Friday, January 21, 2011
Packers-Bears: NFC Championship Game for the Ages
I was born thirty miles south of the Wisconsin border in northern Illinois into a family that loved sports, especially football. Especially Green Bay Packers football. Now of course some family members loved the Chicago Bears - it was Illinois, after all. Growing up in the 60s and the Lombardi era made being a Packers fan pretty easy. I'm a die hard cheese head to this day. Yes, I have one of those ghastly head pieces, and if the Packers make it to the Super Bowl I will be wearing it as I watch (Scary thought - I used to own a cheese tie!). We used to vacation in Green Bay during training camp so we could see the players up close. Met Ray Nitzchke that way, and Bart Starr too.
To get to the Super Bowl the Pack will have to beat the Bears in Chicago. I can't imagine a more intense and football frenzy type of NFC Title game than Bears vs. Packers. Talk about waking the ghosts! One can almost imagine Lombardi and Halas pacing the sidelines this Sunday. The teams have played each other 181 times. 182 will be the biggest of all.
If the Packers lose to the Bears, I'll be disappointed, but I will be cheering for Da Bears in the Super Bowl with gusto. My grandfather was a huge Bears fan, and I almost always cheer for the Bears to this day (except when they play the Pack), just the way he would have liked it. I know there are Packer fans who hate the Bears and Bears fans who hate the Packers, but I'm not in that fraternity. Look, the only team I really despise is the Vikings. That's the bitter rivalry (Yeah, Viking fans, how many Super Bowls have the Vikes won? Right. ZERO!). I like this Bears team - tough defense, unheralded, and ready to make big plays on offense and special teams. Urlacher and Peppers are terrific. No they're not as great as the 85 Bears (went to the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory in London to watch that Super Bow, staying up til 2:30 am to see the whole thing, cheering for the Bears all the way). Can they win it all? Yes. So can the Packers, and I hope they will.
The team that wins on Sunday will lift high the Halas Trophy for winning the NFC Title and will then play in the Super Bowl for the right to hold the Lombardi Trophy. Halas and Lombardi. Lets just call the game this Sunday "The Legends Bowl". These two teams matter to the NFL and this might well be a game for the ages. It already is for the fans.
The truth is that Packers and Bears fans respect each other, just as the two teams do as well. I don't know if the Bears fans will cheer for the Packers in the Super Bowl, but I know a lot of Packers fans who would cheer for the Bears.
I think this Packers team is better than the Bears, but the home field advantage the Bears enjoy may be tough to overcome. Its going to be cold. Its going to be snowing. Its going to be GREAT!
Packers by 4 and it will be down to the last possession.
I have no idea who wins that AFC title game between the Jets and Steelers, though I'm guessing the Steelers. A Packers-Steelers Super Bowl? Classic. We'll see.