TELANDER: Against the green and yellow, Bears are red-faced and blue
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org January 5, 2013 1:38AM
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a Super Bowl ring and is chasing another this postseason. The Bears? Nowhere close. | Genevieve Ross~AP
Updated: February 7, 2013 6:37AM
I’m sure it has come to your attention that while other NFL cities have teams playing this postseason weekend, Chicago does not.
The Bears, and all their fans, are entranced, instead, by a search for a coach. Pretend it’s fun, Chicago. Pretend it’s sport.
It’s not. It’s stupid. It’s lame.
It’s for a franchise that can’t get its focus, its direction, its (bleep) together.
And you know why?
Because it can’t compete with a franchise 200 miles north of here, one that resides in a bland, small-sized city, owned by the citizens of its state, which is best known for dairy farms, water slides, muskie lakes, pine trees, butter and its mature, elder cheese.
I’m speaking, of course, of Wisconsin and the Green Bay Packers. Lovie Smith came to town boasting he was going to whip the Packers, and for a while he did. Then it all went to hell again. As it always does.
It’s not the Detroit Lions who are ruining the Bears in the NFC North. Nor the Minnesota Vikings, though the Bears also finished behind them this year.
No, it has been Starr and Favre and now Rodgers. Yes, they’re great quarterbacks, but they’re also symbols of a franchise that does its homework, that knows what division it’s in, that owns Chicago.
The Packers have won the NFC North six times since it was formed in 2002. The Bears have won it three times. And remember 2010? The Bears won the division but were hammered by the second-place Packers in the NFC Championship Game, which was held right here at friendly Soldier Field. And then what happened? That’s right. The Packers won the Super Bowl. Stuck the Bears’ noses in it, they did.
And if you don’t detest the Packers enough for their success, there’s the fact the Bears can’t even count on them for a helping hand in desperate times. You thought the Packers might snuff the Vikings last week, so the Bears could make the playoffs? Ha! And ha! again.
But ‘‘detestation’’ or ‘‘hatred’’ are not the right words. ‘‘Envy’’ should be. Or ‘‘embarrassment.’’ The Packers, the little green-and-yellow franchise up north, do it right. Their stadium is many times better than Soldier Field. Their football museum is epic. Even their swagger is better. Imagine: They have beaten the Bears now eight of the last nine games, nine of the last 11.
Want a comparable?
How about the American League East in baseball? Do you really think the New York Yankees would tolerate getting drummed year after year by, say, the Tampa Bay Rays or the Toronto Blue Jays? You say that’s not a fair comparison because the Yankees have an immense revenue stream and lots of history in a huge city.
And what, I counter, do the Bears have?
† WHAT DO YOU THINK the Bulls’ 96-89 away-game win Friday night over the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat means?
Many will say it means nothing. Games are meaningless until the playoffs. Long season, the Heat’s in first, it can glide and chill and turn it on when it wants. That’s possibly true. Hard to discount when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen are on the same team.
Let me dream a bit here. Let me suggest it might mean something else. It might mean the Bulls match up better against the Heat than against some other teams, such as the Pacers or Thunder or Clippers. It also might mean the Heat simply is not a great rebounding team, since the Bulls crushed it on the boards 48-28. It also might mean that a serious vet like Luol Deng and a serious youngster like Jimmy Butler playing lockdown defense on James and Wade can work. And the second-chance points that come from such work are manifest.
Let me suggest that defense, rebounding and effort — all things that can be controlled because they mainly require focus and hard work — can beat talent and offense. And let me toss out another little glimmer of hope:
Derrick Rose lurks.
† I MUST TELL YOU I have a new favorite magazine: Contingencies, from the American Academy of Actuaries.
I don’t know why I receive it — it’s bimonthly — but there it is in my mailbox, and I love it. This is coming from a guy who quit math his junior year in high school because it made no sense.
Why is Contingencies so good? Well, it had a recent lively story on Franz Kafka, the novelist and genius who worked all through his brief life as a high-level insurance adjuster and, deep down inside, loved it. Despite the demands of the job that ‘‘tormented’’ him, writes Daniel D. Skwire, ‘‘so did his romantic relationships, his family, his writing, his health and just about every other aspect of his life. The man liked to complain.’’
And then there is this: a guide with the numbers (actuaries live for numbers) that tell us by how much ‘‘real-world obesity’’ reduces not only human life span but the quality of life for that shortened time.
And all I can think of is the NFL and its circus of bloated, dancing elephants.