Fun fact: I was seven years old the last time – oh yes; the ONLY time – the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl. My lone memory of that day is standing with my younger sister at the front window of my parents’ house in a northern suburb called Morton Grove and watching in awe as my dad and his drunk friends set off fireworks in the front yard.
My dad doesn’t even really drink. But if there was a time for a lifelong Chicago sports fan to go apesh*t…I mean, other than the 2016 World Series (FLY THE W!!!!)…it was that day.
Fun Fact #2: I have lived in the Philadelphia area almost as long (17 years) as I lived in the Chicago area (21 years), and I married an Eagles fan. There he is in the attached picture, disrespectfully photobombing me as I celebrate the arrival of my amazingly awesome Official Bears Sideline Hat on Saturday afternoon.
In my/his defense, my hubby is also a Cubs fan. That’s how we got together. First date: Cubs-Phillies at The Vet. Wedding: Cubs-themed, in Chicago. They lost that day; LOL. We drove out to Cleveland together for Game 7 of the aforementioned 2016 Series, and we both agree, that was the best night of our lives.
Anyway, I’m writing this blog because the Bears have awakened from a too-long slumber – read: they really sucked for a really long time – and returned to the NFL Playoffs, and today, we have the sh*tty fortune of facing the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Up until now, being an out-of-town – I like to say “expatriate” – sports fan has never been a big deal for me, because my teams aren’t traditional Philadelphia rivals. We don’t play in the same divisions. We haven’t been battling each other for any championships. I covered Philadelphia sports, including the Eagles, in the newspaper job that brought me to the area, and it wasn’t difficult to develop a deep respect for and kinship with this sports market and its fans.
Chicago is equally passionate about its pro teams. I grew up with sports in my blood, with the Cubs, Bears and Bulls (sorry; we weren’t a hockey house, but I absolutely do root for the Blackhawks) looming extra-large in my daily life.
Other than a couple drunk jerks yelling “F*CK YOU!” as we passed on the concourse at the Vet back in the day – me in Cubs gear, of course – or random people in the local park or at work saying “Boo” to my Bears hattery, I have never had a beef with Philly fans. I don’t even know what it’s like for my team(s) to face Philadelphia team(s) in an important game.
Oh, wait. We did beat the Eagles, 19-16, en route to the Super Bowl in 2007. Why is it so easy to forget that season? Sorry, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Peanut Tillman. In my defense: Rex Grossman. And I’ve lived a lot of lives and killed a lot of brain cells since then.
I don’t begrudge Philly its success, but at the same time, it’s a really big freaking deal for the Bears to be in the playoffs – especially given the relatively low expectations we had coming into the year – and I’m not one to sit around being quiet and reserved when I’m excited about my sports teams. Ask my own family, who shushed me numerous times last weekend, at that same old house in Morton Grove, because I was too loud, even for them, in my yelling at the TV during the Bears-Vikings broadcast.
Like most instances in life, when you put yourself out there, you risk being smacked down. Like most instances in sports, the outcome of this situation is completely out of my control, and I’m going to have to get up tomorrow, go out in the world and eat sh*t if the Eagles beat the Bears. There’s nothing in the world I can do about it.
God help us if this game comes down to Cody Parkey vs. Jake Elliott. (Sound of football hitting upright…)
I was joking with some friends on Twitter that I won’t have any pictures to use for my social media profiles if the Bears lose, because I’ve never taken a picture sans Bears (or Cubs) hat.
My solution might be, using this picture of my insanely adorable 6-month-old nephew, who got a Khalil Mack jersey for Christmas and is rocking it today, even though his parents are raising him a Patriots fan up in Boston’s Back Bay.
There is no way anyone can feel sad, or mad, or have anything in their heart but joy, looking at that kid.
He’ll be too young to remember it if the Bears DO reach The Big Game this year…which is probably good, because if there is a Super Bowl party at my house in Newtown, PA, next month, and I actually care about the outcome, my dad and his friends circa 1985/6 have NOTHING on the drunken shenanigans that’ll come to pass down here.