If the Bears-Packers rivalry were a wine, it would have notes of brutality, mud, humor, snot, frozen tundra, profanity and ripe sweat. But it isn’t, of course. It’s a shot and beer, and Mike McCarthy gets it.
He gets the very personal, very fun, often cruel relationship between the two teams and between their fans. Last year, the Packers coach tapped into that dynamic when he boarded a World War II-era bomber.
“All right, let’s go bomb Chicago,’’ he said, joking.
Speaking at a Green Bay Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, McCarthy raised the ante, saying the Packers were going to “kick Chicago’s ass’’ in the season opener Sunday. It was refreshing for its candor. And it wasn’t much of a stretch: The Packers have beaten the Bears five straight times at Soldier Field.
Lovie Smith made a huge deal about the importance of beating the Packers, but he had the magnetism of a tree stump. His replacement, the secretive John Fox, won’t tell you what time it is, let alone who will be in the starting lineup Sunday.
McCarthy sometimes says things. More people should say things. The bummer is that he apparently took some heat for his “kick Chicago’s ass’’ comment. This being the world we live in, of course he did.
“It was all in fun, but I think it’s really just an example of why you shouldn’t say things like that in public,” he said Monday. “The reality of it is it is really the way the game is looked upon. It’s a great rivalry. I’m sure a lot worse is said in private about the opposing teams and so forth, but it is with great respect.
“It’s the oldest rivalry in the National Football League. In my opinion, I think it’s the best rivalry game that I’ve played in. So playing down there opening day, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a big challenge.”
Stick to the entertaining, antagonistic stuff, coach. We can get the clichés anywhere.
“To me, it’s the reality of the rivalry,” McCarthy said of his “kick-ass’’comment. “I mean, let’s be real here. We’re not going down there to play hopscotch.”
Better. Much better.