Before one sits down to write a eulogy, a central question must be asked. What would the deceased, lying in their wooden box, want you, those who loved them, to hear? What are the final words they wish to have associated with their existence?
Tears are easy. This is death. It’s sad.
Laughs are also pretty easy. With sadness and pain comes tension and an inherent desire to laugh. That which would not garner even a chuckle at 2 AM in your local pub can easily bring the house down from the pulpit.
Profundity is more complicated. An attempt to BE profound can often ring hollow. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to draw great human lessons from situations that don’t present them.
Who were the 2018 Chicago Bears? They gave us joy. They gave us excitement. They gave us laughter. They gave us hope. And ultimately, because in this sport only one team ends their campaign with champagne, they gave us the heartbreak of what might have been.
The 2018 Chicago Bears were a lot like life. It wasn’t always pretty. It didn’t always make sense. It was sometimes tense, sometimes boring and often predictably unpredictable.
Who among us would not sign for a success rate of 12 out of 17. Who wouldn’t want to bat .700 in the majors?
Life is about losing. We lose at the grocery store when there are no ripe avocados. We lose on the train platform with every delay announcement. 99.9999% of us lose at the lottery every single week. Human beings, by and large, are losers. But not these 2018 Chicago Bears.
They were winners.
They won almost exclusively.
And that is why their death was so hard to stomach. They never showed us signs they could be defeated. They never hinted at their mortality. Even as Nick Foles connected with Golden Tate with a minute to go in the wildcard game, the faithful at Soldier Field still believed this group would find a way, any way, to live.
But, alas, football is not life. And death is not final. The 1985 Chicago Bears could not have existed if the pain of the ‘84 team’s death did not resonate through a discontented locker room. We can only hope this season’s failure, in so much as it could be deemed as such, profoundly inspires the next group of men who carry the banner of a proud football organization and hungry city.
Super Bowl Champions resonate with their fans because they never die. Sure, they lose here and there, but they never lose life’s final battle. That’s why 33 years later Dan Hampton doesn’t have to reserve a table at any restaurant in the Chicagoland area. Champions are permanent exhibitions in the sports museum.
Ending a eulogy is complicated.
The bad ones always end with something lIke…”Winston Churchill defines character as blah blah blahbedy blah and that certainly defines our sweet Samantha…”.
Well pardon my language but fuck Churchill. The 2018 Chicago Bears were everything one wants from their favorite team. They were terrific entertainment. They were likable. And hopefully, they’ll be a footnote.