I sat on what’s probably my favorite bar stool in the world, back to the wall of Wise Guy’s Corner in the World-Famous Billy Goat Tavern. In this hallowed drinking alcove were my friends Brian, long-time member of the Josie Woods mafia, and Rick, the Trib’s chief political reporter. We talked about stuff – Illinois state budget insanity, Trump, self-driving cars and their impact on the American workforce…etc. – and then the conversation switched over to the Bears.
And then it ended.
There’s nothing to talk about.
Not living in Chicago, I can really only take the pulse of the town when I’m here for short bursts. And in December, the number of “Bears tourists” can mask the city’s prevailing winds. These are people who don’t live in the city but travel here, maybe from downstate, maybe from Indiana, maybe from Queens New York, to see the Bears because they love the Bears despite their record. They wear Bears hats and jackets. They go to the bars and want to talk about the Bears and very little else.
And they’re not here in March. My Bears hat is one of about eleven I’ve seen since last Wednesday. People are asking me for directions on the street because, hey, if I’m still wearing a Bears hat I have to be from here.
Jerry had a mane of white hair and nursed a mug of Schlitz at the Goat for the better part of 20 minutes before finally speaking to me.
“What do you think of the Bears?”
What did he do next?
He laughed. Didn’t even wait for me to respond. Just laughed.
This town is not bracing for the worst. They believe the Bears have already begun their descent into the toilet. They didn’t see anything to be optimistic about in 2016 and don’t see any reason for optimism with the current make-up of the roster. Especially when it comes to the guy throwing passes.
“What if they take a quarterback early in the draft?” I asked Jerry.
“Their draft choices never work out.”
Who was I to argue? It was going to take more than one great draft class to convince Jerry of anything. And if the Bears want to keep Jerry watching on Sundays, they better start winning football games.
Hell, forget about getting Jerry to watch. That seems like a Pizano’s deep dish pie in the sky. Just get him to stop laughing.