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PostGo (Chicago) Bears! (David Duggan, USA, 12/25/18 1:24 pm)
As the rest of the world celebrates the Feast of the Incarnation (I don't say Merry Christmas: too much Dickens, not enough Pusey) amid drones circling London airports, troop withdrawals in the Middle East, the market tumbling into bear territory and the economy toward recession, and throngs pressing at the US southern border, yearning to breathe free, in the frozen Midwest there is modest cause for celebration.
No, I'm not talking about the impending retirement of Mayor Rahm Emanuel (still more than four months away), but about the resurgent 2018 version of the Chicago Bears, not the original Monsters of the Midway: they were the U of Chicago Maroons under Amos Alonzo Stagg.
With an 11-4 record going into the final week before the playoffs, the Bears are in the post-season for the first time in eight years, back when quarterback Jay Cutler (Mr. Jenny Cavallari) was earning his paycheck. With a first-year coach and a second-year quarterback, just about nobody foresaw the Bears' turn-around from a series of pathetic seasons under three coaches: Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman and John Fox. Some are even predicting a Super Bowl appearance, given the Bears' somewhat dominant defense, and comparing this team to the storied 1985 Bears.
Those who make that comparison are either delusional or delight in fake news, not surprising given the current politico-economic climate. The collective record of the Bears' opponents is 83-110 (with 2 ties), and the Bears have beaten only three teams with a winning record (Seahawks, Vikings and Rams). Their four losses have come at the hands of opponents with a collective 28-31-1 record; only one of them (Patriots) is playoff bound, with a winning record. The Bears have scored more than 30 points only four times, once in a losing effort (Patriots), and have given up more passing yards than they have racked up in today's pass-happy NFL. Still, they have scored more points after turnovers, intercepted more passes (27) and have returned more interceptions for touchdowns (5) than any other team.
But other than the improbably named Tarik Cohen, a 5'6" black man from North Carolina A&T with sprinter's speed, and Barry-Sanders-like jukes, the Bears have a negligible offense, and have a hard time scoring when it counts (their overtime loss to the Giants is a case in point). Cohen can do it all: run, catch passes, return kick-offs, but you need more than one guy to win championships, as any Bears fan old enough to remember Walter (Sweetness) Payton will tell you.
Though this year's Bears have Khalil Mack to shore up their defense, it hasn't captured the nation's attention the way the '85 Bears did with Dan[imal] Hampton, Steve (Mongo) McMichael, Walter (The Refrigerator) Perry, Mike (Samurai) Singletary, Richard Dent, Gary (Hit Man) Fencik and five others who were elected to the Pro Bowl that year (the only time that all 11 starters from one team would have that accomplishment). As WAISers deal with the ghosts of Christmases past, visited upon us during this time of turmoil, they should get a laugh from that team's Super Bowl Shuffle (available on YouTube). Go Bears.
JE comments: If we combine Wall Street and Soldier Field, might 2018 be remembered as the Year of the Bears? (And then I ask myself: do I have enough years left to ever see a Year of the [Detroit] Lions?)
A joyous and blessed Feast of the Incarnation to you, David!