Watching the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV while thinking of the Bears and Mitch Trubisky. Sigh.

It will be impossible to watch the game without pondering an alternate history, one with Mahomes in a Bears jersey.

SHARE Watching the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV while thinking of the Bears and Mitch Trubisky. Sigh.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates after his team beat the Titans in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 19.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates after his team beat the Titans in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 19.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Bears’ Twitter account recently was hacked by a group that announced the team had been sold to a Saudi official. It was, of course, fake news — the genuine kind.

Some of us have had to admit to an initial adrenaline rush, a certain spring in our step, when the tweet went out. Was this finally the end of McCaskey ownership of the Bears, a four-decade salute to a lot of nothing? Alas, no. Cruel world!

OK, I’m still a little cranky about the Bears’ 2019 failure. The Super Bowl is Sunday. Before the season began, they more than suggested they would be one of the two teams left when the big game arrived. Chairman George McCaskey wondered aloud whether the planets had aligned for a Bears Super Bowl title. It was the team’s 100th season, after all. A nice, round number. Bears founder George Halas’ birthday was Feb. 2, the date of the Super Bowl. And if you divide the number of Walter Payton touchdowns by how many people Dick Butkus knocked out during his career, you get LIV, the Roman numeral attached to this Super Bowl. Or something like that.

Instead, it’s the Chiefs, with a star quarterback the Bears could have drafted, against the 49ers, with an intriguing quarterback the Bears could have acquired in a trade.

It will be impossible to watch the game without thinking about an alternate history, one in which the Bears used the second overall pick in the 2017 draft to take Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes instead of North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky. It will be impossible to look at Mahomes’ arm, accuracy, daring and creativity and not think the Bears could have been in this Super Bowl if they had chosen correctly. With an image in your head of Mahomes wearing Bears blue, it’s impossible not to imagine multiple Super Bowl appearances for a team that hasn’t been to one since the 2006 season and hasn’t won one since the 1985 season.

The jury is still out on 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a product of Rolling Meadows High School. But he completed 69.1 percent of his passes and had a 102.0 passer rating this season, compared with Trubisky’s 63.2 percent and 83.0 rating. Hard not to believe he would have looked good in a Bears jersey. Hard not to think the Bears would have been closer to the Super Bowl with him.

Watching the Super Bowl through the lens of the Bears will be a kind of self-torture, but I’m not sure there’s any way around it. In fairness to Trubisky, Mahomes has many more quality receivers at his disposal than Trubisky does. So while we drool over Mahomes, we need to keep in mind that he has a lot of help. But then you mentally plop Trubisky into the Chiefs’ offense, and you know in your heart there’s no way he could put up Mahomes-type numbers.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Because it’s all we have. Because the Bears did this to us.


It was a rough season for the Bears besides their 8-8 record. Life seemed to remind general manager Ryan Pace at every turn that he didn’t draft Mahomes. Mahomes and another talented quarterback Pace passed on in 2017, Deshaun Watson, had a head-to-head battle when the Chiefs and Texans faced off in October. It was the What Might Have Been Bowl. And, of course, it was the Bears’ bye week. Chicago was forced to watch.

Then Mahomes paid a visit to Soldier Field on Dec. 22 to remind the Bears of their errors. After he threw a touchdown pass in the second quarter, TV cameras caught him counting to 10 on his fingers. The countdown let everyone know where he ended up in the draft: 10th to the Chiefs — and very much not second to the Bears. It was a Sunday night game, meaning the nation could give its undivided attention to Mahomes’ math skills and the Bears’ draft sins.

So what’s one more night of pain for Chicago? After all, if it weren’t for scar tissue, we wouldn’t have any tissue at all. It doesn’t help that it’s the Super Bowl. The world will be watching. Mahomes will be the focal point of everything. But maybe the Bears will get lucky. Maybe the 49ers’ brutish defense will make Mahomes look merely human. It’s hard to imagine, with the combination of the Chiefs’ speed and Mahomes’ ability, but it might happen.

Unfortunately for the Bears, one game can’t undo all of the 24-year-old’s greatness. The 2018 NFL Most Valuable Player had a 105.3 passer rating this season, denoting consistent excellence. In the playoffs, he had a monster game in a rematch against the Texans, throwing five touchdown passes. No, this is the nightmare that will keep replaying for the Bears.

If Mahomes should play poorly Sunday, it will lead to one logical question: Why didn’t the Bears trade for Garoppolo in 2017 when they had the chance?

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