clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

"You are ridiculous!" -- An ode to Super Bowl XLI

The 2006 Bears didn't win a championship -- just our hearts. Reflections on that other Super Bowl in Bears history.

Donald Miralle/Getty Images

I was watching Full Metal Jacket Thursday night while keeping an eye on Twitter for Democratic debate coverage when Alex Brown shared a Instagram post from his old Bears teammate Pat Mannelly:

I stared wistfully at the photo as a wave of angry questions ran through my mind. Who the hell thought it acceptable for Dan Marino to flip the coin? The one man who beat us in '85? The guy who evolved into Peyton Manning, the very quarterback we were about to play? This was like when the pregame music for our playoff game in January 2002 against the PHILADELPHIA Eagles was "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky. Couldn't they SEE the impending disaster we were writing?

And speaking of Super Bowl XLI, why didn't we run more in the second half? Or at least in the 3rd quarter when the score was within a touchdown? And how did we lose the first ever Super Bowl of inclement weather to a dome team? And why? Why? WHYYYYYY?

While I grimly reviewed the moment frozen in Mannelly's/Brown's post, it seemed like every other Bears fan online was busy watching the 30 for 30 on the '85 team. Not me. Other than not having cable, my thoughts were not with the '85 team but the one that suited up 21 years later.

Suddenly I was soaked in nostalgia, which is an appropriate term even though it refers to a period of time with happy personal associations. That for me was Super Bowl XLI, despite its conclusion, and all of a sudden I was tweeting like mad, my mind bouncing between images of the game that I then pulled up and posted.

My all-time favorite Peanut Punch, executed flawlessly on an unsuspecting Bryan Fletcher....

The swing of high to low embodied by Devin Hester, from his opening touchdown to the image of him knelt and beaten in a confetti blizzard....

Special teamer Cameron Worrell's jubilant celebration with Hester in the endzone following Devin's return....

Chris Harris' interception of Manning in the 1st quarter with the Bears up 7-0, a play that -- combined with Nate Vasher's earlier near-miss INT -- confirmed my belief that we were about to unleash something unholy on the Colts....

Thomas Jones' 52-yard 1st-quarter dash that set up the team's second touchdown, still the 5th-longest rush in the game's history....

As my brain replayed the game, my memories grew more and more depressing, until I was smack in the midst of Kelvin Hayden's horrific 56-yard game-clinching pick six, the one I started on the couch, continued on my knees and ended with my head on the floor, holding 10 fingers above my head to the confusion of my fellow viewers, until the announcers mentioned the then-most-trusted Super Bowl barometer: "The largest deficit overcome in the Super Bowl is 10 points."

We trailed 29-17 after Hayden scored.

And that, as Carl Spackler said, was all she wrote.

Here at WCG we spend oodles of time talking about the legacy of the '85 Bears. Both Lester and I wrote about them in the past week, in fact. That team continues to dominate conversation about the 95-year-old franchise. And that's fine.

But one of the coolest things about the soon-to-be Super Bowl 50 has been the outpouring of love for Charles Tillmanwith Bears fansmedia, and his former teammates all rooting for Peanut to get his ring. It will be his, obviously, yet it feels in a way like it will belong to all of us, validation for our love of a player and a team that was a perpetual underdog despite the dominance delivered.

Peanut could have made the Pro Bowl in probably any season between 2005 and 2010. He did not. Instead he waited until 2011, followed by his amazing 2012 season and one of the rarest things in the NFL: a breakout year past the age of 30. Bears fans are territorial for Tillman because he was ours long before the country paid him his due. And with Tillman's fun-loving spirit, perseverance, and raffling of Super Bowl ticketsthe country is catching on.

I felt the same about Tillman as I did/do all of those Lovie-led Bears, and my dismay over the outcome of Super Bowl XLI was not just that we didn't win but that we didn't show the national football-lovin' audience why we were there in the first place.

My tweets Thursday night about that Super Bowl prompted both celebration and derision from my fellow Bears fans, with many finding a renewed opportunity to skewer Rex.

I wish they'd won. The players and coaches obviously do too, more than I or any of us could ever imagine.

But above all, I'm glad we had them to root for, glad they were ours, glad they gave us one of the most magical sports seasons I've ever had.

So yes! Long live the 2006 Bears. Or as Tillman put it: