I remember 2005 vividly. It was the year I lost Karen, and it was the last year before I became an adult “adult”. Also, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. It was their first title in 88 years, and Sox fans could live knowing that their team won a World Series more recently than the Cubs. As a Cubs fan who lives on the south side of Chicago, I can tell you firsthand how hard it is to endure all of the trash talk and hatred for the Cubs shown by Pale Hose fans. It. Is. Terrible. The Cubs were going on 100 years without a title, and not only did the Sox win it all, they dominated for almost the entire regular season and postseason. Long-time, diehard Sox fans announced themselves at every corner, wearing a Sox cap, t-shirt, or even championship leather jacket. What made all of the newfound love of the Sox even more painful was that I knew the Cubs weren’t close to a championship. Although I had friends who could tell their children and grandchildren that they had witnessed something as large as a White Sox World Series victory, it hurt because I knew as a Cubs fan, that I would never hear the end of it.
Then, 2006 came. I finally turned 21, enjoyed the “Summer of Erik”, and did everything in my power to do nothing for most of the year. October ruined everything. It was bad enough that the Cubs had a horrible season, costing then-manager Dusty Baker his job. The Cardinals were in the World Series, playing the Detroit Tigers. I dealt with the Cards in the World Series before, but I knew the Red Sox would quickly dispose of them in 2004, and they did. I didn’t have the same faith in the Tigers, though. Of course, the Tigers failed on epic levels. The Cardinals were 2006 World Series champs. The team that I dislike even more than the Ohio St. Buckeyes were champions. Again, the Cubs weren’t. The Cubs would go on to sign Lou Piniella to be their manager and sign Alfonso Soriano to be their…um…player. I wasn’t too fond of the Piniella and Soriano signings, but a Cardinals championship infuriated me beyond belief. I despise the St. Louis Cardinals and anyone who even so much as says “St. Louis Cardinals” without following it with “suck”.
The same goes for the Packers. I loathe everything about them. Their colors. Lambeau Field. The weather in Green Bay. The fact that the Super Bowl trophy is called the Vince Lombardi, and not George S. Halas Trophy. When I was younger, Brett Favre, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Dorsey Levens, Gilbert Brown and a cast of others made my life miserable twice during the regular season. I never figured the Bears would win; I just wanted the score to be reasonable.
It felt good when Lovie Smith took over as Bears head coach and said he wanted to beat the Packers first and foremost. The Bears have actually done a pretty good job in that department since Smith took over. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the job done in week 17. All the Bears had to do was win, and keep the Packers out of the playoffs. One thing “analysts” kept saying that I agreed with was that nobody would want to play the Packers in the playoffs. Right on cue, the Bears lost. The Packers were going to the playoffs. Uh-oh.
Postseason play arrived, and Bears fans on my Twitter timeline announced that they were pulling for the Packers to win their divisional round game, meaning the Bears would play the victorious Seahawks instead of the Eagles for a chance to play in the NFC Championship Game. Seriously. A Bears fan, cheering for the Packers? Suddenly, Bears fans adopted the logic of Cubs fans. “Well, we didn’t keep them out of the playoffs, so it will be fun to eliminate them” Smart. Ignore the fact that the Packers were simply a better team, why don’t you. You know the story of the NFC title game: Rodgers comes out on fire. Cutler hurts his knee. Collins sucks. Hanie rocks. 3rd and 3 end around. Ballgame.
I have an allegiance to the Bears, and not the NFC. I hoped the Steelers would win, because I just didn’t want to watch the Bears play the Super Bowl XLV champs next season. Roethlisberger’s off-field transgressions had nothing to do with who I wanted to win and lose. Ben is one of 53 Steeler players, even though I’m sure most don’t realize that.
It was hard to watch the Super Bowl, knowing the Bears were 8 points away from being there–Cutler’s balky knee or not. When Roethlisberger threw that final incomplete pass, I admit, my heart sank. The Packers are Super Bowl champs, and I hate it with every fiber of my sports-crazed being.
P.S. I miss Karen and the Moondance Woman!!!
P.P.S. I propose the Cubs trade Matt Garza for Jay Cutler.