In the 1998 film “The Big Lebowski,” Jeff Bridges’s The Dude accuses of his best friend, Walter Sobchak, played by John Goodman, of living in the past with his constant talk of his ex-wife and constant mentions of his conversion to Judaism.
Sobchak’s retort, “Three thousand years of beautiful tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax, you’re God damn right I’m living in the past,” could fit pretty well with Chicago Bears fans.
Pictures of Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka on the shoulders of teammates. Walter Payton and Jim McMahon embracing in celebration. Clips of the Super Bowl Shuffle. On and on.
Sure, it’s a fun trip down memory lane, but we’re now 35 years past the date. I’m 33 years old.
Moses led the Israelites through the desert for 40 years, according to the Old Testament before being able to deliver the Israelites to the Promised Land. Moses died just before the Israelites reached their destination.
Granted, he was 120 years old, but Lord I hope I don’t have to wait 87 more years before I get to see the Bears on the precipice of the Promised Land of a Super Bowl.
But when do we stop living in the past? When do we finally stop wandering the desert looking for the one who can deliver us to the Promised Land and actually get us there?
Bears fans have become, right up there with the Cowboys, Dolphins and Raiders fan bases, as living the most in the past.
And don’t get me wrong, I love the Bears’ history and I don’t think you can truly be a Bears fan if you don’t have an appreciation and knowledge of their history. You can appreciate history without living in it.
We can still mark the anniversary of their last Super Bowl victory, but each year it gets a little bit sadder. It’s like the ‘72 Dolphins popping their champagne; we get it, it was quite a feat, but let’s look toward the future too.
At a certain point the past should stay there. You can bring the ‘85 team out at halftime of a Soldier Field home game and let them take applause, but you don’t need to interview one of them for your defensive coordinator position.
Now, there is hope out there. I watched the conference championship games this past Sunday came away feeling optimistic.
This year’s playoff field features a lot of teams that have walked the same abyss as the Bears. The Buffalo Bills have spent 24 years since Jim Kelly retired trying to find their quarterback and get back to deep postseason runs.
The Browns have spent most of their history, but especially post-Bernie Kosar, searching for their quarterback and spent 18 years just wanting to get back to the postseason.
These teams have been searching and have many well-documented failures but have perhaps found their signal callers of future.
And that’s not even getting to the ultimate quarterback abyss: the Kansas City Chiefs. This isn’t yet another reminder about the Bears’ 2017 egregious misevaluation, but rather some hope for our own future.
The Chiefs haven’t had a true franchise quarterback since Len Dawson was their full-time starter in 1972.
Kansas City spent 50 years in the abyss, wandering the desert with Bill Kenney, Steve Fuller, Steve DeBerg, Todd Blackledge, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac, Damon Huard, Trent Green, Tyler Palko, Matt Cassel, past-his-prime Joe Montana, Brodie Croyle and Alex Smith.
They had some good years in there, including a couple deep postseason runs, but they were still looking for their guy. Now they’ve got him and they have a shot at a second straight Super Bowl win.
As a Bears fan, I want that. I crave it. Deeply. And I know that it will come. Some way, some how, some day the bad luck will run out and whether by accident, mistake, coincidence or actual good scouting, the Bears will find their signal caller too.
I don’t know if Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are going to get it right for the Bears, but I do know that we’re due for our franchise quarterback.
It’s been too long. But let’s not live in the past, let’s look to the future.