Last night, I joined millions of fans, jumping up and down in their living rooms as San Francisco 49er Jordan Willis blocked Green Bay Packer Corey Bojorquez’s punt on 4th and 19 from their own 12-yard line with 4:50 remaining in the 4th quarter. Talanoa Hufang’s “scoop and score” was sweet icing on the cake as that, plus the Point After kick, tied the game in what was otherwise a low-scoring contest, seemingly going Green Bay’s way.
I screamed in hateful delight as Robbie “Good As Gould” Gould, former Chicago Bears kicker, booted the game-winning field goal as time expired, sending Green Bay home to join the rest of the NFL hopefuls on the spectator couch for the remainder of the playoffs.
Final score, 13-10. 49ers.
Restore the field. Clean the stadium. Turn off the lights. There won’t be an electric bill for a would-have-been NFC Championship matchup at Lambeau.
But waitaminute. I’m not a die-hard 49er fan. Why does/did it mean so much to me? Hmmmmm.
Let me go back a step and share something I posted on social media this morning…
I hate the Packers.
My father hated them.
HIS father hated them.
If the NFL went back to the days of slavery, my great-great grandfather would have been in the fields, cursing about the heat, excessive overtime…
…and the Packers.
Yes, I’m a Chicago Bears fan. A devout follower of the Green Bay Packers’ most heated and storied rival in NFL history. Probably in all of organized sports. So much so that I refused to get on an elevator with someone who held it for me because he wore a GB hat. As the elevator closed, I opened my jacket, proudly displaying my “Monsters Of The Midway” shirt. Hell, my father wouldn’t even allow people to wear green or yellow if they entered our house on game day.
Thankfully, there were no known Packers fans in our old East Chicago neighborhood. I’d hate to think about what he would have done, had they dared to walk by our house, even tippy-toed during a thunderstorm.
And he’s probably turning over in his grave at the downturn the da Bears have taken as of late (but we’ll table that for another discussion).
Yeah, the hatred is that deep.
Truth be told, I honestly can’t remember any moment in sports history when the fans of a rival team loved a victory more than the fans of the team that actually played and BEAT them.
It damn sure wasn’t the Bears.
This was a moment for San Francisco fans, world-wide, to do naked cartwheels in unbridled jubilation, having pulled off a stunning upset.
On paper and by virtue of visible performance, this game was Green Bay’s for the taking: Freezing temperatures, slippery field, the menacing presence of the 12th man/woman screaming “Go Pack Go” and my favorite part, snow.
But it was not Aaron Rodgers’ night. Nor was it that of his comrades and Cheesehead Nation.
The limburger went sour last night as AR’s postseason run of 8 Wild Card, Divisional and NFC Championship losses added one more notch to its discount double-checked belt (queue widespread fingers, brandishing a championship belt).
To be honest, the immeasurable joy of Bears fans is almost sad. Once upon a time, a team would root for its divisional rival or another representative from its respective conference to win the league championship.
We do that for the all-star game.
We do it when the trash-talking ensues about the dominance of one’s sports faction.
We do it because we all love to be part of a winning crew, no matter who fights as the king’s champion knight.
But dude, this is next-level hatred. It’s Bears vs Packers. Dogs vs Cats. Greasers vs Socs. PC vs Mac. Sweet potato vs pumpkin pie.
Me? I love it. I know the Bears are scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel while its fans play “crabs in a bucket”, pulling GB fans down to join in their collective lamenting. It’s true, misery loves company. But the Packers are who we want, sharing the Loser Couch. Not only because of who they are, but like in all of sports, because of their trash-talking fans.
I would have been a bit more forgiving and supportive under other circumstances. But in my social neighborhood, I’ve had to endure the incessant taunts of their fans in the wake of every loss that we experienced this season, no matter WHO we played.
…and I politely accepted a barrage of “We f***ing OWN you” inbox messages after our second loss to them – all the while issuing a return warning, “remember your words – they’ll come back to haunt you when/if you lose at the time you hate it most”.
That time was yesterday and the moment for pettiness is here. Now I get to laugh as Bears fans everywhere inundate the Twitter feeds with mocking posts such as “No Pack No” and “All you own is a loss”.
Sure, GB fans will counter with “at least we made the playoffs”, but at the end of the day, we’ll both be watching the next round with zero vested interest because neither has a dog in this race.
And it doesn’t matter that the Bears have a lot of work to do, trying to find a workable future as we scramble for new organizational leaders and greater protection for our wishful franchise quarterback.
All of this supposed banter means nothing if we lose the home and away games against the Pack in the 2022 season. Because if you know what it’s like to be a Bears fan, you know that we subscribe to former coach Lovie Smith’s philosophy: Goal #1 is to beat the Packers.
That, is our Superbowl.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get started on my world-famous Chicago Bears “Tackle” Taco Salad because playoff weekend continues.
Not that I care who wins. I just love football.
Bear Down, Chicago Bears (which unlike “Who Dey” and “How ‘Bout Dem Cowboys?”, means Please, let’s get our you-know-what together and do better…).
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