Monsters of None: How the Bears have fooled their faithful fan base
The cold and I do not mix. I'm south side born and bred and still I dread the days of busting my ass on a sheet of concrete ice in zero degree wind chills. So if I leave the house to go sit in single digit temperatures on Christmas Eve to watch you play, you better damn well believe I'm irrationally in love with you.
I wish I could quit the Chicago Bears. I'm almost at that point. Bomani Jones frequently refers to the time he got "off that narcotic" and stopped being an Atlanta Falcons fan, giving hope to the idea that one could be heartbroken so much, in such cruel ways, that he finally said enough is enough.
I'm not ready to give up. Not just yet. I wanted to gauge the temperature of the fan base - literally and figuratively - so I did what any twenty-something Chicagoan lacking sensory receptors would do: I grabbed a $10 ticket off a scalper by the Field Museum to see two of the worst teams in football! It's like watching The Red Wedding on repeat, you do it because you enjoy misery.
17,539 rabid Bears fans decided they would rather spend the day curled up on their warm & cozy couch to watch the game, or they had better shit to do. Who am I kidding? It's probably the latter. The other 41,256 (announced) clowns and I split our time between standing in the beer line, huddling up next to three(!!!) space heaters in the concourse, and having a huge snowball fight with all the broke boys in the 300 level.
For a team that loves to tout its charter franchise status, the Bears have not operated themselves like the club with a near-century of history. Since their blowout loss to the 49ers in the '94 playoffs, Chicago has made the NFL playoffs a grand total of four times, winning just three games in that span. In that time the league has added expansion teams in Carolina (seven playoff appearances, nine wins), Jacksonville (seven playoff appearances, five wins) and moved the original Cleveland Browns to Baltimore before restoring the franchise in '99; the Ravens have won two Super Bowls since. The Rams left LA, put on the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis, and returned two decades later with a Lombardi trophy.
Saints fans are best known for donning paper bags in shame, but they got that damn Super Bowl. Even the Buccaneers shed years of ineptitude and got a ring. Oh, and that team you beat for your one and only Super Bowl win? They have five, and show no signs of slowing down on the way to number six.
Winners of nine NFL championships themselves, the Bears have just one title in the last 54 years. But it's that one that keeps fans holding onto the past...
Arguably the greatest Super Bowl winning team ever, the '85 Bears were a force on the field and icons off of it, especially in Chicago. They were so beloved, Mike Ditka held a job all the way through 2016. That team has sent certain personalities into pop culture lore, and has kept checks rolling in for plenty of guys who otherwise would've been forgotten.
One of those guys holding on for dear life is Emery Moorehead. No disrespect, but the dude had one touchdown and a season-long catch of 25 yards. I'm not saying he was trash, but the team would've won the ship without him.
(My father used to park cars in downtown Chicago during the '80s. He has tons of interesting stories, including one of Emery Moorehead requesting the top floor of his garage with two Becky's in the backseat "allegedly." You can piece together how the story goes.)
The Bears introduced Moorehead during a second quarter stoppage to maybe the biggest applause for anything on the field that wasn't a touchdown, turnover or Mitch Trubisky scramble. The love Chicago has for the '85 Bears is deeper than the current team on the field. It sickens me.
The fans are not at fault. The blame is up top, led by the worst of George Halas' many inventions: the McCaskey family. Daughter Virginia is a pissed old lady, never too pissed enough to cede responsibility from grandson George - so much a football guy that he hired Ernie Accorsi to find GM Ryan Pace in 2015 - or Ted Phillips. Ted is the Tom Hagen of the family; started handling the finances and player contracts and eventually worked his way to President and CEO of the organization. He's seldom seen nowadays, but it's imperative he stay away from all football operations if the Bears are going to return to prominence soon.
They have failed the hire the right people to put the best product on the field on Sundays. Sure guys like Trubisky, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, impressive personnel on defense when healthy, plus a returning Cam Meredith at wideout and gobs of cash to spend, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But many fans are apprehensive that this won't end up like last time. Like the national embarrassments aren't over. Like the Green Bay beat downs won't end. Like another bright summer in Bourbonnais won't give way to doom and gloom in December.
So as Moorehead showered in the adulation of the mildly raucous crowd, I booed the shit out of him. I wanted this organization to know that 1985 is not the standard of excellence in this town anymore. We've seen six NBA titles, a Hawks dynasty 49 years in the making, and hell THE WHITE SOX AND CUBS HAVE WON THE WORLD SERIES IN THIS MILLENNIUM!!! The Bears are Chicago's team, but what have they done for Chicago?
Some drunk guy behind me took offense and told me that I needed to respect the history of this team. He was wearing a Jay Cutler jersey, which tells me he has a long history of being a loser. Couldn't be me, but only God can judge.
Once he quit his bitching and came to see I was a die-hard who loved his team like him, I realized something: Bears fans are just tired of losing. So tired, we're at each other's throats. It's a hateful time to be a fan of this team, and changes need to be made. Change in the organization, change on the field, even change in us. Demand excellence of the team you support, don't settle for titles won before the BAD Tour.
The Bears won, the Browns remain winless, and Titties Trubisky saved Christmas. For one day, all was well on Lake Michigan, and in Halas Hall.
Some of those changes are underway. John Fox is fired, Dowell Loggains is likely out of here too. Ryan Pace is back to find his head coach, someone who can take Trubisky to the next level. But what lies ahead for the Monsters of the Midway remains unknown.
Let's hope it's a Lombardi trophy or two.