Last week it was the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, this week it’s the Buccaneers’ Tom Brady and maybe now is a good time to talk about Chicago’s horrible case of quarterback envy.
It is not breaking news, just heartbreaking, to Bears fans that their team hasn’t had a star quarterback since the 1940s and ’50s. If it were a history book, it would be titled, “From Sid Luckman to Rex Grossman to Bad Luck, Man.’’
Jim McMahon was more than promising, until he was Charles Martin-ed into Soldier Field’s then-artificial turf in 1986. Most everyone else who has stepped under center for the Bears came with the ominous scouting notation “can’t possibly be worse than the last guy.’’ The Bears haven’t drafted a great quarterback, haven’t traded for one, haven’t signed one and haven’t tripped over one on the way to the grocery story. We’ll get to their latest QB in a moment, so holster your typing fingers, Justin Fields fanatics.
You’d think that the Bears would have stumbled upon at least one very good quarterback over the years. Many franchises have, either through astuteness or good fortune. They either have a great quarterback now or have had one. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson. The Dolphins still are struggling to find a QB, but they and their fans were once blessed with Dan Marino. The Cardinals have Kyler Murray, and the Broncos used to have John Elway and the last fumes of Peyton Manning. The Bills have Josh Allen and had Jim Kelly.
The Bears had Sid Luckman.
They’re not alone in their quarterback aridity, but it’s no surprise most of the franchises that haven’t had a great quarterback have been strangers to championship football.
Is it harder to find one of the best quarterbacks of all time in the sixth round of the NFL draft, as the Patriots did with Brady in 2000, or go 70-plus years without a star quarterback, as the Bears have? Probably the Brady “discovery,’’ but whiffing on a quarterback for seven decades has an incredibly high degree of difficulty. You have to be consistently and spectacularly bad at evaluating talent to do that.
Fields could turn out to be great, which would break the Bears’ run of 10,552 unremarkable QBs during the Rodgers-Brett Favre era in Green Bay. But right now, despite what his earnest backers keep insisting, we just don’t know yet about the kid. Bears coach Matt Nagy noted that several of Fields’ throws in the loss to the Packers last week were “special.’’ Given that Nagy tried to sell us hard on the idea of Mitch Trubisky being special, you might want to take that with a shaker full of salt.
My first instinct is to tell Bears fans to ease up on their enthusiasm over Fields. That way, they’ll suffer less emotional damage if he turns out to be not so special. Then I think about the vacuum at quarterback since Luckman retired in 1950 and I’m a bit more understanding of why grown men and women would line up just for a chance to touch the fringe of Fields’ garment.
But until he indeed turns out to be the Great Healer, the Bears are going to be subjected to afternoons like last Sunday, when Rodgers ran for a touchdown, then screamed to Soldier Field fans: “All my [bleeping] life, I own you! I own you! I still own you!” A very public declaration like that one is not easily forgotten. It certainly was on Brady’s mind Monday, when he brought up the ownership issue on his SiriusXM show.
“Before we get started, I wanted to say congrats to Aaron Rodgers, obviously,’’ he said. “I know he’s a great quarterback, but I guess he’s now a shareholder of the Bears. I saw a clip of him really enthusiastically telling the crowd how happy he is to own Soldier Field. That’s really great stuff. He owns (1% of) the Bucks now. Part-owner of Soldier Field. He’s got a great career beyond football.”
And so true!
The sad truth is that the Bears’ inability to beat Rodgers has now become a national punch line. So has their chronic quarterback problems, brought on by poor scouting, rotten luck and, I don’t know, a Vitamin Q deficiency.
The 49ers had Joe Montana and Steve Young. The Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes. The Saints had Drew Brees. The Ravens have Lamar Jackson. You know whom the Packers have and have had.
The Bears had Sid Luckman. Maybe someday the Bears will have the great Justin Fields.
Until then, one question as it relates to quarterbacks in Chicago:
Why can’t we have nice things?