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Hardcore Fans: Enjoy! You Earned This!

You kept the faith, and through all of the hard years, you never ever forgot to BEAR DOWN!

Seattle Seahawks v Chicago Bears
 Chicago Bears Bearman Don Wachter watches the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on September 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Bears defeated the Seattle Seahawks 24-17.
Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

I gotta admit, it’s been brutal to be a hard core Chicago Bears fan for the last half decade.

We have had to live with watching everything from frustrating inconsistency all the way down to blistering incompetence.

We have had our hope raised only to be crushed time and again. From watching Lovie’s last team of old, hurt but talented players fade, though the hope and then absolute embarrassment of the Mark Trestman years... to see bad Jerry Angelo drafts followed by bad Phil Emory drafts, it was heartbreaking.

We trotted out coordinators like Mel Tucker who was absolutely horrible, and “Mr. throw my players under a bus” Aaron Kromer, both of whom stayed on LONG after it was apparent they should have been fired.

Through all of this, the enigma that is Jay Cutler both thrilled us with unbelievable talent and appalled us with astoundingly careless regard for ball security...

We had characters that, while immensely talented, were flawed teammates who caused distractions off the field and in the locker room. One player famously left town every week to do a national TV show, and that was OK with management. Another showed up to practice drunk, threatening everybody in sight.

Moving on into the John Fox / Ryan Pace years, we knew we were in full-rebuild mode, and while Fox was at least able to get control of the locker room, Ryan Pace mostly whiffed on his first draft and we were all thinking “oh, no, not AGAIN!”

Pace send problem players packing, but he didn’t do a very good job of replacing their on-field talent. Fox took control of the locker room and brought the program back into focus, and in his best move as our coach he brought in Vic Fangio to run the defense.

Meanwhile, the offensive coordinator carousel turned, with the Bears seemingly installing a new system every year... or in the case of Dowell Logains, doing whatever it was he had them do (I’m not really sure to this date what that was, it sure wasn’t an offensive system...).

We watched the wins dwindle: 10-6, 8-8, 5-11, 6-10, 3-13, 5-11

Just.

Brutal.

But here you were, with us. You rooted. You supported, You shared your thoughts and feelings and frustrations, but yet you stayed with your team. You kept the faith.

Then something truly changed.

The Chicago Bears organization “went all in” with the drafting of potential franchise quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

Following one last year of offensive dysfunction as John Fox & company proved not to be the people you want developing a young quarterback (not to mention a huge talent deficit in the receiving corps) the Bears turned the corner.

The defense, however, continued to develop under Vic Fangio, ending the year as a top-ten squad full of very young talent.

Ryan Pace admitted he had made mistakes, fired John Fox, got the “necessary but not glowing” contract extension that he needed to hire a new coach, and then he hired Matt Nagy.

Nagy worked his tail off and did what most Bears fans would think the unthinkable just a year before... he convinced Vic Fangio to stay in Chicago and continue developing the already powerful Bears defense.

After another strong draft by Pace (it’s hard to argue about the quality of his last two drafts), the Bears came into the season with some question marks (like how good would Mitchell Trubisky be) but one major hole... outside pass rushing.

Then, Khalil Mack happened.

With an entire team of starters under 30 years old (most WELL under 30), 8-3 has happened.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing is locked up, nothing is set in stone. We still have 5 tough games to go this season and so far, we haven’t won anything but games. Still, we’ve seen VAST improvements on both sides of the ball, and we won’t have a losing season, no matter what! There’s a long road yet to go, but we are playing relevant football in December, baby!

You deserve this year. You deserve right now.

You deserve to enjoy the Chicago Bears return to relevance late in the season more than all of the “fair weather” fans who are going to start to jump on the Bears bandwagon now that we are competitive in the playoff race...

It will be that much sweeter for you, and for me, because we never lost faith, we never gave up, and we never quit.

As hard as it was, no matter how much crap we took from the other NFL fan bases, as much as it sucked, we never quit.

So here’s my shout out to all of you long-time Windy City Gridiron readers, my fellow contributors and, frankly, to myself.

It’s easy to be a “fan” when everything goes right for your team. We all know who the REAL fans are... because we’ve been together every day during the dark times, and we never once forgot to BEAR DOWN!