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TELANDER: Big game beckons Bears

The Steelers aren’t team they have been but they still have two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. | AP

The Steelers aren’t the team they have been, but they still have two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. | AP

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Updated: October 23, 2013 6:27AM



It’s only the third game of the season for the Bears, but — pardon the cliché — it’s a BIG game.

The Steelers, whom the Bears play Sunday night in Pittsburgh, are winless this season. But if anybody thinks they aren’t going to win a game in 2013, I have some Heinz ketchup stock to sell them. Maybe mustard seeds, too.

The Steelers might not be what they were in the past, but they have Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and once-gimpy tight end Heath Miller apparently ready to play. This is a Steelers home game, the Bears haven’t played on the road yet and nobody in the NFL wins (or loses) them all.

So a Steelers victory is possible. However, they have lost starting center Maurkice Pouncey for the season, their offense is near the bottom of the league in almost all statistical categories and the two Super Bowl titles from the last decade are fading in the rear-view mirror.

With just a touch of bad luck, the Bears could be 0-2. But they’re not. And if they win this game, they will be 3-0 and ready for some Super Bowl talk of their own.

IT’S HOCKEY TIME in Chicago.

The Blackhawks are ready to go after their third Stanley Cup championship in the last five seasons. And if the preseason crowds and over-the-top worship of the 35-pound Cup are any barometer, fans are giddy with anticipation and love.

Something permanent has happened to hockey in this town. The title in 2010 broke a near-half-century drought, then the one last spring brought together all the people who had witnessed the 2010 Cup but had no clue about hockey or what it was Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith did.

Now everybody knows. They know about Coach Q and Marian Hossa. They know about pluses and minuses, dumping it in, sniping, one-timing, chippiness and not to step on the Indian.

The city has passed Hockey 101 and is ready for grad school.

HAVING PRETTY MUCH destroyed my hearing from ear infections as a kid, close-up audience participation in rock concerts, firing a gun once without earplugs and assorted other aural insults, I have written several times in the past about the deafening aspects of huge, raucous sporting events. I now wear earplugs at most indoor events I cover and even a few outdoor ones.

Have you ever been in the pits during a NASCAR race without ear protection? Take my advice: Don’t.

So I keep wondering who will be the first player or coach to recognize his or her hearing has been damaged by the incessant roaring and ‘‘sweetened’’ noise at stadiums or arenas and sue for damages. Or even if he or she doesn’t sue, at least recognize there is nothing cool about having your eardrums blown to bits by screaming fans, blasting strains of ‘‘YMCA’’ or some clown on the public-address system bellowing, ‘‘Louder!’’

I don’t see any NBA players wearing earplugs in hostile arenas, do you? Or friendly ones. Thinking back, I know I did some serious damage to my ears during the Bulls’ glory years in the early 1990s at the old Chicago Stadium. The din there sometimes seemed more like a liquid than a sound.

Which brings me to this: During the 49ers-Seahawks game last Sunday at Century Link Field in Seattle, a world record for noise in a stadium was recorded. The number: 136.6 decibels.

If you ever have been in Century Link Field, you know the curved structure of the stands and metal canopies that arc over the crowd work to amplify sound and focus it back in on the place until you feel as though you’re on the inside of a power drill. It’s painful and ridiculous. But it sure messes up opposing quarterbacks trying to speak or think.

One hundred thirty-six decibels is louder than a power saw, a sandblaster, a subway train, a siren. According to hearing studies, pain begins at 125 decibels. A military jet with an afterburner taking off from an aircraft carrier at 50 feet is quieter than 136.6 decibels.

If such chaos gives you a home-field or home-court advantage, then ring-a-ding-ding — if you can hear it. Players, coaches, fans — we all will be lined up at the hearing-aid store.

FINALLY, LET’S GIVE a cheer for Nevada boxing referee C.J. Ross, the woman who scored Floyd Mayweather’s recent rout of Canelo Alvarez a 114-114 draw. After much derision, the 64-year-old Ross is leaving the business for a while, saying, ‘‘I’m taking time away.’’

She’s the judge who blew the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley title bout in June 2012 in Las Vegas, too. I believe the lady can hear, but I don’t think she can see.

Nobody gets everything, folks.



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