Following two different football teams is a precarious thing to do. Many people think that it is impossible to be a fan of two teams; others merely find it to be a disreputable thing to do. I think that it’s OK given a few simple rules. For reasons of full disclosure I’m pretty sure that I made up these rules so that they fit my situation perfectly.
1. Parental influence, moving and following a favorite player are valid reasons for adopting a team. Giving up on a local team because they blow (if you live in Buffalo for example) is not acceptable. My football allegiance was formed by having a dad who was from Boston and who had recently lived in Chicago. So even though I was in Frisco I was never much of a Niners fan but I loved the Pats and Bears.
2. One team that you like must be the Alpha Male of your teams. Whenever they play each other you should know without thought which team you are rooting for. If you can’t do this you aren’t a fan of two teams, you’re a sports slut and most likely a front runner.
3. They can’t be teams that play each other with any sort of regularity and they certainly can’t be rivals. I think you pretty much have to keep them in separate conferences for this. Would there be any worse person in the world than someone who was a fan of the Pats and the Colts?
4. In the rare instance that they play each other you CANNOT be that asshole wearing a Bears jersey and a Patriots hat while watching the game. As stated in Rule 2 you have to pick a goddamn team.
5. If you are writing for a fan blog of one of those two teams you should probably not try to antagonize the readers the week before the game.
I do my best to follow all of these rules. As a Pats and Bears fan it’s been pretty easy to follow these rules. They almost never play each other and when they do it has almost never been in a big game. This is probably the second biggest game between the two clubs ever.
The biggest, well, it was only the most important game in the history of the National Football League. January 26, 1986. New Orleans, Louisiana. Super Bowl XX. 46-10 Bears. Tony Eason going 0-6. The Fridge running it in. The Bears defense putting up 7 sacks while giving up 7 rushing yards. The Super Bowl Shuffle. Sweetness. The Punky QB and his Rozelle headband. Buddy Ryan and Mike Ditka getting carried off the field together while hating each other’s guts. 46-10. The 85 Bears are worshipped in this city in a way that is difficult to explain. Even guys like Mongo McMichael are treated like Gods 25 years later. It’s not uncommon for me to slip into a catatonic state before a big Bear game while chanting, “Coatch. Ditka. Bearssssss. Ditka.” Hell, if anything SNL understated the mentality of most Bears fans with the Superfans skit.
As great as that team was, and they are on the very short list for greatest of all time, it always bothered me a tiny bit that they had to embarrass the Pats like they did. Why couldn’t it have been against the Steelers or the Jets? Why did it have to be against my other favorite team? I guess the Pats side of me can find solace in the 3 recent titles and the fact that Henry Burris never started a game at QB in New England.
Looking forward to this game there is one thing that is abundantly clear, this isn’t 1986. Tom Brady is a wee bit better than Tony Eason and Matt Forte sure as hell ain’t Sweetness. I expect the Patriots to win on Sunday but I’ll be rooting for Da Bears as hard as I can. We need the win pretty badly as our schedule is killer (Pats, @Vikings, Jets, @Pack). Hopefully the league’s worst turf will help us out with a home field advantage, but I doubt it. Regardless of the outcome I will still be able to reminisce about January 26, 1986. (Did I mention that the Bears beat the Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX?)