It’s still the Bears.
No matter how grim the forecast for the season, no matter how many times Jay Cutler has failed and no matter how many years it has been since the franchise has won a Super Bowl, it’s still the Bears.
It will always be the Bears in this city. Forever and ever, amen.
They open the season Sunday against the Packers at Soldier Field, and Chicago’s attention will turn to a franchise standing atop two tectonic plates. One is a new regime led by general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox. The other is the thick residue left over from the Phil Emery-Marc Trestman “era,’’ a sliver in time that has set back the franchise at least a few years. It doesn’t figure to be a pleasant ride.
Other cities might look for something else to do in this situation. But Chicago will watch and yearn, because that’s what Chicago always does with the Bears. The Cubs are a phenomenal story this year, but for three hours or so on Sunday, they will be what they are, little Bears that are out of sight and out of mind.
To an outsider, a team that went 5-11 last season and hasn’t won a championship in 30 years might not seem worthy of having the city in the palm of its hand. But when training camp opened at the end of July, fans had one question: Who’s going to win the battle at the backup center position? OK, that’s not true, but you get the idea. There is no such thing as minutiae when it comes to the Bears, only Great Questions of Our Time.
Is there reason for optimism? There might be if you have Matt Forte on your fantasy team. The Bears plan to run the ball a lot. Then again, the offensive line is so questionable that no one can be sure if Forte or Cutler will make it through the season. The team is dealing with injuries and general badness up and down the roster. So, optimism? Maybe traffic flow will be better along Lake Shore Drive this season.
That the first opponent is Green Bay might seem like some cruel cosmic joke, but Bears fans might as well know right away what they’re dealing with this season. Maybe Fox will surprise all of us. I doubt it, but if you don’t have hope, what do you have? Wise-guy answer: Bears season tickets.
Chicago will be watching and wincing Sunday because that’s what it does, win or lose. It is, after all, still the Bears.