The supremely confident Chicago Bears are no more. Relegated to trivia status as the team Peyton Manning beat, the Monsters of the Midway set themselves up to fail. Whether by virtue of poor leadership on the field, as in Rex Grossman, or comments off the field, the Bears weren’t in the game despite the two point differential at the half.
The outcome to savvy students of the game was apparent when the conference championship games were decided. Manning, despite being the golden boy and a lighting rod for his advertisements, is unquestionably the leader of his team. The Bears may or may not look to Brian Urlacher — and if not Brian, no one else stepped up.
Leaders don’t look at great teams of the past and say, with all certainty, that it’s “our” time. Instead they compliment those who came before and set out to talk on the field through play, assuring their own legacy in a legitimate manner. Some of the Bears obviously got sick of the comparisons to the 1985 Super Bowl Champions. Tough. They played together and won a ring.
The Colts, despite their Baltimore roots, didn’t have the same situation. However, if they were dealing with a previous winner, you can bet it would be handled with class and dignity. The Steelers, Packers, Patriots, Cowboys, and Raiders understand the need to accept past glory and build on it. Chicago didn’t and thus, instead of having two titles to celebrate, they are now .500 in Super Bowls. Elite status in the Super Bowl era is out of reach for the foreseeable future.
Experts will harp on Grossman and poor offensive play; there’s room for that to be sure. Rex played as bad as expected, the offense was at best inept and to be fair the defense looked soft. Having said that, it’s my contention the Bears lost this game due to an inability to focus on winning, poor on-field leadership, and a lack of respect, despite the lip service, to the former Bears on whose shoulders this current group stands.