Since NBC announced it was selecting the Packer/Bears match up as their last flexible scheduling game and therefore the last game of the season, some of my esteemed SB Nation brethren have taken exception. Namely Cincy Jungle and Music City Miracles. Both rightly point out that the biggest reason is the potential last game of Brett Favre and his chance at one more playoff run.
The thing that people tend to forget is that Sunday and Monday night games are no longer for your die hard fans. They are events. You have formal dining parties centered around the game, where people are more likely to drink wine then pound brews and eat chicken wings. The league and networks are catering to them. Face it, we are all fans and they know we are going to watch any game they put on just because it is on, the hope is to draw those extra viewers. Certain things have to be present for this to happen. Firstly, a good story helps and Favre certainly fills that requirement.
Jimmy, from MCM, could rightly say Vince Young and his team's run for the play offs is a good story. The problem is the Titans have no faces to attach to that game. Honestly, people who don't watch football all that often wouldn't know Vince Young if he walked up to them and kissed them on the cheek and that leads to my next point.
Seriously, I didn't know what LT or Shaun Alexander looked like without their helmets until this year. When it comes to recognizability outside of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, Urlacher and Favre are tops with maybe Tiki Barber in there somewhere. These guys faces are used by the league to promote it. Companies line up to put their product next to these guys. Maybe that is a problem, but that is not for this discussion.
From a business standpoint saying Brian Urlacher meets Brett Favre in what might be his last stand when the Bears and Packers collide for the eleventy billionth time in this most storied rivalry or a young upstart and his team are primed for the playoffs as they go against the winner of three Super Bowls? I guess in the end it comes down to your preference, but do you bank your last game on people outside the know being familiar with Young? Maybe in a few years they can do it, but he isn't a draw yet.
The last point I want to make is this. This year the Bears have equaled high ratings, so of course they are going to put them on as much as possible. Think about this from whatever point of view you want. In the two 'test' games for the Bears, the Giants and Seahawks, the Bears have blown them out. In a should be route a rookie QB takes it to the Bears and they have to have a miracle second half by the defense and special teams and in their last televised game Hester runs back two. The point is when the Bears are on TV, weird things tend to happen and it is the talk of the water cooler the next day. No network is going to pass up that chance. Sorry, but Chad Johnson just isn't as entertaining anymore.
Remember 1 and 4 o'clock games are for football, evening games are for entertainment. Are there better and more intriguing game on? Absolutely, but there is hardly an easier sell than the Packers versus the Bears at historic Soldier Field.
At least that is how I see it.