I would be remiss if I didn’t wish all of you a Happy packer Week. About the only thing more annoying than the fans in their corrugated steel playpen is waiting an extra three days to disappoint them.
The Other Half refused to let me see her season tickets this year before she sold some of them after I noted that last year’s opening game ticket was a slightly larger version than the rest, emblazoned with a photo and scenes of The Washed-Up Veteran Quarterback. The team didn’t know he’d be playing for the AFC New Jersey entry when they brought their ducat concept over to Gutenberg for printing, and were duly embarrassed when they had to cancel the pregame festivities honoring their carpet bagging former record-gatherer. Rumor has it the party was to include a couple cases of Mason jars for Mee –Maw’s still. She made do with washed out jelly jars.
This year’s opener features a couple new wrinkles, including a new 3-4 defense for the hosts, which should make it easier for the middle-school educated locals to describe providing they can get past “one-two.?They also have a pair of fresh faces on the right side of their offensive line with two NFL starts between them, which will help The Prince begin his contract push.
I can tell Mojo is ready. He spent a good portion of this afternoon feeding me factoids about the rivalry, including one mistakenly advanced by our good friends at the Daily Herald. Namely, that the Bears and packers have met 20 times on opening day, only twice in Chicago, with the Bears holding a 10-9-1 edge. A quick scan of the media guide, however, reveals 30 opening day meetings with the Bears up 17-11-2 despite only playing those two games at home.
Part of the reason for the venue imbalance, at least early in the rivalry, was that the Bears used to have to play their first two-tree games on the road because the Cubs had Wrigley Field locked up. It wasn’t until the Cubs were done (playing) that they could set up the temporary stands on the east sideline. The league finally got pissed off about it because the Bears always had a bunch of late season home games that gave them an unfair advantage during the playoff push (a push which only materialized twice in the ?0s, not always successfully) and told them to find a place where they could play a full schedule.
And so the Bears moved to Soldier Field in 1971. From then on a Bears-packer opener could have been played on our part of the lakefront, but our northerly neighbors haven’t been scheduled down here that much probably owing to a clandestine agreement with the league that they don’t play this close to the equator this early in the season.
For the record, the Moon Man was the host head coach the only two times our abutters ventured south of the cheddar curtain to start things up, splitting those games which were sandwiched around the blocked field goal/overtime TD by Chester (I keek touchdown!) Marcol in gb in 1980. There was the 1997 opening Monday night loss up there when Danimal read The Skinny (predicting 10-6 and the playoffs) on my deck before the opening kickoff and then turned the page upside down, eliciting a laugh from the entire group. And he was closer to the truth than I could have hoped, as the Bears finished 4-12. And of course, in 2006 there was the Bears embarrassing the packers 26-0 on the day they welcomed back alumni to commemorate the tenth anniversary of their Super Bowl XXXI appearance. That's the game they won, not the game Holmgren had them lay down.
Unlike that game I expect more competition this Sunday, with the packers 37-3 rout last year at Curly’s Place fresh in the minds of most Bears vs. the new QB savior up north sporting a 147+ passer rating this preseason. We all know what preseason counts for, though, and those runny nosed kids on the right side of their line coupled with a packer defense still getting comfortable in their new roles will let our guys return home effectively with a two game lead over the dreaded cheese, notwithstanding what da Coach thinks. (By the way, I think he said that as a subliminal motivational tool for the guys he truly loves.)
One other thing. Of those 30 previous opening day meetings, ten straight came in green bay through the decade of the ?0s, when the Bears? last franchise quarterback ruled the roost with a 6-3-1 record.
Not bad, but I’d never settle for that.
As Duke said, “let’s get started with a decisive, utterly crushing road victory . . . .?/b>
And don’t forget to leave a lovely parting gift.