Bearly Watchable (January 23, 2011)

“Somebody needs to tell the Bears this isn’t a preseason game.”

– Terry Bradshaw, NFL Fox Analyst, 3:30 PM today

At the risk of alienating my rabidly “Bear Down” family any further (please stop the bitter posts on my Facebook wall!), I must acknowledge the Bears miserable play in today’s NFC Championship Game. But I will not say I told you so.

The final score of the home advantage matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 21-14, really doesn’t tell the story. If there are kudos to be handed around, they are reserved for the members of the Bears’ defense, who kept the tally board from reflecting the lopsided mess in play that really occurred. Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher had a particularly effective day. A solid golf clap is also owed to third string quarterback Caleb Hainie, who honestly got the Bears back in it when it seemed all but impossible.

Hainie’s surprisingly able play does not excuse the drastic mistakes in coaching that occurred, underscoring my season-long opinion that, division championship notwithstanding, it is time to show Lovie Smith the door. The inexplicable time-out call in the fourth quarter, on a huge fourth down and three yards? Also, by playing Hainie before the conclusion of the third quarter, benched alternatives Jay Cutler and Todd Collins lost their eligibility to return to the game. What if Hainie had been injured?

Not that we missed either one of the former sorry asses. I expected nothing from second stringer Todd Collins, and with two near picks in a matter of minutes, I was not disappointed. But you Jay Cutler – you. Everything Denver Bronco fans said is 100% accurate. You are a sissy, a quitter and a quintessential pouter. When you left the game shortly after a pathetic first half with the flimsy “knee” excuse, I wanted to call Jo the Super Nanny to slap the puss off your face before you sat for the rest of the game on the naughty bench. After two unbelievably lackluster seasons, I wonder if we were really not better off with Rex Grossman, the Bears’ 2007 Super Bowl QB. We had more money at least.

As a Chicago native, a passionate sports fan, and an adrenaline addict, I am deeply saddened by the Bears ejection from post season play, no matter what my critics may believe. In this case, if not others, I am terribly sorry to have played the Cassandra-like spoiler to the conclusion of the Bears’ idiosyncratic ascent.

But if I am being honest and gracious, the better team won. A couple less concussions for Rodgers and the standings in the NFC North may have looked very different. The Bears had the luckiest run of any organization this season. I will go to my grave saying it. I wish the Green Bay Packers well in two weeks. It may make today’s debacle sit easier if it was dealt by the hands of the Super Bowl champs.


Somewhere Between Slim and None (January 8, 2011)


This weekend, the NFL Playoff series gets underway. Although I always enjoy a competitive, well-played match no which team is on the field, there is really only one club whose run I will follow. As a lifelong Chicago resident, I was born and raised to be a citizen of Bears nation.

Da Bears, with their 11-5 record over the course of the season, are fortunate enough to enjoy the week off before they must face the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints or Seattle Seahawks at home next week. Fans of my hometown team better hope the organization’s 17-week lucky streak continues, because if so, we will be rewarded with a matchup against Seattle. With a exceptionally mediocre record of 7-9, the Seahawks are the first team to win a playoff berth with a losing tally.

Go Hawks! Because I’ll let you in on a little, poorly kept secret: stellar win ratio aside, the Bears are not a very good team. I have taken a lot of heat from friends and family over repeated insistence that this is so. It is the curse of the righteous to remain unpopular.

Don’t believe me? Watch the tapes of Week 1, when the Bears won against DETRIOT by a hair (granted, the Lions are finally on the upswing) due to the reversal of a last-second touchdown. Otherwise, they collectively stunk up Soldier Field for a full 60 minutes.

But anyone can have a bad week right? Then let’s discuss Week 3, when the Bears narrowly bested the Green Bay Packers, after the Aaron Rodgers-led team managed to set a clubhouse record of 18 penalties. Don’t think the penalties played a role? Rodgers threw for 316 total yards to Jay Cutler’s lackluster 37.

But there’s more. Should I mention Week 14’s pummeling at home by the New England Patriots in the middle of a blizzard? Or perhaps last week’s disgusting season finale, once more against Green Bay, where the Bears appeared to have been replaced by members of the TFL (Tiny Football League).

If all else fails to convince, consider that Jay Cutler, Chicago’s obnoxiously overpaid Quarterback, has been sacked no less than 52 times this season. And before you go feeling sorry for the oft-concussed player, laying the exclusive blame on the Bears’ miserable, porous, offensive line, keep in mind that almost every other QB in the NFL knows to get rid of the ball in 10 seconds or less (an eternity in football time).

But hey, what’s good for Chicago sports is always good for me, and I will be front and center next week, hoping for the best, yet fearing the worst. In fact this season reminds me an awful lot of the 2006-2007 one, when the Bears earned a mystifying trip to the SuperBowl. Once there, Payton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts ran all over us. Just sayin’.


I Hate Brett Favre (August 19, 2009)

I have never been a Green Bay Packers fan, and I never will be. As a lifelong Chicago Bear, I have done my duty to repudiate cheeseheads in green jerseys for as long as I can remember.

However, I have plenty of respect and understanding for the angry Packer fans everywhere today. Is this guy a tool or what?

I have watched this clown “retire” for the last two NFL seasons. The first of these decisions came with a bucketful of manly tears, and vows to withdraw from football before the tarnishing of his legacy (a Vicodin addiction and a complete lack of SuperBowl titles). The body was falling apart, even if the spirit was willing, blah, blah, blah.

Of course that was all shit, and you may recall that last year, old Brett (emphasis on the old) played for the NY Jets. I liked Favre’s work in There’s Something About Mary, and found him otherwise benign, but toward the end of his brief tenure in New York, my disinterest turned into a burning rage.

For the last few years, I have participated in a football pool each season run by my friend Wayne. It is called Pick-A-Winner (or PAW for those in the know). Basically, all the players start the season fresh. You may pick one winning team, and only one, from the week’s matchups. The tricky part is that once you have selected a team, you may not reuse them again. So if you are lucky enough to continue surviving each week, you must select your winner from a diminishing pool of available teams. It’s a science. You don’t want to use all the good teams upfront. So, in 2008, Boop found herself in the driver’s seat, heading toward the last week of the NFL season with only two competitors to outwit and outlast.

Favre had had a pretty good first half with the Jets, and even after he started to come apart at the seams a bit, I took a look at what I had left to play. In a move that I now wish wholeheartedly I could undo, I put my misplaced trust in Brett Favre for the final game, Jets vs. Dolphins. If I could emerge out the other side with a New York victory, I would be $1500 richer the day before Christmas. What a touching story right?

Wrong. As succinctly stated by Don Banks at Sports Illustrated. com:

“Favre won some big games with New York last season, particularly those back-to-back road wins at New England and Tennessee in Weeks 11-12, but in the end, the 2008 Jets will be remembered for losing four of their last five games and collapsing from an 8-3 Super Bowl contender to a 9-7 non-playoff finisher. Favre threw nine interceptions and two touchdown passes over the course of those final five games, and in the most ironic twist of all, was beaten head-to-head by former Jets quarterback Chad Pennington in Week 17 in the Meadowlands, sending downtrodden Miami into the playoffs as the AFC East champion.”

So instead of riding to victory, Boop sat in a hotel room in Phoenix with Eddie, tears streaming down her face, vowing to get Brett Favre, if it took the last breath in my body. When he retired again after this disastrous season, I was lulled into the belief that the sports world was finally rid of this chucklehead. But alas, he will reappear again this season, this time in the Midwest with the Minnesota Vikings. The unmitigated nerve of it all. Sir, just how many franchises and their fans do you hope to tear apart?

Like the Work of the NFL Replacement Refs? Then Vote for Mitt Romney (September 25, 2012)

I have to credit my boyfriend for suggesting this appropriate extended analogy. After several weeks of delayed games, inaccurate calls and the kind of under-preparedness that threatened to remove the integrity from NFL officiating, dire warnings came to fruition last night when the Green Bay Packers were essentially robbed of a victory. Although I am by birth a Chicago Bears fan, this was a uniting moment for football enthusiasts of all stripes. At the end of the day, it’s a love of the game that brings us together, and those who don’t stand in protest against the league’s continued lockout of unionized officials might want to consider who will side with them when their home team is cheated.

As my partner and I looked on in horror at the pandemonium that erupted at Seattle’s Qwest Field after the game’s controversial conclusion, he made a keen observation: “This is what will happen if the country votes for Mitt Romney.” Immediately, I asked for further clarification.

Basically the argument is this: President Obama has a great deal in common with the locked out NFL officials. These are the people that many fans, players and coaches take for granted during a normal season. They do their jobs without glamour, striving to make the best calls according to the league’s rule book. They don’t get it right every time, leading to the requisite jeers, but by and large, students of the game can rest confidently knowing that if nothing else, the referees decisions do not affect the match’s outcome. The best team will usually win. It is not until these shepherds are taken away that we feel the pain of their absence.

President Obama is just such a leader on a national level: a brilliant thinker and empathetic man entrusted with stewardship of the country in the midst of one of its most historically challenging epochs. Every call the POTUS has made since taking office in January 2009 may not have been the right one, but the choices were made through a combination of strategic thought and genuine respect for the American people. However much work lies ahead, in under four years, Obama has brought the union back from the brink of complete financial and foreign policy collapse.

Those that have grown impatient with the slow and steady progress of nation rebuilding would like to substitute Barack Obama for Mitt Romney, an ignorant charlatan who has made lofty promises about “putting people back to work” and “restoring the middle class” without the benefit of specifics. Seeking to capitalize on a stubbornly sluggish job market while conveniently forgetting that it was eight years of GOP policy making that landed us in this protracted mess, Republicans have the audacity to suggest we give them another go, because you know, destructive management is bound to yield completely different results this time. So send in the scab!

But as we have seen over and over again throughout this long campaign, Romney doesn’t have the chops to step into Obama’s shoes. He has no specific plans for uplifting America’s beleaguered middle class. His foreign policy ineptitude is now well documented, as is his disdain for the working poor and any average American struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. To underscore Romney’s utter cluelessness, it is now apparent that he doesn’t possess the basic understanding of your average first grader in grasping why commercial airline windows can’t be manually opened.

Last night’s Seahawks/Packers game, which bore witness to two awful contest ending calls from officials, was a case study in inexperience compounded by frozen ineptitude. No lives were lost and I do not mean to suggest that the NFL scandal is on par with the dire consequences we are bound to collectively suffer by replacing Obama with a cartoon punchline. However, those who enjoy the sporting element of politics yet approach the coming election with seriousness were gifted with a foreshadowing allegory from, of all places, a football match. Imagine Romney in the end zone during a matter of national urgency, surrounded by a team of confused advisers more interested in saving face than protecting the honor of the institution. That’s our future should the Romney/Ryan ticket prevail.