On the John
Once a Bears fan…
Originally completed September 13, 2010
“You know what you’re like? You’re like a pathetic gambler. One of these losers in Las Vegas who keeps thinking he’s gonna come up with a way to win at black jack.”
— George Costanza
Glick was talking about his Alex Brown jersey.
“I can’t believe it’s obsolete.”
“You never can tell with jerseys,” I said.
“I spend all this time deliberating, all this money. I mean, I love Alex Brown! And I go for it, and now he’s on the Saints.”
“Life just be that way, I guess.”
“Just isn’t right…”
No it isn’t.
But that’s life in professional American sports, as a fan or a player. Here today, gone yesterday, and without a jersey refund to show for it. The game is the game, always, and it will be played no matter who is on the field in your team’s colors.
Indeed. Three hours before the 2010 Chicago Bears season kicked off, I was downtown at Ogilivie awaiting the first Metra to Wilmette. I hardly followed the Bears this offseason. Didn’t see the draft. Was a day behind on the Peppers signing. Was way late in learning about the departures of Brown and fellow starting d-end Adewale Ogunleye. Didn’t even remember about Mike Martz until FOX showed him on the sideline. As I waited for my train, I studied our starting lineups in the Sun-Times. It served as a total bridge between last season’s finale against Detroit (a 37-23 win of which I hold no memories) and this season’s opener, also against Detroit.
And then, midway through the first, I had forgotten our left tackle, and didn’t know that Idonije was starting at end instead of inside, nor who had replaced him next to Tommie Harris. When was the last time I entered a Bears season with this little knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses, our starters and bench, our coaching staff?
The answer to that is probably 1987, two years after the Super Bowl, the final year of Sweetness, this five-year-old Bears fan going on six and wondering how many more Super Bowl titles would be in my future…
Now I am calm. I do not feel the absolute need to wear my Marcus Robinson jersey during games, nor to even have it slung over the couch just in case, nor to even wear my old Bears hat or even my Bulls triple threat shirt from ’91 just to represent the city. It just doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter.
I’ve always tried to remain emotionally level while watching the Bears. Yes, I was known for outbursts during my prime. But those came during peak emotional levels at Key Points. During Hester’s Super Bowl return, for instance, while all around me people were standing and jumping and shouting, I simply held my fist skyward, nodded my head, took the 7-0 lead, and said, “On to business.”
A few hours later, as that dirty bastard Kelvin Hayden was making his way to the endzone, I crumbled, knees on the floor and head to the ground, my eyes peaking out to see if he had scored, dropping my head to the carpet when he crossed the goalline, raising ten fingers above my head, knowing as I did that “no team in Super Bowl history has every come back from a deficit of more than ten points,” and the Colts now leading 29-17.
That game knocked the piss out of me. The 2007 season ground me further into the turf. The 2007/2008 Cubs set me on fire and asked, “Are you sure you want to keep doing this?” Slowly, my maniacal passion floated away. It’s a story I’ve told before…
But here’s the thing: though my emotions have dried out between plays, games, or seasons, when the action is current, I’m back in the fix. I’m like a sober-for-six-months alcoholic roped into a cocktail party, feeling strong as I tell fellow partiers “Oh no thank you, I stopped drinking,” and feeling so confident in my newfound strength that, what the hell, one whiskey sour won’t hurt.
We know where it goes from there. Cutler throws his first pick of the season, and Olsen fumbles, and Forte fumbles, and Cutler fumbles, and I’m back on the carpet wondering how these losers sucked me in again.
But then Forte takes off on a screen and goes 89 yards for a score! And Briggs pulls a 2006 Tommie Harris and forces a pre-handoff fumble! And Cutler makes nifty passes to Aromashodu and Hester and The Hustlin’ Johnny Knox! And Forte makes a catch of a lifetime to give the Bears the lead!
But then Lovie goes for it on fourth and goal. Come on man! The Lions offense can’t do squat! Their starting quarterback is wasted! It’s the fourth quarter! Take the points! TAKE THE POINTS!
You gotta be kidding me! Four plays? Four %$@# plays??! And nothing? Nothing at all? What the hell’s going on out there???!!!
Commercial break and I’m laughing again.
Midway through the third, I told my dad and Danny Lorber – the first two people with whom I remember watching the Bears, incidentally – that one day I will write a memoir called 3rd and Long: My life as a Chicago Bears fan. Danny suggested changing the title to 3rd and Wrong. A solid suggestion that I will consider.
Because while I care more about writing and loved ones and personal goals, and while the Bulls have become my favorite Chicago sports team, and while I might try to convince you in private that Barack and Iran and Israel-Palestine and the war in Afghanistan and the Ground Zero Mosque and that dickwad in Gainesville and CPS budget cuts and the New Trier renovation and the fall of Mayor Daley and a million other items of True Significance are all more important than what 53 men I have never met do for three hours on an otherwise pleasant Sunday afternoon, the truth is that when the Bears take the field, it really doesn’t matter what else is happening in the world or how mature I’ve become or even, sad to say, what yahoo whose name I don’t know is prancing around in Mike Brown’s #30. From opening kick to the final gun, I am a tried-and-true, dyed-in-the-wool, navy and orange and blood and guts and Doug-and-O.B. screamin’ mad Bears fan.
Glick is too. And he called me in the second quarter to say as much: “Hot damn!” he shouted when I answered. The man who replaced Alex Brown had just collected his first sack as a Bear and had Glick jumpin’. “MAN Julius Peppers is fast. Did you see that reverse-angle replay? Stafford had NO idea where the heat was coming. I mean, I knew Peppers was good, but wow. Wow. I mean, wow.” He was giggling. “Just… wow. I think I could get used to this.”
Me too, Glick. Me too.
Copyright 2010, jm silverstein
COME BACK THE DAY AFTER EVERY 2010 BEARS GAME for a new column from Jack M Silverstein, right here at readjack.com
Stories referenced above…
December 31, 2009: A small, good thing
From October 9, 2005 in the sports fan book: Jack goes crazy
More Bears material from readjack.com
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WHY WE ROOT: Mad obsessions of a Chicago Sports Fan
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