No matter what, Green Bay fans can’t change their Green Bayness
BY RICHARD ROEPER firstname.lastname@example.org January 17, 2011 12:08PM
Updated: April 24, 2011 4:46AM
Note to Packers fans:
Settle down. Even if your team wins on Sunday, you’ll still be in Green Bay, and we’ll still be in Chicago.
The “city” of Green Bay regards the city of Chicago in much the same way Canada regards the United States, Jennifer Aniston looks at Brad and Angelina and Keith Olbermman tracks Sarah Palin.
One side cares way more about the perceived connection than the other.
Don’t get me wrong — Bears/Packers is the most storied of all NFL rivalries. You don’t hear about it as much on ESPN because the two teams haven’t squared off in the playoffs in the modern era, they’re not East Coast-based, and many of the greatest moments in the rivalry occurred before there were multiple-angle highlight reels to serve as setups for wisecracking anchors to try out new catch phrases. But there’s no denying the electricity surrounding Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
Let’s face it, Bears-Packers is just way cooler than Seahawks vs. Falcons, which sounds like a heavily trending 99-cent iPhone app involving cartoon birds.
The cheese factor
Even though the Packers’ roster is filled with players who played college ball in Louisiana, California, Tennessee, Arizona, Alabama and other non-Wisconsin locales, and the Bears have far more players from Florida, Texas et al. than the Chicago area, coaches and on-field personnel are usually pretty quick to tune into the rivalry. Remember when Lovie Smith joined the Bears in 2004, and he said the first goal was to beat the Packers?
Every once in a while some young gun on the Bears will say he doesn’t care about the Packers any more than he cares about the Lions or the Vikings, and a veteran will have to pull him aside and say, “No, you have to hate those Green Bay guys more.”
It’s all in good football fun — though for this Chicago sports fan, the Cubs/Sox rivalry has always been more spirited and more heated than Bears/Packers simply because I know hundreds of Cubs fans and I’m acquainted with only about seven Packers fans, and I forgive them for either having been born in Wisconsin or for being contrarians.
But here’s the thing Green Bay fans can’t change no matter what happens this week: their Green Bayness.
If the favored Packers triumph on the dyed-green, torn-up tundra of Soldier Field on Sunday, fans all over Wisconsin will rejoice as if they’d been given a lifetime supply of Gorgonzola, a Leinenkugel IV and 30 extra days to hunt white-tailed deer.
Bears fans will curse Cutler to the skies and call for Lovie’s firing and chant “Packers Suck!” on their way out of Soldier Field — but come next Monday morning, a new sports day will have dawned.
Are the Blackhawks going to put together a winning streak and climb in the standings so they’re in decent shape to defend the Stanley Cup? With MVP candidate Derrick Rose leading the way, can the Bulls make a serious run in the playoffs and maybe even knock off the Celtics or the hated Heat?
Spring training is a month away! The White Sox have one of the highest payrolls in the major leagues as they’re making one last push for a World Series pennant in the Konerko/Buehrle/A.J. era. And the Cubs —
Well, like I said, there’s the Blackhawks and the Bulls and the White Sox.
Not to mention all the other advantages Chicago enjoys over Green Bay, in nearly every category imaginable. (Cue the e-mails from Packers fans telling me we outpace them in drive-by shootings and corruption. Duly noted.)
If the Packers lose on Sunday, what do their fans do, turn their attention to Wisconsin basketball, the NBA’s Bucks, the Milwaukee Brewers? Or do they immediately start counting down the days until the next time they can hit the Tundra Tailgate Zone?
Take the points
All year long, the Bears players and coaches have been telling the media they don’t get any respect from the media — not that they ever listen to or read anything the media have to say. If they never listen to us, how do they know we don’t respect ’em?
Anyway. You know who else doesn’t respect the Bears? Oddsmakers. They’ve got the Packers installed as three-point favorites, even though the Bears had a better regular season record and are playing at home.
Take the points. Bears 24, Packers 20.
And Chicago over Green Bay, every day and twice on Sunday.