November 6, 2014
1920 Football Drive
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045
Each week since late 2005 this internet space has predicted the Chicago Bears will win their upcoming football game. It has done so by prefacing each column with the simple question, “Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?” The answer has become a sort of rallying cry for those who frequent this site: I always like the Chicago Bears.
I am writing to you today because I have a confession to make. I apologize for the impersonal platform email provides this painful and stirring admission but your ignoring of my texts and phone calls has left me with no other recourse.
I should stop stalling. My admission is this. As I sit in front of my computer preparing this letter I must acknowledge that right now, at this moment, I do not like you.
I do not like the things I am reading about your general manager’s interviewing skills. I do not like your head coach’s inability to adjust schematically in the face of a career-defining week. I do not like your star wide receiver, struggling mightily on the field, spending part of each week flying to New York to appear on a television program. I do not like Willie Young responding to questions about defensive performance by stating the Bears need to hit harder. It is difficult to hit receivers and backs harder when you’re not in the same zip code.
More than anything, I do not like your effort. I do not like the fact that you followed an inspiring victory in Atlanta by not showing up for eight quarters against quality opponents like Miami and New England. Worse is the feeling that “not showing up” was hardly the problem and you were simply outmatched on the field and sideline for the duration of those eight quarters.
I do not like that you lied to me in San Francisco and gave me the impression you could take a punch in the mouth and get off the mat. That you in San Francisco seems two seasons ago.
This is not a letter meant to admonish your performance over the first half of the 2014 season. This is a letter meant to encourage a better performance over the second half. Sunday night, in Green Bay, you have an opportunity to flip the script. You have a chance to make me believe I am not wasting all these hours writing about you and caring about the outcomes of your contests.
I chose to write this letter because I normally spend two or three days on a game preview, watching weeks of film on the opponent and compiling a listing of how their strengths and weaknesses line up with your strengths and weaknesses. Then the weekend comes. Their strengths dismantle your weaknesses. Your strengths don’t arrive. Everyone knows the strengths of the Green Bay Packers. Everyone knows how they will choose to attack you. I am not going to waste several days writing about how you should rebut that attack when I don’t even know if you’ll show up to play the game in the first place.
Our relationship has been strong for many years, Chicago Bears, because I never questioned your desire to win. When you were incompetent under Wannstedt I never doubted that desire. When you were untalented under Jauron I never questioned your will. When you were unremarkable under Lovie, you know, it was cool.
You are no less talented than the team you’ll face Sunday night at Lambeau Field. You should be able to run the ball through the teeth of their defense and make plays down the field with your large, star receivers. You should be able to mount a pass rush against an offensive line that has gotten their quarterback hit far too often. Prove something to me and your many fans Sunday night. Prove to us you belong on the same stage as your longest rival. Prove to us you’re hell bent on playing meaningful football games in December.
I want there to be a place in the NFL for men like Marc Trestman, someone who has worked his way to an opportunity and does not believe in falsifying his personality to assuage a blue collar city still longing for a Mike Ditka clone. I want there to be a place in the NFL for quarterbacks like Jay Cutler, someone who doesn’t credit God every nine seconds for his success and drop “one game at a time” like an athletic robot. But you need to prove to me that you are a winning combination.
More than anything I want to do what I haven’t done in several weeks: care about you.