Bears and Packers Have Date With Destiny

Twenty-five years ago, the Monsters of the Midway shuffled their way to a Super Bowl title. They went 15-1, had a rolodex full of Hall of Famers and were nearly perfect on both sides of the ball. By comparison, the 2010 Bears are their evil twin.

Considering those 1985 Bears had the Defensive Player of the Year, linebacker Mike Singletary, Coach of the Year, Mike Ditka, and outscored their opponents by a combined 91-10 in the playoffs, that’s more or less a compliment.

Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo has sworn up and down that this is the best team he’s ever assembled, but frankly, this year’s squad doesn’t deserve to hand wash Refrigerator Perry’s oversized jockstrap.

And even as a Bears fan, even as much as it pains me to say, the Bears don’t really deserve to be vying for the title of NFC’s finest team. At least on paper it doesn’t. Here’s the scouting report:

Their star quarterback has a double chin and is less inviting than a swarm of bees. They have receivers that can’t catch and linemen that can’t block. Their best offensive weapon is a punt returner. Their best defensive player once dated Paris Hilton. Their field has the consistency of swamp water.

Trying to come up with reasons the Bears won the NFC North division makes your eyes cross. It doesn’t make any sense.

Unless, of course, it was fate that intervened. How else can you explain it? I mean, one half of the dream matchup was easy. The Packers were always supposed to make it this far. They have all the talent and bells and whistles. Aaron Rodgers is Super Bowl material. Clay Matthews has hair destined for rides at Disney World.

But grumpy Jay Cutler? He has a face fit for blindfolds. In fact, it’s so odd that a player of his disposition had made it to such a grand stage that several national writers recently penned columns about how loathsome he is.

And the Bears? All year it seemed like they were circling the drain. They never got flushed. All year, the wheels were shaky and wobbly. They never fell off.

Some will call it luck or coincidence or good fortune that a great team, the Packers, and a mysteriously overachieving team, the Bears – longtime, bitter rivals, mind you — have found a way to meet in the playoffs for the first time in over 70 years.

But I think we, with our Midwestern sensibility, know better.

Maybe it wasn’t exactly divine intervention, but don’t think for a second that the ghosts of Halas and Lombardi weren’t watching over this season, guiding their teams to this most glorious of destinations. They knew that we needed this, to give us something to cheer about again, to restore balance to sports’ greatest rivalry.

Predestination. I like the sound of that.

Think about it. This had to happen now. The rivalry was sputtering. I wrote back in November that the Bears and the Packers hadn’t played a meaningful game in ages. The hatred between fans was whittled down to a fleeting displeasure. The wick had almost gone out.

And then this atom bomb gets dropped on us. Green Bay against Chicago for all the marbles. Hatred back on.

Packers fans want Bears fans to choke and die on their polish sausages. Bears fans want Packers fans to contract salmonella from their goofy cheeseheads. I have a roommate who has to shave his head if the Bears lose. I have a friend who has to ante up next month’s rent if the Packers lose. I hate you. You hate me.

We all love football. And Sunday can’t get here soon enough.

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