Let me take you back to November 7th, 1999.
I know, no one was alive then.
It was the Bears first game since Walter Payton, the greatest Bear of all-time (though if you say Dick Butkus or Doug Buffone, I won’t argue) had passed. I had $7 to my name, living in Boston during my freshman year of college. I had no business leaving my dorm room, much less going anywhere to watch an out-of-market Bears game. Should have just curled up with the leftover pizza, Budweiser in the dorm fridge, what I’m sure was a raging hangover, and listening to the radio via NFL.com.
But when you’re a homesick Chicago boy and Walter Payton has just passed, and it’s the first ever Bears-Packers game you’re set to miss, what can you do? I roped some friend in to join me (I know exactly which friend it was, but I won’t name him because he’s an upstanding citizen these days) for reasons neither of us will ever understand, and made our way to Champions Sports Bar behind the Pru (sky point) on Huntington Ave. Could I order a beer? No. Did the two of us combined have enough for one appetizer? Barely. But sometimes, you do what you gotta.
And it was an awful game. Somehow, the Bears in their first year under Dick Jauron (HEY BUDDY THAT’S MY DICK JAURON!) and rotating Cade Goddamn McNown in at QB for a handful of series per game were able to drag the Green Bay Packers (admittedly a middling version of them) to their level for four quarters. I wasn’t fully aware of the minimum that the bar had for anyone sitting at a table, though I knew that the sole artichoke dip appetizer we ordered certainly didn’t justify our existence at the poor server’s section. We tipped as well as we could for it, but obviously, that was pretty skint. We were clueless 18-year-olds. But again, things had to be done.
And we did that so we could watch four quarters and three hours of pretty turgid activity of 22 guys hurling themselves at each other with no particular plan or organization at all. But lord only knows I’m used to that as a lifelong Bears fan. It is what we carry.
Somehow, the Jim Miller-led Bears had monkey-humped their way to a 14-13 lead through a bumbling offense that saw Curtis Enis run for 88 yards and their leading receiver Marcus Robinson amass 66 yards, But, of course, that corn-fed, thieving mule Brett Favre drove the Packers down to the Bears 10 with the last drive, setting up a chip shot for a game winner. Of course. Same as it ever was. This is just the way things were, the way they are, the way they will be. Without ever looking like they cared or tried, the Packers were going to nick another one away from us.
Every Bears fan knows by heart now that Bryan Robinson jumped 12 feet in the air to block that field goal. I charged around that bar telling every Packers fan I could find to suck it (it was the height of the Attitude Era) and hugging the one other Bears fan in the bar while screaming, “SWEETNESS!!!!” Our server just glared at us, rightly. Maybe she’ll read this and I can make it right. We paid our bill of like $18 for three hours of sitting there, whatever 1999 prices were, and I bounced all the way back to the T.
The lesson, kids, is never play the Bears on the day or even the week a team legend dies. As soon as it was announced that Dick Butkus had passed, the Commanders were toast. Justin Field and DJ Moore were going to turn into Montanta-to-Rice-on-speed no matter what they did. And that’s what happened as Chicago torched Washington, 40-20, on Thursday night.
Whenever Brian Urlacher dies of the most super strain of herpes the world has ever seen, the Bears are winning the Super Bowl.
You can book it.
Follow Sam on Twitter @felsgate and on Bluesky @felsgate.bsky.social