Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never been much of a football fan. (I am, however, a lifelong Cubs—and baseball fan). My dad played football (a star fullback on Aurora East’s team—and its captain, back in the day). He would talk about the greats of that era: Mike Ditka, Gayle Sayers, Dick Butkis and coach George Halas as if they were old friends, returning each fall to our living room. But I was oblivious to it, except for paying great attention to that “really cute” Joe Namath (he of the Jets) and Roman Gabriel (he of the LA Rams). But I never understood the downs and the sacks and the touchbacks. (And knowing that the Bears didn’t really have any really cute players back then).
I married a Bears fan, so I learned a little about football—enough that I was never in danger of becoming a Sunday afternoon football widow. I got to the point where I could follow the plays without constantly asking for translation (and annoying my tolerant husband). And when I was pregnant with our first child, the Bears went to the Super Bowl. The 1985 Bears were really something, and even the football-semi-illerate that I was couldn’t help but be excited by the superhuman Walter Payton, punky QB Jim McMahon, brilliant Mike Singletary Refrigerator Perry, and the entire rest of Mike Ditka’s team. That year was a never-ending football party that champion-starved Chicago sports fans drank up like water in a desert.
Then when my youngest child got to middle school he started to play football and I was equal parts enthusiastic and terrified. He was quick but on the offensive line—the smallest kid on it—so I lived in constant fear of his imminent pummeling. I wasn’t unhappy to see him (slightly) injure his wrist his freshman year in an early game. He left sports for theatre (whew, much less dangerous). Now a sophomore at Big 10 school University of Illinois, he sits in the bleachers cheering on the Fighting Illini instead of getting beaten up (and beaten) on game day.
So I know enough to know about rivalries. And today’s game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears is the stuff of legends. Some have said that this game is even more highly anticipated the February 6 Super Bowl itself (at least here in Chicago—and likely in Wisconsin, too).
It’s a blood rivalry; a family feud played out in the cold and snow of an Upper Midwest winter. The weather is perfect for this game; as I write this, it is four degrees out there. Neither team is a stranger to icy, Arctic air, and the game should be fast, furious and exciting (if only for the players to stay warm). I don’t know a lot about the history of this rivalry, only that it exists, and that it’s as nasty as the Cubs-Sox rivalry in the baseball world. But unlike the unlikely potential some day for a Cubs-Sox crosstown World Series (which would surely test my marriage), my husband and I are both rooting for the Bears. We’ll sit cuddled in the warmth of our living room Laz-Z-Boy chairs, drink soda, eat pizza watch the whole thing play out on our HD television.
Now, if the Pittsburgh Steelers should happen to win their game—and the Bears win theirs, we have a problem. My daughter’s husband is from Pittsburgh; and “Terrible Towels” were even part of the wedding festivities last year when they married. Talk about family feud! I hope it doesn’t happen; not sure I can bear it, so I’m steeling myself for the possibility nevertheless.
Enjoy the game! And here’s a little hoping that the 2010 Bears have a little of the 1985 Bears’ mojo: