Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. The big game is the big enchilada of television: it is the most-watched event of the year.
This year, we have the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, and I’m rooting for the Bears. You see, my first reporting job was in Rockford, Ill., some 70 or so miles west of Chicago — Bears country.
There were some cheeseheads drifting in from nearby Beloit, Wis., but the Bears fans ruled. My station, WREX, had a Bears show on Sunday complete with a fake bear head in the studio. I used to collect Bears glasses that came free with a fill-up at the gas station and they were my glassware until Kara and I got married and we tossed ‘em out!
I moved to Illinois in the winter of 1988-89, and the Bears team that won the Super Bowl in 1986 was on the decline. Walter Payton had retired, and they still had Richard Dent, the Refrigerator Perry and Mike Singletary, but the days of the Super Bowl Shuffle starring Yale grad Gary Fencik were fading fast. What amazed me though, was the loyalty of the fans, who had an unconditional love for their Monsters of the Midway.
Maybe it is their long history. The Bears are one of the oldest teams around. Maybe it is because they were immortalized in the movie “Brian’s Song” and satirized on “Saturday Night Live.” Who knows. All I know is that there is something about the Chicago Bears.
On a cold October night in 1989, I was asked to cover the Bears-Eagles game that was to be on Monday Night Football. It was an awesome assignment. There I was, walking around on historic Soldier Field, while a brisk wind from Lake Michigan made it feel like January. Actor Jim Belushi was on the sidelines with us, along with a few Prairie State dignitaries.
The Bears won and we quickly rushed into the locker room to talk to players, and the man feared by reporters across the NFL: Mike Ditka. Iron Mike had a reputation of cutting down reporters with surgical precision. As a cub reporter, I was understandably afraid to ask him a question, but knew I had to.
I asked him something about his arch rival Buddy Ryan, then head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. My voice rose a few octaves as I tried to appear confident. Surprisingly, Coach Ditka answered the question politely. Whew.
Anyway … you gotta love “Da Bears!”
P.S. My apologies to Eyewitness News editor Tom Zukowski, who bleeds Colt blue. He has five different Indianapolis Colts jerseys that he has been wearing to WFSB since the AFC championship.
It is hard to root for the Carolina Hurricanes of the NFL. Remember, the last time the Colts were in the Super Bowl? They were the Baltimore Colts. Can you imagine the Louisville Bears?
(p.s. – It’s hard to root for the Colts, whom I consider the Carolina)
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