I was spoiled. I got to witness the solid-to-spectacular play of the 80's Bears, even though I didn't necessarily understand the science and hard work put into schemes or game-planning. I didn't know how much these guys had to work at what they were doing, long hours of watching tape or lifting weights. I just knew that they were out there, they were doing something that looked fun, and that (in my 8 year old mind) I could totally replicate out in the yard with my friends.
I'll be honest-as I grew a little older, and the 90's Bears took hold (blech), my fandom fell off a little bit. I played video games, I hung out with friends, but the allure of watching the team I like get worse and worse, while the team I hated looked better and better (Favre. *shudder*) I hit high school in the mid-nineties, and was interested in playing football. However, after a bout with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of ten, doctors advised that I probably shouldn't play. (Running track? Totally cool, though.) They figured that I might want to have knees when I hit the age of thirty, and they were half right. I have knees, but they aren't always in the greatest of shape.
So that kept me away from the game too, and stunted my learning process. Sure, I played Tecmo Bowl. Yes, I played Madden. I even played Mutant League Football. I could probably figure less than ten times that I've ever played as not the Bears in an NFL video game. (Because, I mean, we all played as Bo Jackson.)
And to be fair, I really did learn a lot from playing Madden. It's silly at first, but it taught me a lot about basic zone schemes and route patterns. I began to apply that to what I saw when I saw games, and started to read more about the subject.
I really got back into football being an every Sunday thing in college. My roommates and I would watch, and slowly, it became ritual. We learned more off each other, we saw other teams because we aren't all fans of the same team, and it became a camaraderie thing. I learned the game itself more, and that allowed me to be the full-fledged NFL expert I am today. And with that, of course, came...
I found WCG nearly five years ago. I lurked for a while, then started posting, then finally answered one of Dane's posts about being a contributor. I did that, he liked it, or at least feigned interest, and I was off and running. Over time, I've apparently earned the reputation of a sarcastic jerk who is just itching to ban people. To that, I say...well, you're probably right.
Being a part of this community has opened me up to an entirely new level of fandom. In turn, this has made me more well-rounded in my knowledge. Not to brag, but I'm even sometimes asked my opinions regarding matters of these topics. (And yes, before anyone checks, that link takes you to questions I answered shortly before Tom Brady and the Patriots destroyed the Bears, at home, in the snow.)
"Well that's great, Kev. What's the point here?" has probably popped into a lot of your minds at this point. We've all got different paths that brought us to our fandom today. In these times of twiddling thumbs, I wanted to share my story. Now tell us how you got here. We'll compile excerpts of some of the greatest stories to share with the entire community.