With Pack up next, whatever you do, don’t ask Mitch Trubisky about Brett Favre
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Mitch Trubisky’s nickname in high school was ‘‘Brett Favre’’ because his coaches thought he brought the same risk-taking, devil-may-care approach to playing quarterback that the former Packers star did.
That nugget emerged in a Sun-Times story about Trubisky before the Bears’ season opener in Green Bay. So did the fact that his license plate back then was ‘‘Favre 10’’ — his nickname combined with his high school jersey number at the time.
‘‘It was just that belief that I could make any throw on the field at any time,’’ Trubisky said in September. ‘‘Just a gunslinger mentality.’’
But that was then and this is now. Whatever you do, don’t ask him about the nickname, especially not with the Packers heading to Soldier Field. The Bears can clinch the NFC North title with a victory Sunday, and, apparently, a Chicago quarterback being associated with Favre right now is a little like persistent rumors that Superman has been palling around with Lex Luthor.
‘‘I’m done with that nickname,’’ Trubisky told reporters Wednesday. ‘‘No one calls me that anymore. I’m just focused on playing this week and doing my job. That was back in high school. I don’t play for Green Bay; it was just a nickname. It was back in the day. I’m a Chicago Bears quarterback now. It has nothing to do with that. I’m just focusing on this week. I’m not going to even speak on it because it’s in the past.’’
That response probably played well with the McCaskeys and all the Bears fans who see red when they see green, gold and white. You almost can hear them, can’t you? Trubisky has crossed over from the dark side! Finally, a Bears quarterback who gets it! He despises the putrid Packers!
Cannonballing into the pool of Green Bay hate isn’t a bad strategy in Chicago. But for it really to pay off for Trubisky — for him to take a first tentative step into Bears lore — he has to beat the Packers on Sunday.
This season has been a series of first steps for Trubisky, including a six-touchdown game against the Buccaneers. Turning his nose up at the Packers is another one for the normally genial quarterback. It will be a big step if he and the Bears take care of the Packers, who stand in the way of their first division title since 2010. It will be a bigger step if Trubisky can bounce back from the poor game he had last week against the Rams.
It’s wonderful that the Bears can beat a team as talented as the Rams without help from their quarterback. But a convincing victory against the Packers with Trubisky leading the way? That would put coaches, teammates and fans a lot more at ease with the postseason approaching.
His reaction to the Favre question was a little odd and led to all sorts of theories. Perhaps he didn’t want to give the Packers credence, especially because, down 20-0, they had shocked the Bears in the season opener. Maybe he didn’t want to say something nice about the next opponent. My suspicion is that Trubisky, now fully immersed in the Bears’ culture, considers his past infatuation with Favre unseemly.
On the other hand, which Bears quarterback was he supposed to latch on to during his high school days? A ‘‘Cutler 10’’ license plate was basically asking to get your car egged.
Favre was respected in Chicago when he played for the Packers. He was tough, daring and talented — everything a Bears fan had wanted in a starting quarterback for, like, ever. It wasn’t Favre’s fault he was the starting quarterback for the archenemy. It was an unfortunate reality, like an incurable disease. But it was a measure of his ability and panache that his neighbors to the south didn’t view him as the offspring of the Evil One.
So, Mitch? It’s very much OK to have wanted to be like Brett. And if your athleticism allows you to end up being as good as the Hall of Fame quarterback, Chicago won’t care if you have Favre introduce you before your own induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
But that’s not in the vicinity of a given right now. It is a given that the Bears play the Packers and the very talented Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, and perhaps we should be concentrating on that. Uh-oh, did I just mention the Packers’ current quarterback? Another no-no. A reporter made the mistake of asking Trubisky on Wednesday what he admired about Rodgers.
‘‘Umm . . . I don’t know, I haven’t really watched much on him this year,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m really just focused on continuing to learn this offense and focused on what I’ve got to do and my job this year. So just continue to learn and master this offense and focus on myself and my teammates. Obviously, he’s had a lot of success, but I’m just focused on what I’ve got to do for my team this year right now.’’
Putting on your game face the Wednesday before a game seems a bit early, but — and this can’t be overstated — it is Packers week. So let’s give Trubisky a break. He has a lot on his plate for a second-year player. A complicated game plan. Tons of responsibility. Receivers to keep happy. Let’s let him be.
But . . . Bart Starr. Your thoughts, Mitch?