Well Bears fans, we knew this was coming. It’s going to be a long season. With Sunday’s devastating 26-0 shutout against the Seahawks, our lovable losers move to 0-3 on the season.
But week after week I show my Bears pride, despite the fact that a loss is probable. I don my Bears apparel, schedule my day around the Bears game and hope for the best. I read John ‘Moon’ Mullin’s previews and analyses, listen to press conferences throughout the week and even sometimes belt out the “Bear down Chicago Bears” anthem.
But, as we Bears fans know all too well, there hasn’t been much to warrant singing the fight song this season.
I’m sure I could dedicate an entire blog to ranting about what the Bears are missing, what they’re doing wrong, and why it sucks to be a Bears fan right now. But instead, here’s why I am, and always will be a Bears fan.
- I came into this world as a Bears fan.
On September 23, 1991, the Bears, 3-0 at the time, welcomed the New York Jets to Soldier Field for Monday Night Football. Led by the all-time great, head coach Mike Ditka, the Bears scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to tie the score, 13-13, advancing to overtime play.
In the meantime, my mom was incredibly pregnant with me and due any day. “I just know it’ll be tonight,” my dad claims to have said. But he’s a die-hard Bears fan and the game was getting intense. Baby Elizabeth would have to wait.
Chicago’s quarterback, Jim Harbaugh (yes, the khaki pants-wearing, current Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh) ran the ball in from the Jets’ 1-yard line for the game-winning touchdown, clinching a 19-13 Bears win.
Maybe it was the excitement of the game, or maybe the time was just right, but hours later my parents rushed to the hospital and I was born the next morning. A Bears win on Monday Night Football and a newborn baby to follow – quite the victory.
- The Bears have the richest history in the NFL.
From Papa Bear George Staley Halas and the Decatur Staleys to the age-old Bears-Packers rivalry, there is so much history to be celebrated. The T-formation that led to a 73-0 win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VIII in 1940; Brian Piccolo’s inspiring and tragic story; the everlasting legacy of Walter ‘Sweetness’ Payton; the 1985 Super Bowl Shuffle; the coach, Mike Ditka; the Monsters of the Midway, including Dick Butkis, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher; Virginia McCaskey’s family history; even Devin Hester’s record-breaking returns. The list is never-ending. The stories and moments are some of the greatest in football history. The Chicago Bears tradition and legacy is nearly impossible to top.
- Nothing beats Soldier Field and Chicago.
Those Pantheon-like columns, with a spaceship dropped on top. It’s a weird combination, but there’s nothing like Soldier Field. The rowdy, packed tunnel that leads up to the stadium, typically with the Bucket Boys busting a beat; the drunken twins that sit next to us year after year, one passed out in his seat, the other yelling vulgarities constantly; the players running into the stadium through the giant Bear head with smoke and fireworks clouding the field; “There’s a timeout…” “WHERE?” “…on the field.” “OOOOOH!”
And don’t even get me started on Chicago. Is it possible to be in love with a city? I love the midwestern calm paired with the big city chaos. The skyscraper-filled Loop juxtaposed by the wide-open Lake Michigan. The food, the entertainment, the opportunities, the teams – I love it all.
- There are, in fact, a few positives from this season.
Despite the fact that our season seems to be in a downward spiral, the Bears have done a few things (somewhat) right:
>> Matt Forte
He’s keeping our offense afloat. Going into Week 3, Forte ranked third in the NFL for yards from scrimmage and third in rushing yards. He currently totals 279 rushing yards on 59 attempts, one rushing touchdown, and 69 receiving yards on nine catches.
As of this season, Forte ranks No. 2 in Bears history in yards from scrimmage (11,776) and rushing yards (7,980 on 1,876 attempts), and fourth in rushing touchdowns (42) and overall touchdowns (58). He also ranks second in franchise history in catches (452) and seventh in receiving yards (3,796).
Two weeks ago, the Bears’ defense gave up five touchdowns against the Cardinals. This week, the defense allowed one in Seattle. Coming into Week 3, the Bears were the only team without a sack on the season. In Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, Jarvis Jenkins and Pernell McPhee combined for four sacks total. Small improvements, sure, but we’ll take what we can get.
In his first season as a head coach, John Fox turned the Carolina Panthers around from a 1-15 record in 2001 to a 7-9 record in 2002. Just one year later, the Panthers went 11-5, finished first in the NFC South and advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII where they took on the Patriots, just narrowly missing the championship title after a 32-29 loss.
Fox has experience with broken teams, and he’s brought them back to pose as a legitimate threat to the league. In his 13-year career, Fox has a 119-89 (.572) regular season record, six division titles, six double-digit win seasons and seven playoff appearances. He has an 8-7 (.533) postseason record as a head coach, along with three conference championship game appearances leading to two trips to the Super Bowl (XXXVIII with Carolina in 2003 and XLVIII with Denver in 2013.) He seems good on paper. Now we just need him to produce some results with the Bears.
Ok, so maybe there aren’t a ton of good things going on this season, but…
- We can always hope for the future.
I fully acknowledge that it’s a rough time to be a Bears fan, but true fans never give up hope. I will never forget in 2006 when the Bears made it to Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Fla., against the Indianapolis Colts. Devin Hester opened up with a 92-yard kick return to score a touchdown on the first play of the game. Even when it went downhill from there, resulting in a heart-breaking 29-17 loss, we still hoped.
Since then, there hasn’t been a ton to be excited about, but Bears fans never give up hope.
This is a rebuild season, and we can even see from today that John Fox and General Manager Ryan Pace intend to build from the ground up. Today the Bears traded Jared Allen to the Panthers and Jon Bostic to the Patriots both for sixth-round picks in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Look at it in a positive way: a losing season means a higher draft pick, which means better players, which could (ideally) result in a winning team.
So next Sunday, when most people are counting the Bears out and expecting the worst, I’ll still wear my jersey, still watch the entire game, and still root for my team.