Being a sports fan sucks sometimes - actually, usually a lot - because it seems like even the best teams come up short of winning a title. In any given year all fanbases except one go home unhappy, yet we come back year after year.
It's the nature of sports, and when you cheer for any team for any amount of time you're going to get your heart broken. You're going to have moments when you say "Why do I put myself through this?"
And, while some fans have more heartbreaking moments in their team history than others, we've all been through it. The moments of glory make up for it. Unless you're a Cubs fan. Or a Browns fan. Or a Jaguars...okay, you get it.
The Bears, like any team, have had moments of glory and moments of gloom.
But what is the worst gut-punch moment?
This is more of an open-ended question than a poll or quest to find which moment was the lowest or worst. They're all awful.
A gut-punch can be a single play or entire game. It usually involves going from happy to sad in a split second. Maybe you feel the victory is in hand when a single mistake costs the team everything. Maybe it's a whole game where things just snowball out of control, or even a momentum-shifting play that kills things for your team.
The Bears have had many moments like these over the years. Here are just a few nominees:
-Charles Martin body slams Jim McMahon: One of the lowest-blows of the Bears-Packers rivalries, when the defensive end body slammed the Bears quarterback during a November 1986 game. McMahon was done for the season, the Bears' chance at a Super Bowl repeat went way down, and McMahon was never the same again.
-The Instant Replay Game: It was a meaningless regular season game between the Bears (5-3) and the Packers (4-4) in 1989. The Packers won on a touchdown with under 40 seconds to play that was overturned when the referee ruled that Packer QB Don Majkowski was not past the line of scrimmage when he threw the pass as was called on the field. The Packers won 14-13 and the Bears would win only one more game that season.
-Rex Grossman's 2005 preseason injury: In 2005 Rex Grossman was still untapped potential - he had a 3-3 record - as injuries had robbed him of the chance to grab a hold of the starting job. The defense had come into its own under Lovie Smith and fans believed that, with Muhsin Muhammad and Thomas Jones, they were a quarterback away from a Super Bowl run. Then Grossman broke his ankle against the Rams in a preseason game. Kyle Orton ended up playing well however, so in hindsight it's easy to forget how much of a gut-punch this was at the time.
-Grossman's first INT, Super Bowl XL: Super Bowl XL is more or less forgettable other than Devin Hester's opening kick return TD. The game itself was unremarkable in the history of Super Bowls, at least. The Bears seemed to have a solid hold on the game early but the Colts grabbed momentum, and once Grossman threw a pick-six to Kelvin Hayden it was over. Bears fans felt it; after that the Bears never sniffed the endzone and it was the last score of the game.
-2010 NFC Championship Game: Jay Cutler's injury deflated the Bears and launched a controversy.
-1989 NFC Championship Game: The game that killed Bear Weather in a lot of people's minds. San Francisco pummeled the Bears at home 28-3.
-Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb: The freshest gut-punch in fans' memories, the play that sunk the 2013 Bears playoff hopes. It still makes me sick thinking about it. It's so vividly engrained in my memory, seeing Cobb streak past Chris Conte.
I'm sure that there are many other moments I'm missing. Feel free to chime in in the comments with the gut-wrenching moments you can think of that I might have missed. I hope that the older fans can remind us of things that some of us younger fans might not know about, or that have long been forgotten about.
What is the most gut-wrenching Bears fan moment you remember?