Ho, ho, ho!
As Santa prepares to descend the chimney, what better time for a sweep?
We began our day as we always do when our bitter rivals to the north come to town, with a visit to the Halas crypt to beseech approval for the day, and Hepcat’s sacrifice was well received. Papa Bear thought it was a hoot, responding with a kicking, screaming rant that produced bitter cold, howling winds and swirling flurries that destroyed any notion of an effective passing game. The Old Man and his mistress Mother Nature conspired to take away the only thing those guys who call themselves champions of the north had to offer.
Foregoing the radio on the ride down, we opted instead for the sounds of Jack Brickhouse describing “How The World Was Won; The Story of the 1963 Chicago Bears,” reliving the Bears’ 26-7 win at Wrigley Field over Vince Lombardi’s penultimate team, the conference-clinching victory over the Lions (Davey Whitsell! He’s gonna go!), and the ultimate conquest of the Giants for the NFL title.
The weather being unfit for man or beast, only Bears, not packers, we decided against three hours of leaning into the stiff winds of the South Lot and headed for a leisurely breakfast at El Presidenté. Their BYOB policy fit well with our aversion to $7 stadium beer, and the cooler in the back seat came in handy. While there we were surprised to meet up with a few members of the lost boys who were also avoiding the arctic tailgating chill. Although an offer to share our breakfast cerveza was refused, pleasantries and holiday wishes were exchanged.
There were more packer fans wedged into the Soldier Field seats today than there have been in recent years, evidently feeling their oats with a 12-2 team on the verge of the playoffs. Some of them talked about their so-called dominance in the Bears’ stadium, pointing to the Bears home loss last year in what was essentially a meaningless game with our guys having home field locked up and nothing to play for. But unlike that game, green bay needed this one to have a chance to rent out the downtown boarding house, put the spit-backs to good use and open the gates of their already soiled home for an NFC championship game. What does it say about these impostors, or their chances for playoff success, if that they can’t get past a 5-9 team in a game they have to have?
Packer fans around us got tired of our singing the Bears fight song after every score, asking if we knew anything different. But at least we have a song we can call our own to sing, not having to rely on Todd Rundgren’s “Bang the Drum” like any one of a number of NFL venues. But if they want to cadge our song for when they score, we don’t mind.
Give the visitors credit for one thing, though. They managed to take Devin Hester out of the equation. Of course, when you only kick off twice and have a punter who has two punts blocked (one returned for seven), mishandles another snap for a ten yard loss and boots a fourth for a whopping nine yards your special teams don’t exactly qualify for a game of keep-away. It was the first time in 12 years that the losers had a punt blocked, as Jon Ryan looked like a punting version of Jonathan Quinn, slow, ratcheting wind-up and all, trying to boot the ball. Sean Landeta never felt so good.
The Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback managed to keep from sobbing after this year’s visit, stopping long enough to say that the weather was no excuse but then adding that these were the worst conditions he had ever played in, which sounds suspiciously like an excuse. And as far as playing conditions go, either he was forgetting the scent from the outhouse when he was growing up, or possibly Mee-Maw’s still out back, or he was strictly limiting his comparison to his toughest days as an NFL quarterback.
Despite all the adversity, The Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback did manage to set a couple more NFL records when he tossed his 287th and 288th career interceptions to Alex Brown and Brian Urlacher, the latter returned 85 yards for Urlacher’s first career touchdown off a pick. Several of his other throws to the Bears were flat out dropped, three most notably by Hunter Hillenmeyer, Peanut Tillman and Brown.
On the drive following Urlacher’s touchdown some bare-chested fan got past security and ran out onto the field, tripping over the 25 yard line before being swarmed by the red coats and led off. The brief interlude allowed Urlacher to catch his breath while also letting The Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback prepare for his finest moment.
It was 2nd and nine from the Bears 11 when the shotgun snap got away. The Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback fell to the ground and into the fetal position, reaching for the ball like it was his teddy bear, waiting for somebody to place a blankie over him as if crying “Mommy, make it stop!” All that was missing was one of Deanna’s pink jerseys and a curly straw in a warm cup of Bosco.
The humiliation was complete.
Two plays later the losers turned the ball over on downs, and after a Bears possession ended with a punt The Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback surrendered, handing off twice to run out the clock.
Although our deluded neighbors to the north believe they’re witnessing the resurgence of their team and their Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback is allegedly experiencing a career renaissance, this is fact: the Bears are 5-1 against these impostors over the last three years, their only loss coming in the aforementioned meaningless season finale last year. The packers chose to be announced as a team today and they got soundly whipped as a team in every phase of the game. The Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback can un-blame the weather for taking away his passing game, but somebody needs to explain to him that four Bears defensive starters were watching from the sideline in parkas. Pro Bowl cornerback Nathan Vasher didn’t play in either game this season and still the record-setting Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback came up empty.
So they can enjoy their trip home, which Gus told me was going to involve a bus ride since the weather caused cancellation of their flight. While there may be some grumbling because of that, a few of the players will like the fact that they won’t have to drive to their benches in the Greyhound station from the airport.
Gus also deserves special mention for starting and nurturing one of the most rousing choruses of “green bay sucks” ever heard in Soldier Field. It began as his lone voice around gate 15 and built into a thunderous roar as we exited gate 7, the cavernous concourse echoing with the elated cheers of Bears fans on their way home to celebrate the Bears second sweep of the shredded cheese in three years, and the fact that their 2007 NFC North Championship will now always seem hollow, forever tainted by their 0-2 record against our guys.
Unfortunately, any celebration in my house is going to involve the Jaws of Life.
The things we do for love.
Anyway, if you’re feeling at all blue on Monday Lactose Intolerant recommends a spin of the dial to AM 620, where WTMJ will fill the air with the ramblings of distraught packer fans.
Have a Merry Christmas, everyone! I know I will!