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Bears fans embrace the thrill

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

An impassioned chorus of “Bear down Chicago Bears” echoed across the bar and — doubtless — most of the city Sunday afternoon as the Bears secured their first play-off victory since 2006.

The 35-24 victory over Seattle was greeted with cheers at Kroll’s sports bar at 18th and Michigan.

“I always believed!” Diego Ross, 42, of Hyde Park hollered as all around him fans hugged and began cursing their next opponents, the loathed Green Bay Packers.

Few had doubted the result against the sub-.500 Seahawks.

On icy South Loop sidewalks in the hour before the game, raucous chants of “Kill Seattle!” mingled with the unmistakable swish-swish sound of thousands of Bear fans confidently marching to the stadium in nylon snow pants.

Seattle-born Tom Bevan, 42, of Evanston, was one of the few Seahawks fans to brave the game in his team’s colors.

“Fear the Hawk!,” he squawked at any Bears fans who abused him outside the stadium.

A few feet-away, his son, Jake, 11, hid his shame - and his face - behind an orange Bears balaclava.

“It’s different,” he allowed of his father’s outfit.

By the time Jay Cutler had scrambled for Chicago’s third touchdown early in the second-quarter, the hundreds of booze-fuelled fans packed into Kroll’s were in full party mode, breaking into spontaneous choruses of the Bears fight song and cheering every first down with a clank of bottles.

Only John Shostack, 51, of Bridgeport, still looked nervous, groaning at every dropped pass and wincing at each penalty call as he tightly gripped his beer.

“I’ve been a Bears fans for 45 years and I’ve seen them throw away too many games they should have won,” he said.

So when might he be able to relax?

“February 7,” he deadpanned. “The day after the Superbowl.”

At Kitty O’Sheas, 720 South Michigan, Cubs fans who’d been enjoying the Cubs convention had no such worries.

“I just hope we get the Jets in the Superbowl,” said Rob Christiansen, 52, of Edgewater.

Despite his substantial frame, Christiansen had enthusiastically squeezed his head into a child’s plastic Bears helmet, which he was unsure how he’d remove.

“I’ll probably have to sleep on my back,” he reflected, as he carefully poured beer between the bars of his facemask into his mouth from his “guzzleglove” - a plastic baseball mitt with a built-in cup holder.

Pointing at a slice of orange floating in the dregs of his cup, he added, “at least I’ve been getting plenty of vitamin C.”

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