Look, I’m not going to lie to you.
I’m not excited about yet another Bears-Packers game. I know I’m not alone.
Whatever animosity or hatred I’m supposed to hold for Green Bay in the sports sense has, over time, become more of a tempered indifference. Again, I know I’m not alone.
As they have been for years, the Packers are one of pro football’s premier marquee franchises. They’re who the NFL sells and launders its product through. They mean everything to the powers that be.
The charter franchise Bears, on the other hand, are an afterthought. They’re a team that somehow finds new ways to humiliate itself and step on an endless wave of painful rakes every year. Sideshow Bob, eat your heart out. The Bears are in a place where they could be a premier marquee franchise. Inherently being the Bears, in a city that manages to give them unconditional love and angst, while having that history will always make such a reality possible.
But they’re not.
The Bears, at their best, are capable of these one-stop incredible playoff seasons with nothing to build on after the fact. They're a punching bag for the Packers at their worst, which seems to be their perpetual state. Green Bay talks about Super Bowls in December. They’re in January to win it all, without fail, almost every year. It’s a downright disappointment if they don’t win at least one playoff game. They are the absolute pride and joy of their little segment of Wisconsin. Chicago, on the other hand, talks about mock drafts in December. It dreams about new head coaches and new general managers who could, maybe, turn their ever-bumbling football team into something that isn’t a provincial laughingstock only a native Chicagoan could genuinely sympathize with. A Bears’ playoff berth might as well be cause for a parade, full stop. An appearance in an “In The Hunt” studio show graphic come December is their high bar of success based on the low standard they’ve established.
As a result, Bears-Packers is barely what any rational soul considers a rivalry anymore. I mean, doesn’t one side have to at least occasionally have more points when the clock reads all zeroes for it to be a real rivalry? Doesn’t one side have to sometimes make fewer mistakes en route to a victory for it to constitute something meaningful and antagonistic?
There’s no venom to Bears-Packers anymore. Only dread and silence and solemn sighs of frustration when the inevitable, a Packers win, manifests itself. I wish I could say Justin Fields was enough on his own to keep me intrigued in watching a potential beatdown in front of a national audience, but I’d be lying through my imperfect teeth about that, too. He’s undoubtedly exciting and talented and electric and fun and (insert any adjective), but as we’ve all born witness: The Bears have a unique brand of dragging down even the most dynamic people into quicksand. It’s an uncanny and unfortunate ability that heavens help me; they can’t seem to unlearn.
If there’s any football higher power (Lombardi? Landry? Halas?), perhaps Fields shifts this trajectory with those who wear the green and gold soon enough. Maybe change for the better starts immediately after this Sunday to make that shift a distinct possibility, too. But if Fields doesn’t make incredible magic happen against the Packers in his career, I’m not sure when the Bears, if ever, get to turn the tide and bully their “rival” again.
Windy City Gridiron picks Bears-Packers and every other NFL game in Week 14.
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